The growing opioid epidemic is creating an unprecedented crisis in the United States.
While most Americans are not facing the consequences of a pandemic, those with a chronic medical condition are being prescribed the most potent painkillers, including heroin and fentanyl.
That has put tens of thousands of people at risk of overdose.
In some cases, they are also at risk for fatal overdoses.
A growing number of states are considering legalizing marijuana as a safer alternative to prescription opioids.
But experts warn that while the drugs have fewer side effects, they also pose far greater risks to the public than prescription opioids because they are addictive and often are prescribed without the proper medical oversight.
“There’s a tremendous amount of risk to people who are already addicted,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, a nonprofit advocacy group that focuses on the drug war and public health.
“I’m not saying that it’s the end of the world, but I am saying that people are in a very dangerous place.”
It’s not just doctors and doctors groups who are warning that the opioid crisis is leading to a new era of abuse.
Experts say that many people are taking their own lives due to the escalating number of opioid prescriptions and that the federal government is not doing enough to regulate the industry.
The number of Americans using opioid painkillers more than doubled between 2014 and 2016, according to a recent study by the nonprofit Drug Policy Action.
And over the last several years, the number of people in the U.S. who have died from opioid overdoses has nearly tripled.
There were nearly 7,000 opioid-related deaths in the country in 2017, the most recent year for which figures are available, according, to the CDC.
The rise in overdoses has prompted a number of state and local governments to enact their own measures to curb the growth in prescription opioids and other drugs of abuse, as well as a surge in the use of heroin and synthetic opioids, which are manufactured with fentanyl.
In many states, law enforcement agencies have stepped up enforcement and launched sting operations to bust dealers and people using the illegal drugs.
But the opioid epidemic has left many people in a dangerous place, said Dr of Health and Medicine Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School Dr. David Heymann.
“You’ve got a lot of people that are on these opioids, they’ve got this underlying substance abuse disorder, and they’re using them as a way to control it,” said Heymann, who was also a doctor and the co-author of a study on the opioid issue that was published last year.
Heymann said many of these people are “taking opioids for pain management problems, and it’s not clear what the harm is.”
Dr. Heyman said there are three things that need to be done to help people stay off opioids: “First, we have to look at the supply side of the problem.
You know, it’s really not a question of whether we have more opioids than we need, it is a question about what the supply is going to be in the future.”
The opioid crisis has caused a massive increase in the availability of painkillers that have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in the treatment of cancer or other chronic conditions.
The new opioids, such as fentanyl, are so potent they can cause a person to become so dependent that they can’t function normally and can die in a matter of hours, a problem that experts say has become a huge public health issue.
Some doctors are also worried about the increasing number of heroin users.
“The problem is the number and the size of heroin addiction,” said one senior health care official, who asked not to be named.
“What you see now is a whole new population that’s trying to make their own heroin and it may be as high as 50 percent of people are using heroin.”
Some doctors say that the increased number of prescription opioid painkiller prescriptions could be a symptom of a bigger problem.
“This is a public health crisis.
This is a crisis for all Americans.
This epidemic is now affecting people’s lives in many ways,” said the senior health official, adding that there are a number “of other things that we need to do to reduce the demand.”
While the public is not being informed about the dangers of opioids and the overdose risk they pose, the problem is becoming even more acute in some states.
Dr. Sabet said there’s a “very good chance” that more people will be using heroin, and he said that the rise in heroin use is a problem for the health care system because “if you are going to have a lot more people using heroin in the same population, you are not going to treat those conditions.”
“There is no doubt that we have an overdose crisis, but we have a crisis that is not even being addressed,” said Sabet.
“So it is really up to us as a public, as physicians, to make sure that we are providing appropriate care and being mindful of the potential for addiction, not just to those with