While opioid addiction has been gripping the US since long, researchers are putting in efforts to find out the scale of the issue in Europe.

Opioid dependence has tremendous negative impact on parents and children destroying lives and breaking up families. When used correctly, drugs such as morphine, hydrocodone, oxycodone and fentanyl provide the much needed pain relief to patients, especially after surgery or during treatment for cancer. Unfortunately, opioids also have those qualities that can make people addictive and force them to overuse thus making them victims to drug abuse.

Heroin and other opioid drugs affect the social, health and economic well-being in communities. Opioid addiction does not discriminate between occupations, socio-economic status or ethnic groups. Once addicted, users find it difficult to fight and overcome the habit. In this context, doctors who develop and use tactics and opioid policies are better equipped to deal with the increasing prevalence of opioid addiction and overdose.

Opioids are more prevalent and readily available today because of intense marketing campaigns by pharmaceutical companies. According to a 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, almost 2 million Americans were dependent on or abused prescription opioids. Artificial opioids create endorphins in the brain, amplifying the positive feelings and euphoria.  Patients feel sick and become depressed when they are not using narcotics. They experience uncontrollable craving, which is relieved only by increasing the use of opioids. Finance and personal relationships are seriously affected because patients do everything possible to acquire other opioids.  Most users of heroin report that non-medical use of opioid analgesics was the first step that they started with.

Socio-Economic Impact

The effects of opioids are seen in all areas of Europe, especially in the health sector. Emergency room visits are mounting as they spend billions of dollars on medical care for those addicted to opioids. In addition to the socio-economic effects, this crisis contributes to depression, anxiety, missed days of work or school, unemployment, dropout rates and lost productivity among those addicted to opioids. Further, the epidemic is adversely affecting families, which leads to the increase of divorce, single-parent families and child abuse and neglect.