Drug addiction is a topic we all familiar with; most likely someone really close is dealing with this terrible diseases. The mistreatment of and habit to opioids: this includes prescriptions, pain relievers, heroin street drugs, and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, is a serious national crisis that affects public health as well as social and economic welfare. America has finally realized that this is a problem sad that it took so many years for it to become a “public health” issue. Every day with in a small community all over the United States someone has an overdose; this disease is spreading and fast. Once an addict people no longer care about their overall health their priority is to get the next high; and of course the last thing everyone thinks about it’s the oral health. The drug war in America needs to be address and getting it to stop, its damaging the on growing new generations of human.

Drug Abuse in America

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Heroin use and abuse in America has dramatically increased over the past decade. Between 2006 and 2013, federal records indicated that the number of first-time heroin users doubled from 90,000 to 169,000. It was during the outbreak of heroin abuse in the late 1960’s that the use of the term “epidemic” to describe drug abuse came into vogue. There is a long history of drug abuse in society. It is also a prevalent problem where it has not gotten better but instead worst. The application of epidemiology to the study of drug study is relatively new. With most social behavior, the etiology of drug abuse is complex, varying through time by geographic region and by demographic characteristics. These figures, and an epidemic of more recent stories and overwhelming statistics, have prompted officials across the country to implement bold new policies and practices designed to reduce the harm of heroin use. The fact that now it has increased the help to these patients with this disease; that the country has finally turned around and has a plan to end or at least for these humans to feel isolated from their communities because they are the “danger” to the communities. There is so much support just to mention a few. We have now hotlines, needle safe programs, volunteers to clean infected parks, prevention programs, youth interventions, transitional support services, and ambulatory services. This is amazing news. But it forms a contrast with the harsh reaction a generation ago to the sudden rise in the use of crack cocaine, and from the harsh reaction two generations ago to another heroin epidemic. But there may be another explanation for the less hysterical reaction, but as a whole we are not willing to acknowledge: race. America’s racial divide, the unequal response to the black heroin epidemic of the 1960s, in which then the response is to demonize and punish, when it’s white, and then we search for answers. Granted we are today more informed about the understanding of the human brain, and the physiological process. The crack epidemic of the 1980s devastated communities of color, the legal and political responses to the crisis escalated the tragedy. Crack was an inner-city drug, a street-corner drug which white America largely experienced from a distance. The federal Anti-Drug Abuse Act, passed in 1986, imposed mandatory-minimum sentences that were far harsher on users of crack cocaine than on those found with the drug in powdered form. Why then was not an issue when the numbers were also increasing at a very fast pace. Drug abuse has changed from an inner city, minority centered problem to one that has a more widespread geographical spread, involving primarily white men and women in their late 20s living outside of large urban areas. Today we give this issue more importance and more money for research because it is the other race that is being mostly affected and now we take action. Can you imagine the Congress and the White House of 1985 debating a “Recovery Enhancement for Addiction Act” for crack users?

Effects of Drug Abuse

The original causes of drug abuse are as diverse as the population that they will affect. Drug abuse is one of the world biggest health problems; here in the United States has been affecting families for years. Measuring drug abuse is difficult to interpret because drug abuse is an illegal behavior; and most are not honest. Nearly every day, more than 150 people in the United States are dying after overdosing on opioids. Roughly 21 to 29 percent of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them. Between 8 and 12 percent develop an opioid use disorder. About 80 percent of people who use heroin first misused prescription opioids. Opioid overdoses increased 30 percent from July 2016 through September 2017 in 52 areas in 45 states. These numbers are not necessarily in adults our young generation from the 2000’s are being affected as well. They are many factors personally, micro, and macro levels. Research have revealed that as early as 12 to 14 years old to late 15 to 17; our adolescents is a at critical risk (United Nations, 2018). In the summer of 2017, National Institution of Drug Abuse met with pharmaceutical companies and academic research centers to discuss: safe, effective, non-addictive strategies to manage chronic pain, advanced medications and technologies to treat opioid use disorders. The misuse of drugs have sparked all kinds of related disease from the side effect that these drugs have on the human body. (Adams, 2019)

Drugs are chemicals that affect the body and brain. Brain reward circuits-dopamine is. The primary neurotransmitter involved in drug abuse and addiction. Different drugs can have different effects. Some effects of drugs include health consequences that are long-lasting and permanent. They can even continue after a person has stopped taking the substance (Effects of Drug Abuse 2019). Addicts ignore their health problems and when seeking health care only when the disease it has already reached an advanced disease. Drug abuse results in several direct consequences including multiple physical and mental problems such as cardiac crisis, respiratory depression, liver damage, infectious diseases such as hepatitis, AIDS, and tuberculosis, injury-associated disability, mental disorders such as depression, and oral health (Adams, 2019). In this regard, these patients may give little priority to their oral health by seeking only emergency treatment during the period of drug abuse.

This disease is associated with serious oral health problems including generalized dental caries, periodontal diseases, mucosal dysplasia, xerostomia, bruxism, tooth wear, and tooth loss. Most people just know that meth abuse damages teeth, from public health advertisements. Yet, they may not know how this occurs, how quickly it can happen, or that other drugs are also involved. Meth causes blood vessels to shrivel and die, and this causes problems in the gums. Meth also makes the mouth dry out, and without saliva, other acids in the mouth wear away enamel. Since the drug is a stimulant, it causes people who take it to grind their teeth due to stress; people who struggle with meth addiction also crave sugary foods and drink, which can damage oral hygiene (How Drug Abuse affects, 2018).Cocaine comes in contact with teeth, it will break down the enamel. Smoking anything, including marijuana, can lead to cancer in the mouth. This drug is also known to cause dry mouth, which will wear away at enamel due to an imbalance of acids in the mouth. Antihistamines will lead to gum problems from dry mouth, (How Drug Abuse affects, 2018). Dental surgery may lead to opioid addiction, for some. Oral surgery to correct dental problems is common, and dentists typically prescribe a course of opioid painkillers after surgery. Oral health damages due to drug abuse will cause teeth to be lost, and gum disease.


In 2009 between 149 and 272 million 13- to 64-year-olds around the world reported using illegal drugs at least once during one year. Among them, reports are that 11 to 21 million were injecting drug users, mainly from China, the USA, and Russia (Effects of Drug Abuse 2019). Based on a report from 2002, drug abuse has increased at a growth rate three times as great as the population growth rate. As a Dental Hygienist that is considering working in public health makes me so much more aware of our society’s problems, and how is being handled. I remember from my Human Development class we say a documentary about people just to treat the problem and not find the reason why we have this problem to begin with. This is the kind of provider I want to become to my patients. I want to advocate about the informants of the oral health in any circumstances; being able to understand that all my patients all have a different style of living understanding where they come from and what’s assessable or not; and getting this information to people that need to hear this. There is so much that happens in our communities that outshine by all that bad that happens, but it’s very difficult to people reach out and help because they can’t relate. I can very vivid until this day.

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