USA- The ems1.com reports that the opioid epidemic kills an average of around 116 people in the United States every day. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that there are three main phases of the current drug crisis. First, pharmaceutical companies started pushing opioid medication in the 1990s. The increase in prescriptions for opioids started causing an uptick in opioid overdose deaths.
The second phase involved increases in heroin overdoses. This wave began in 2010. In part the heroin crisis involved people who had been cut off of prescription drugs, leading them to resort to illegal forms of opioids.
In 2013, the third wave began. Around this time, there was an increase in deaths resulting from synthetic opioids. Fentanyl’s market began growing, and the illicit drug started appearing blended with other drugs as well.
One problem that is occurring as a result of the crisis is the issue of secondary victims, namely infants who are born addicted to opioids. When mothers use opioids throughout their pregnancy, the drugs get into the baby’s system. These infants than are born dependent on the drug and start their lives in a state of withdrawal.
The resulting condition is called Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS). Infants exposed to opioids prior to being born may show signs of withdrawal within 24 hours of being born, or they may not show symptoms for up to 10 days. Symptoms include tremors, sleep problems, irritability, high pitch crying, hyperactive reflexes, tight muscle tone, vomiting, poor feeding, seizures, diarrhea, dehydration, sweating, and fevers. The symptoms can lead to dangerous complications and birth defects.
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