TimerCap CEO suggests better compliance packaging policies could help curb the opioid crisis in America.
New research suggests emotional abuse may be one of the root causes for people with opioid dependency, a finding researchers say calls for new approaches to treatment. Reuters/Amir Cohen

The opioid epidemic in the U.S. has given rise to some major heart problems amongst the people. A study was conducted last year which said the number of Americans hospitalized with heart infections caused by use of injected opioid is rising rapidly.

Researchers from Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston said this finding was disturbing because it referred to a rising trend of opioid addiction in the U.S., according to Science Daily.

The rising drug abuse in the nation has led to an increase in hospitalizations for infective endocarditis (IE) - a heart valve infection which occurs due to injection drug abuse. The researchers found that the IE hospitalizations related to drug use increased from seven percent in 2,000 to 12 percent in 2013, the study said.

According to drugabuse.com, any method of drug injection, be it intravenous, intramuscular or subcutaneous, can result in various health issues. They can lead to inflammation or collapsed veins, skin infections, and swelling of the feet, ankles.

However, cases of IE are on the rise. For example, in places like Boston, doctors are getting many such patients. WCVB.com, an ABC affiliate, reported, citing Dr. Alysse Wurcel, a doctor at Tufts Medical Center: "In Boston, especially, we feel like we're taking care of a lot more cases of infective endocarditis related to injection drug use...Left untreated, it's a fatal condition."

Read: Ohio Teenager Dies Of Heroin Overdose

At a meeting in March about the "Use and Misuse of Fentanyl and Other Synthetic Opioids," Wilson M. Compton, Deputy Director, National Institute on Drug Abuse, spoke about the side-effects of opioid addiction.

He said: “The misuse of and addiction to opioids – including prescription pain medicines, heroin, and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl – is a serious national problem that affects public health as well as social and economic welfare.”

He also said the opioid epidemic is leading to a public health epidemic in the U.S. Opioid abuse is not just responsible for overdose deaths but also causing rising incidents of neonatal abstinence syndrome due to opioid use during pregnancy. Spread of infectitious diseases, including HIV and hepatitis C are also on the rise.

Compton also added: “Recent research has also found a significant increase in mid-life mortality in the United States particularly among white Americans with less education. Increasing death rates from drug and alcohol poisonings are believed to have played a significant role in this change”

According to a 2015 report of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, apart from mortality, other health problems are also associated with opioid abuse. Rates of emergency department visits associated with pharmaceutical misuse or abuse increased 114 percent between 2004 and 2011.

Also, the admission rate for substance abuse treatment for prescription opioid abuse in 2009 was almost six times greater than what it was in 1992. Opioid abuse can also lead to fractures in older adults.

And a report published just last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated the opioid epidemic in the U.S. had led to cases of new hepatitis C virus infections in the U.S. trebling from 850 in 2010 to 2,436 in 2015. And these are highest among young people aged 20 to 29, who inject drugs.

“Recent CDC research has identified increasing injection drug use - tied to the US opioid epidemic - in rural and suburban areas across the country,” said Dr. John Ward, an author of the new report and director of the division of viral hepatitis at the CDC.