The opioid issue in the United States is now an epidemic. These drugs have made many people develop dangerous addictions and have cost many people their lives. It’s irresponsible for pharmaceutical companies to flood the country with opioids, but that doesn’t stop them. You may have legal options that you can explore if you’ve been negatively affected by prescription opioids and a resulting addiction. An opioid litigation lawyer from Prince Law Firm will protect your rights.
With our help, you may be able to get compensation that will help with recovery or with the financial loss of someone who passed away because of an overdose. While experiencing a wrongful death in the family is painful, getting justice on your loved one’s behalf may give you peace of mind.
First, let’s take a look at the impact opioids have had on our community.
How Opioids Have Hurt Illinois
While the entire country is feeling the painful outcome of having an opioid issue, Illinois has been struggling more in recent years. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), opioid-related deaths in Illinois have increased. They reported the following:
- 1,946 opioid overdose deaths in 2016.
- Heroin overdose deaths doubled from 583 in 2013 to 1,008 in 2016.
- Prescription opioid overdose deaths quadrupled from 344 in 2013 to 1,233 in 2016.
- Synthetic opioid overdose deaths increased from 87 in 2013 to 879 in 2016.
- 80 percent of drug overdoses involved opioids in 2016.
If you’ve lost a loved one because of a drug overdose, you should get in touch with an opioid litigation lawyer in Illinois as soon as possible. We may be able to provide some relief for your family.
Types of Prescription Opioid Drugs
Opioid painkillers are a class of drug that can treat people with moderate to high amounts of pain. This class includes illegal drugs such as heroin, as well as fentanyl, oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, codeine, and more. You may also know prescription drugs names like OxyContin, which is oxycodone, and Vicodin, which is hydrocodone. Let’s break down the various types of opioids:
- Fentanyl. This drug is a synthetic opioid that is usually used to treat breakthrough pain. When people are already on a medication plan but still have bouts of pain, fentanyl can help.
- Oxycodone. This form of opioid is common and can be given for short-acting and long-acting pain. Oxycodone can be combined with aspirin and acetaminophen.
- Hydrocodone. Used to treat short-acting pain, this drug can also be combined with aspirin and acetaminophen.
- Morphine. This is one of the strongest opioids and often given to people with chronic pain.
- Codeine. This medication is usually taken orally and used to treat short-acting pain.
- Hydromorphone. A fast-acting drug, hydromorphone is a short-acting drug that can also be a morphine substitute.
- Methadone. Methadone can be used to help people struggling with an addition to opioids through a weaning method. People in chronic pain can also use this for pain management.
- Oxymorphone. Another drug that can be used in place of morphine, oxymorphone is a drug that can treat both short-acting and long-acting pain.
- Pentazocine. A drug similar to codeine, it’s important to know that this drug may affect seniors more than others and give them symptoms of confusion and anxiety.
All these drugs have the potential to make people develop addictions. It’s important to know what happens when you take opioids so you get a better understanding of why so many people become dependent on them.
What You Need to Know About Opioids
While they can be effective painkillers, opioids are also highly addictive because of how they affect the brain. When a person takes an opioid, the drug binds and activates to receptors on brain cells, spinal cord cells, and other organs as well. Opioids then do two things: they block pain signals and release dopamine, which makes the person feel euphoric and painless.
Because of this feeling, people can misuse the drug and develop an addiction. There are a few ways people can abuse their prescription. If the person takes the medicine in a different way than prescribed, takes a dose that wasn’t prescribed, uses drugs from a prescription that was not for them, or only takes the medicine to get the euphoric high, they are abusing the drug.
It’s incorrect to think that just because a drug is prescribed doesn’t make it dangerous, especially when it’s misused. Opioid side effects can include feelings of drowsiness, confusion, nausea, and slow breathing. One of the most dangerous side effects is hypoxia, or when the brain isn’t getting enough oxygen. People may suffer from neurological effects including brain damage or go into a coma. Hypoxia can also be fatal.
When a pregnant woman uses opioids, the drug could cause a lot of harm to the fetus. There’s a chance of the bay having Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS), a condition where a baby has a drug withdrawal syndrome.
NAS can affect how the fetus grows and develops, cause premature birth, and the baby can suffer from dehydration, issues with feeding, seizures, and irritability. An infant with NAS may also have birth complications like low birth weight, jaundice, breathing problems, and sepsis.
If you were prescribed opioids that led to an addiction and hurt your baby, one of our Illinois opioid litigation lawyers may be able to help you. It’s painful to see your child have to go through NAS, but we can help you fight to get compensation that could aid in their recovery.
Why Is Breaking an Addiction So Difficult?
After people develop an addiction to the painless, euphoric sensation that opioids provide, it’s just as hard to break the addiction because going off the drug is often painful and unpleasant.
Withdrawal symptoms can set as soon as a few hours after the person stopped taking the drug. People in withdrawal can often feel:
- Gastrointestinal problems and vomiting
- Cold flashes
- Pain in their muscles or bones
- Trouble controlling leg movement
- Issues with sleeping
While someone in opioid withdrawal may experience these uncomfortable symptoms, they’re also fighting the need to take another dose because they’re addicted to how the opioid drug makes them feel. Many people aren’t able to do this on their own or immediately cut out opioid use because of how intense the withdrawal symptoms and cravings are. This can lead to addicts finding other ways to maintain that comfortable, elated feeling that they may not even realize as a type of “high”.
What Are Street Opioids?
While people can get addicted to opioids through their prescriptions, eventually that prescription may run out or their doctor may realize they’re likely addicted and try and cut them off completely. Unfortunately, this may mean that they may try to seek other methods of obtaining the drug to ease their pain or discomfort.
People may try to purchase illicitly manufactured opioids; but there are so many unknowns about how these drugs are made, what is actually in them, and their potency that make them more dangerous than prescribed opioids. Derivatives of fentanyl have been found in the United States that are 100 times more potent than what’s prescribed. The people who purchase these drugs have no way of knowing exactly what’s in the drugs they’ve purchased. When they use them, they may use the same amount that they did with their prescription. But there’s no guarantee about the dosage. Unfortunately, this can lead to overdosing.
There’s another drug that people may turn to as well: heroin. An addiction to opioids is a risk factor for abusing heroin, although the number of people who switch to heroin after opioid abuse is small.
Heroin produces a similar high to prescription opioids and is often much cheaper, which may make it more desirable than paying for other forms of opioids. But the same risks still apply to heroin. The buyer truly has no idea what’s in the drugs they’ve bought. The heroin could possibly be laced with fentanyl. If a person takes too much, they could easily overdose.
Reach Out to Prince Law Firm for Help
If you or a loved one is struggling with an opioid addiction, you may be wondering how a lawyer can help you in the first place. But when it comes to opioids, pharmaceutical companies sometimes aren’t forthright about their drugs.
For example, Purdue Pharma, the company that pushed OxyContin and MS Contin in the late 90s, was found to have known that their drugs were widely abused and then hid the information. Purdue Pharma marketed OxyContin as a safer opioid, while they knew that addicts were pursuing this drug. People were also getting MS Contin to extract morphine, so they could inject it.
Pharmaceutical companies are supposed to test their drugs to know everything about how they affect people. When they don’t have all the information, people may not know about the dangers of taking the drug. This also extends to doctors, who are supposed to inform their patients about dangerous drugs.
It’s suspect that pharmaceutical companies would push a drug they don’t seem to know much about. While they market them as safe, people are getting addicted. The companies may have failed to disclose all the information about how the drug works, how it affects those who take it, and warn doctors about the risks of prescribing their drug.
Our lawyers believe that those companies should take responsibility for the damage they’ve done. When they’ve sold their dangerous opioids for years that caused addiction, injury, and loss of life, we’re here to stand up to them. If you’ve suffered from an addiction or have family who has been affected by opioids, you may be able to get a monetary award for what you’ve been through. Give us a call today to schedule a free consultation.