The use of opioid analgesics such morphine, prescription pain relievers, and heroin, is on the rise globally. This issue has reached epidemic levels in the United States. We now know that there are more people are dying in our country from opioid overdose than from gunshot wounds or automobile accidents. At this time and point in our culture, it is very likely that you know someone who is misusing opioid substances. Per the most recent CDC statistical analysis on opioid misuse, 12 million Americans (ages 12 or older) reported nonmedical use of painkillers within the last year. This analysis also revealed that enough painkillers were prescribed to medicate every American adult around the clock for one month. What did this result in? 100 Americans were dying every day from opioid overdose. Between the years of 1992 and 2002, the number of opioid analgesic poisonings on death certificates increased 91.2%, compared to cocaine poisonings increasing 12.4% to 22.8% respectively (2006). Many people in this country start off abusing prescription painkillers preceding heroin abuse. If a person begins to show signs of opioid misuse or abuse in a medical office, the physician may remove the painkiller script from the patient. If the patient does not have proper support services in place, some turn towards trying to find prescription painkillers through “black market” services either online, or through connections of other opioid abusers. This has resulted in us now seeing a spike in the sales and use of heroin. Why is this? Heroin is much cheaper and more accessible on the black market. Let’s say a person can get more bang for their buck when they purchase heroin. Users of these drugs have found that prescription painkiller cost has become too much of a strain, so they turn to heroin. Thus, this epidemic has creeped into all our neighborhoods. It knows no socioeconomic, class, or cultural boundaries. This epidemic is here and very real. It is important for us to work as a community, and put our best foot forward in the advancement of treatment for those suffering from this perilous disease.
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.