Psychologists are assisting in the treatment of opioid addiction

It was a terrible turning point. More than 33,000 people died in the United States from opioid-related overdoses in 2015, a new high. While 2016 data isn't yet available, there's every reason to expect the opioid crisis in the United States will continue.

12/21/20221 min read

Opioids are a group of medications that are used to treat pain. Prescription painkillers including oxycodone (OxyContin), hydrocodone (Vicodin), and morphine, as well as the illegal narcotic heroin, are among them. These medications can elicit sensations of relaxation and exhilaration in addition to being efficient painkillers. Unfortunately, these potent substances can cause people to become psychologically and physically reliant on them.

Drug overdose deaths nearly tripled between 1999 and 2014, according to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in December. An opioid is currently involved in more than 60% of overdose deaths ( MMWR , 2016).

According to Brent Moore, PhD, a research psychologist at Yale School of Medicine and the VA Connecticut Healthcare System who investigates treatments for opioid use disorder, the rise can be related in large part to easy access. According to the CDC, the number of prescription opioids sold in the United States has nearly doubled since 1999. Moore claims that as opioid sales soared, so did dependence.

However, prescription drug abuse is only one aspect of the problem. As access to prescription opioids has grown more difficult due to new laws, many people who have become physiologically reliant on the medicines have sought alternatives. In the United States, an estimated 2.1 million people have substance use problems connected to prescription opioid pain medications, and 467,000 people are addicted to heroin.