A Long Look at Opioids

In this video, the History of Opioids, you’ll watch a historical overview of people and opioids. They take a look at when people first started using opioids, how they’ve changed over the years, and ways that they’ve been both amazingly positive as really effective painkillers and devastating to individuals and social orders.

They also explore the early accounts of opiate use, addiction, and treatment, and touch on the Opium Wars in China. The evolution from raw opium latex to the powerful drugs derived from opium today traces a clear history of increasing addiction as opioids were available in more and more powerful preparations.

Overdoses Common

The New Yorker states “By 2010, the United States, with about five per cent of the world’s population, was consuming ninety-nine per cent of the world’s hydrocodone (the narcotic in Vicodin), along with eighty per cent of the oxycodone (in Percocet and OxyContin), and sixty-five per cent of the hydromorphone (in Dilaudid).”

“As narcotics prescriptions surged, so did deaths from opioid-analgesic overdoses—from about four thousand to almost seventeen thousand. Studies have shown that patients who receive narcotics for chronic pain are less likely to recover function, and are less likely to go back to work. The potential side effects of prescription narcotics include constipation, sexual dysfunction, cognitive impairment, addiction, and overdosing.”

The Medical Community’s Viewpoint

The Federation of State Medical Boards recently noted that “[Our] most recent policy reflects the considerable body of research and experience accrued since our last series of formal policies related to opioid prescribing and addiction were adopted in 2004. Our latest guidelines, adopted this year, acknowledge that evidence for the risk associated with opioids has surged, while evidence for the benefits of opioids for long-term use has remained controversial and insufficient.”