The US is in the grip of an opiate epidemic right now that is causing the loss of thousands of precious American lives. According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 82,000 people died from opioid-related drug overdose in 2022, an increase from the numbers in 2021. Not just illegal opioids like heroin, but a considerable percentage of these overdose deaths involved prescribed opioids, mainly fentanyl.
Especially in New York City, America’s most populated and central business hub, the opioid epidemic is slowly becoming more and more severe. The city’s drug overdose deaths have shockingly quadrupled since the last decade! According to New York’s Office of Addiction Services and Supports official report, over 5400 New Yorkers lost their lives to opioid overdose in 2022.
These deaths could have been prevented by proper public awareness and timely administration of treatment and care. While public health authorities are working tirelessly, spending millions of dollars on preventive measures to slow down and control the opioid epidemic, health services like Fusion Recovery and Optum also play their part in the fight against opiates in New York.
Let’s have an overview of the current opiate overdose epidemic in New York and see how Fusion Recovery, in collaboration with Optum, is helping in controlling and preventing its spread. So stay with us till the end!
What Are Opiates? An Overview
Before we go more into the topic of the ongoing opioid problem in NYC, first, let’s have an overview of opiates and understand what these substances actually are. Opiates, also known as opioids, are highly potent painkillers derived from the juice of the Opium Poppy plant. Opioids or opiates can be completely organically made, synthetic, or semi-synthetic.
Both prescribed and illegal opioids are available out there. You can buy prescribed opioids with opioid prescriptions from any pharmacy or medical store used to treat various ailments. However, illegal opioids smuggled mainly from Mexico or Colombia can be illegally bought from the streets. The most common opiate varieties include morphine, codeine, heroin, methadone, and fentanyl.
Heroin and Fentanyl – The Main Opiates
Out of all opiate varieties, the ones that have caused the most drug overdose deaths are heroin and fentanyl. Both of these substances are available through prescription as well as illegally and are the biggest contributors to the opioid problem in the United States. Let’s discuss them briefly and see how they affect their victims.
Heroin is the most popular opioid illegally sold on the streets and the single largest contributor to the total opioid overdose deaths in the United States. As per federal statistics, over seventy percent of overdose deaths are caused by heroin overdose. You’ll be even more shocked to know that every day, over 40 people in America die from overdosing on heroin.
Heroin is a powdered substance that can be smoked, snorted, or melted and injected directly into the bloodstream. This drug is mostly smuggled from Mexico and Colombia, but the FBI has also reported small-scale heroin production in America. It binds with the opioid receptors in the central nervous system and gives the user a strong euphoric feeling (also called a high), which lasts for a few minutes. The substance has a very high addictive potential and can easily be overdosed.
A relatively newer opioid that has just recently entered the market, fentanyl is a synthetic drug made from opium poppy. Even though the drug is very new, it has already made headlines and gained a notorious reputation for being the opioid with the highest potential for lethal overdose. This substance, untraceable because it has no color, smell, or taste, is fifty times more potent than heroin and can make its users dependent much more quickly.
Prescribed as well as illegal fentanyl is available out there. This drug, too, just like heroin, is mostly smuggled from Mexico. Drug dealers often add other illicit drugs to fentanyl to enhance its high. In recent years, the US has seen thousands of deaths from drugs laced with fatal quantities of fentanyl. That was when the substance got into the public eye and was seen as a big problem.
The Opioid Crisis in New York
New York City is the business center of the United States, and with a population of 8.4 million, it is also the most populated city in America. Most New Yorkers have very work-centered lives, making them more productive and efficient in their fields but also having several negative impacts.
Mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and stress have long been major public health issues in New York, and to cope with them, a considerable part of the adult New York population turns to drinking or using illegal recreational drugs, chiefly opioids!
Since the beginning of the 21st century, opioids have been the primary cause of overdose fatalities in the city. Since 2000, over 600,000 individuals have died from an opioid-related drug overdose. And even now, the epidemic is not slowing down but only worsening. The number of casualties is only rising each year despite the city’s public health departments and private health services working tirelessly day and night to save as many lives as possible.
What Led to the Opioid Crisis in NY?
Many contributing factors led to the opioid crisis in New York. Primarily, as discussed above, the overall degrading mental health of the New York City adult population is a big reason why the epidemic is not slowing down.
In addition to that, as per the New York Health Foundation, physician opioid prescribing practices are also a significant contributing factor to the epidemic. Opioids can be prescribed for various medical conditions and psychological issues; however, since these substances have a high potential for dependency, patients often end up getting addicted to and abusing them.
Another notable factor, as reported by the US Congressional Budget Office, was the record increase in mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, stressfulness, etc., during the COVID-19 pandemic. The peak quarantine period was a very tough time for New Yorkers, leading them to use not just prescribed opioids but illegal ones as well. This caused a noticeable spike in overdose deaths during that time.
Opioid Addiction and Its Effects
The use of opioids up to the point that you get dependent on them and it starts affecting your daily life is the stage of opioid addiction. These drugs bind with the opioid receptors in the CNS to give the user a quick burst of dopamine. Opioids are highly addictive, and even if you’re using them for medical purposes, they can make you dependent on them over time.
Opioid addiction is a grave issue and should never be taken lightly. Health problems associated with opioid addiction include higher risks of HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B and C, Heart Infections, blood vessel collapse, Lung Diseases, and most importantly, overdose. In addition to that, opioid addiction can also lead to severe mental health problems as well as social isolation, and even problems with the law.
New York’s Efforts to Combat the Opioid Overdose Crisis
The New York State Department of Health has taken many initiatives to combat the opiate overdose problem in the city. The department has set up special educational programs that guide and help healthcare providers adopt secure prescribing practices. In addition, many programs have been initiated that provide the general public with awareness of opioids and their harmful effects.
The public health department and law enforcement agencies such as NYDP and the DEA are also working tirelessly to stop the illegal distribution and sale of opioids in New York City.
The Need for Comprehensive Opioid Treatment Services
Although the efforts of New York’s public departments are essential for controlling the opioid situation in the city, the importance and need for comprehensive opioid treatment services cannot be denied. Health service providers can and are playing a pivotal role in stopping the opiate crisis from getting worse.
As discussed earlier, deaths from overdose are preventable. With timely administration of appropriate treatment and care, countless valuable lives can be saved. Harm reduction and overdose prevention measures can help opioid addicts get back on track and return to their everyday lives. Many healthcare providers, such as Fusion Recovery and Optum, are playing a big role in the fight against opioids in New York by providing Comprehensive Opioid Treatment Services.
Fusion Recovery Playing Its Part in the Fight Against Opiates in New York
Fusion Recovery is one of New York’s most reputable healthcare providers working on the front foot to combat the opioid problem in the city and providing its victims with the best rehabilitation and recovery services. Fusion Recovery has specialized rehab centers all over NY open around the clock to provide treatment and care to anyone in need. These centers are located in areas such as Albany, Wynantskill, Clifton Park, Burnt Hills, Melrose, Averill Park, and Troy.
Fusion Recovery designs highly effective specialized rehabilitation, recovery, and aftercare programs for its patients based on their medical data. These programs contain variations of treatments administered by highly-trained, experienced healthcare professionals. These treatments can include behavioral therapy sessions, medication administrations, counseling, detox programs, residential plans, and support groups.
Collaboration With Optum
Optum is an American healthcare benefits-providing company that is working closely with Fusion Recovery to combat the opioid situation in New York and help its victims. The company focuses on making healthcare services better and more affordable for victims so they can receive the care they need without worry!
The Call to Action
If you or a loved one is suffering from opioid addiction, reach out and get help as soon as possible. Thousands of lives can be saved by timely treatment and care of victims, so it is important to seek help as early as possible. You can visit any Fusion Recovery rehab center in NY or the official website to begin your or your loved one’s treatment!
Final Thoughts – The Fight Against Opiates in New York: Fusion Recovery’s Collaboration With Optum
New York City is amid an opiate epidemic, with overdose deaths increasing yearly. Many factors contribute to this crisis, including the city’s high stress levels, the overprescribing of opioids by doctors, and the illegal distribution of opioids.
Many efforts are also underway to combat the crisis, including education and awareness programs. If you or a loved one is fighting opioid addiction, please seek help. Many resources are available to you, and early intervention is essential for recovery.