The death toll from prescription opioids continues to rise. The phrase “opioid epidemic” is so consistently seen in the news it is almost cliché. However, there is nothing clichéd about what is happening in towns all over the country. The Center for Disease Control says every day 1,000 people are treated for opioid abuse. Roughly two million people are addicted to these medications. The National Institute on Drug Abuse says that 50,000 Americans died from opioid abuse in 2016.
A surprising statistic that you may not see on the nightly news is that opioid addiction is also hitting health professionals. In Washington State, 33 medical providers died from opioid overdoses in the past five years.
This article discusses the disturbing statistics relating to overdose deaths among healthcare professionals in Washington State. What may be causing this trend? Where can healthcare professionals go for help if they are battling addiction?
Washington State Drug Rehab Providers Also Affected by Opioids
A recent article in The Spokesman-Review spotted the trend. Nurses, pharmacy techs, and substance use counselors are becoming addicted and dying from these powerful drugs. The fact that these are clinical professionals, who well understand the danger of opioids, is both startling and revelatory. Opioids are powerful enough to addict even those who understand how truly dangerous these drugs are.
These drugs can be easily obtained by medical providers, which The Spokesman-Review suggests is what led to the deaths of the Washington State healthcare providers that recently overdosed.
- Oxycodone gives users a feeling of euphoria, which makes it extremely addictive. This synthetic man-made compound is close to heroin or morphine in make-up and is just as addictive.
- Hydrocodone is one of the most frequently prescribed painkillers in the U.S. Typically, the drug is prescribed after surgery, but it is critical that this drug is used for short episodic treatment because dependence can quickly cause problems.
- Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine. The high user’s experience is similar to heroin. It is often mixed with heroin or other illegal street drugs and is often the cause of overdose.
For the providers working in Washington State drug rehab, it is almost the perfect storm of high-stress jobs, long hours, easy access, and a familiarity with the opioids their patients are abusing. In fact, the article suggested that nurses are common abusers of opioid medications; 558 health care providers were sanctioned by the health department from 2010 to 2016 for alcohol or drug violations.
Getting Help in Washington State Drug Rehab
For nurses, pharmacists, physicians, and counselors, there is often a sense of “they should have known better.” This can add to the stigma surrounding substance abuse, which makes it even harder for a clinical provider to seek treatment. Fortunately, there are recovery programs available that provide a variety of physical, mental, and behavioral treatments to help the healthcare professional with substance use disorder return to health. If you or someone you know needs help from a Washington State drug rehab facility, we are standing by to help.