The abuse of and addiction to opioids such as heroin, morphine, and prescription pain relievers is a serious global problem that affects the health, social, and economic welfare of all societies. It is estimated that between 26.4 million and 36 million people abuse opioids worldwide, with an estimated 2.1 million people in the United States suffering from substance use disorders related to prescription opioid pain relievers in 2012 and an estimated 467,000 addicted to heroin. The consequences of this abuse have been devastating and are on the rise. For example, the number of unintentional overdose deaths from prescription pain relievers has soared in the United States, more than quadrupling since 1999. There is also growing evidence to suggest a relationship between increased non-medical use of opioid analgesics and heroin abuse in the United States.
Why does the addict continue this behavior?
Why do we continue to engage in a behavior that we know is killing us and ruining our relationships with those we love?
The answers will come in later blogs. I want to shed just a glimpse of light on the pain of addiction. In future blogs I will attempt to address the stigma that comes with addiction.
We are at an interesting point in our country’s history when it comes to addiction. We see and hear all over the news that there is an opioid epidemic in this country. Many well-meaning people are crying out that we need to do something about it.
All you need to do is look up the CDC’s current reports on opioid addiction in this country, and you will see alarming numbers of overdose and deaths as it relates to these powerful drugs.
And at the same time, we live in a culture where those who are not suffering from this disease, or are yet seemingly unaffected by it, are yelling back, “stay out of my backyard! Don’t bring that trash anywhere near me.Go get treatment but don’t do it anywhere near me. I’m sick of watching these junkies hang around at the highway exit or in the downtown area where I like to sit and have my coffee!”
What they don’t understand is that they are in fact, already being affected. And the chances are, they will have a loved one who falls prey to this dehumanizing experience.