Opioid Crisis Turns Global
It is no secret the US is battling one of the most deadly epidemics our country has ever faced. The threat is not terrorism, guns, or AIDS, but opioids such as heroin, morphine, and prescription painkillers. Responsible for 64,000 deaths in 2016 this drug crisis is still on the upswing, of these deaths 42,000 were attributed to heroin and opioid pain pills.
Opioids are not only a problem in our nation, but worldwide addiction is up at all-time highs.
Strong opiates are tightly controlled in Europe but several EU countries allow over-the-counter sales of a milder pain medication: codeine. While less dangerous than heroin or fentanyl, codeine is turned into morphine in the liver and can still be toxic in high doses.
Iran is said to have an increase in drug users by 50% since 2011 and around ⅔ of the drugs are opioids. Iran shares a border with Afghanistan which has been known as one of the top producing countries for poppy (the main ingredient used in heroin production). The cultivation of this plant is currently unregulated in Afghanistan creating a large concern in the Middle East.
The most recent synthetic opioid killer that has came into the mix is Fentanyl. The deadly opioid is prescribed in Germany three times higher of the rate than in the USA. Fentanyl is also common in Canada, attributing for 70% of the overdose deaths the country experienced in 2017.
Asian countries are just now experiencing the mass promotion of opioids with full campaigns including billboards and commercials promoting the use of prescription pain pills. China already known for opium use throughout history is now facing the pharmaceutical company mass marketing and will certainly be next on the list for addiction rates and overdoses skyrocketing.
The US has weighed in on how other countries can limit this epidemic by learning from what America has been going through since 2010. Suggestions include banning all advertising campaigns for opioids, restructuring drug trafficking laws, and only allowing government and nonprofits to distribute opioids for long-term use. Awareness is key and the most addiction is destigmatized and the more mental health awareness is brought to light worldwide is the only way we can come out of this crisis.