Thousands of opioid lawsuits accuse pharmaceutical companies of downplaying the risk of addiction, overdose, and death from prescription opioid medications.
2,000+ Opioid Addiction Lawsuits Filed Nationwide
There are currently more than 2,000 opioid lawsuits pending in the federal court system. All of the lawsuits are seeking financial damages for costs associated with opioid addiction and abuse.
The lawsuits have been centralized under U.S. District Judge Dan A. Polster in the Northern District of Ohio — MDL 2804 — In RE: National Prescription Opiate Litigation.
What Do Lawsuits Claim?
Lawyers accuse pharmaceutical companies of grossly misrepresenting the risk of addiction from the long-term use of opioids by people with chronic pain.
Furthermore, drug distributors are accused of failing to properly monitor suspicious orders of those prescription drugs — all of which contributed to the current opioid epidemic.
Why Are Opioids So Addictive?
Prescription opioids are powerful pain-relieving medications that work by creating artificial endorphins in the brain. These endorphins block pain and make a person feel good. Over time, the feel-good effects of opioids lessens, and pain becomes worse. The person will need to take more opioids to experience the same positive effects. This can lead to addiction.
Why is it So Hard to Quit?
Prolonged opioid use causes the brain to stop producing its own endorphins and become dependent on opioids to function. If a drug-dependent person does not take opioids, they will experience withdrawal symptoms.
Opioid withdrawal can be so severe that a person is unable to stop taking opioids on their own. This can quickly spiral out of control and lead to addiction, overdose, or death.
What is Addiction?
Addiction is not the same as dependence or tolerance. Drug tolerance is a normal part of taking opioid medication for a long time. Everyone who takes opioids will become tolerant to the effects over time, but not everyone will become addicted.
Addiction is a Disease
Opioid addiction is a disease. It means that a person is unable to function normally without the drug and they will obsessively seek out more of the drug, even when they know it is damaging their relationships, work, finances, and other aspects of life.
Warning Signs of Opioid Addiction
Here are some common signs of opioid abuse, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine:
- Unable to control opioid use
- Uncontrollable cravings for opioids
- Negative effects on relationships or finances
- Changes in sleep habits
- Weight loss
- Frequent flu-like symptoms
- Isolation from family or friends
- Mood swings
- Stealing from friends, family or businesses
- Financial difficulties
Treatment for Opioid Addiction
Treatment for opioid addiction may involve an inpatient rehabilitation facility where doctors can pair support programs with prescription medication such as methadone, buprenorphine or naltrexone. Even with treatment, recovery from opioid addiction can take many years.