The opioid crisis is on the rise and has been affecting the U.S. dramatically. Opioids are a class of drugs including heroin and a variety of painkillers. In the U.S., from 1999 to 2017, there have been more than 400,000 opioid overdoses. The numbers are only increasing. In 2017, there has been a significant increase. City Sheriff says, “We are having an opioid epidemic in North Carolina.” Many people are affected by opioids since they can be prescribed by your doctor and are easily accessible. A large majority of opioids are painkillers, so if you broke your arm, you could potentially become addicted to opioids. Our county especially is a victim of opioids. According to Addiction Center, just in 2016, 17 million painkillers have been prescribed in Buncombe County. The opioid epidemic is on the rise and we need to stop it.
Many people take opiates as a way of escaping from the real world, but using these drugs can have some consequences that many aren’t fully informed about. Some major physical effects of opiates on the body are Increased sensitivity to sensory stimuli, constricted blood vessels, increased heart rate, high blood pressure, increased energy, decreased appetite, physical agitation, difficulty sleeping, over-arousal and hyper-vigilance. There are also a lot of mental side effects of opiates including increased general anxiety, anxiety attacks, euphoria, psychosis, depression, irritability, and lowered motivation. Opioids have many terrible consequences on your body and mind but can also have negative effects on the community surrounding you.
The opioid epidemic is a very serious issue in Asheville and Buncombe County. Opioids and other prescription drugs are on the rise in Asheville and are leading to many deaths and other issues. According to Sheriff Quentin Miller, there have been 110 opioid overdoses in Buncombe County this year, and that number is increasing. A side effect of opioid and other pain medication abuse is Heroin abuse, which is also on the rise in NC. Bluebanner.net said that many college students are coming to UNCA with pain medication addiction, and when they can't get their hands on oxycontin, they turn to heroin as a cheaper alternative. Recently, there have been initiatives towards investigating narcotic transportation through North Carolina. This narcotic transportation line is how many opioids get into North Carolina, and most recently how Mexican Black Tar Heroin has been getting in. According to Sheriff Quentin Miller, “Not a week has gone by where someone hasn’t died from opioids.” These drugs are destroying our very communities which we call home, and have cause pain in many’s lives.
Opioids affect our communities in many ways. The opioid crisis has caused pain and suffering to families in our community. They break up homes from the lack of trust between family members. Opioids can cause homelessness and increase crime rates, as well as incarceration rates. Incarceration rates further strain the taxpayers. Opioids can increase the number of deaths from an overdose which affects the police/fire departments because they are required to tend to the opioid users. But instead, they could be spending their time dealing with different issues.
Though getting addicted to opioids seems very hard to recover from, there is still hope. Several rehabilitation centers have popped up throughout Buncombe County. The Sheriff of Asheville says that they just received money from the state to create a rehab program for jail inhabitants in Asheville. A few of the rehab programs focusing on opioids in Buncombe County are Crest View Recovery Center, Mountain Treatment Center and Western Carolina Treatment Center. As well as these centers people all around the country are taking actions to help prevent and stop the opioid epidemic from becoming bigger than it already is. The first step is becoming aware of this problem. Make sure you know how addictive painkillers are and warn others about this ongoing issue. Hopefully, we will rise and spread awareness about this urgent topic in today’s world.
By Olivia Crosson, Liv Suydam, Will Euler, and Talula Perry