In case you’ve been hiding under a rock, President Trump declared the opioid crisis a national public health emergency on Thursday. Opioids are commonly known as addictive painkillers, acting on opioid receptors in nerve cells but also releasing a sense of euphoria.
The life expectancy of American citizens is actually decreasing for the first time in decades as a result of the opioid crisis. While the U.S.’s life expectancy is rather low for such a developed country, this issue is only getting worse due to the opioid epidemic.
Recently life expectancy in the United States decreased by 0.1 years. The last time an issue this serious caused a decrease in life expectancy to occur in America was at the height of the AIDS crisis in the 1993.
Certain opioids are extremely dangerous and even more likely to cause an accidental overdose or a potential addiction. The opioid Fentanyl has become one of the leading causes of substance abuse deaths, and in 2016, it caused over 20,000 overdose deaths alone. Other opioids with a high risk of overdose include carfentanil, oxycodone, hydrocodone, and morphine.
In 2017, overdose rates are expected to double and show no indication of slowing down. People who are taking any of these opioids as medication should discuss changing to a different form of treatment with their doctor, and those abusing heroin or other opioids should seek treatment right away.
Opioids don’t just cause problems for those who experience an overdose. These drugs actually increase one’s chances of heart disease, which is still the leading cause of death in the U.S. In addition, opioids can cause a person to be much more likely to have an accident or hurt themselves, or if they are driving under the influence, to hurt someone else. The opioid epidemic is negatively affecting all Americans, and needs to be addressed immediately.