Opioid Crisis: Understanding the Origins

The opioid crisis is something which people are quite aware of these days. However, not too many people know how exactly it started. After all, things like this don’t just happen overnight. As it turns out, the history behind the crisis helps show exactly why things have gotten out-of-control today…

Opioid Crisis: Tracing The History

The origins

The origins of the opioid crisis start back in the 1990’s. During this time, drug companies were doing a lot of research into potential new painkillers. Mainly, their research was around what we now call opioids. The pitch these companies made to doctors was that these drugs were less or not at all addictive, and had no negative side effects, compared to other drugs like morphine.

This promoting meant a lot of doctors believed they were safe and were now prescribing these drugs to more and more people. Suddenly, you saw a whole lot more people getting prescription opioids. However, eventually it came up that these drugs weren’t just addictive, but highly so. At this point, the crisis we see today was only a matter of time.

How it’s different

Some people are wonder how exactly the opioid crisis differs from previous drugs of the past, like the crack epidemic. Mainly, the big thing is that these drugs are legal. A person could (and still can) go to their doctor and get a prescription of these pills for a wide variety of things. This makes them widely available to nearly anyone, increasing the number of addictions.

Plus, most people aren’t even aware that they’re developing a dependency on the drugs. It’s only once their prescription ends, and withdrawal symptoms set in, that they realize what’s happened. It’s at this point where they may seek out more of these drugs, or even more powerful, illegal drugs like heroin.

What we see today

These days, the opioid crisis is in what researchers call the third wave. The first was the mass prescriptions in the 1990’s, and the second was the rise in heroin use from opioid users in the early 2010’s. However, the third wave is about the recent rise in synthetic drugs like fentanyl. Drugs like these are responsible for the highest rise in opioid-related deaths.