You may be surprised at how many people are completely unaware that they have a prescription drug addiction problem in their family or among their friends. Are you one of those people?
Given that there are about 260 million prescriptions written for highly addictive opioid painkillers every year – enough to keep the entire adult population of the U.S. drugged for a month – you can imagine how many people are using prescription painkillers.
There’s something kind of creepy about encouraging a drugged world. But that’s exactly what it seems like Hilary Clinton is doing with her new $10 billion drug and alcohol addiction proposal.
“It’s time we recognize that there are gaps in our health care system that allow too many to go without care — and invest in treatment. It’s time we recognize that our state and federal prisons, where 65 percent of inmates meet medical criteria for substance use disorders, are no substitute for proper treatment — and reform our criminal justice system,” Clinton wrote in an oped published in Union Leader.
Heroin abuse is much more common that it used to be, says a Penn State study. And who takes it is also completely different. Heroin used to be associated with dark and dirty alleys, floors full of mattresses, used needles, and garbage. But thanks to prescription painkillers, that’s all changed.
Not to say there aren’t still dark alleys, mattresses, needles and garbage, but the average heroin user today is more likely to be someone who used to be on painkillers – often for a legitimate reason like surgery, dental work, broken bones, and so on – but had trouble getting them.
They started with OxyContin, hydromorphone, Percocet, Vicodin, Opana, or any of 50 or more other prescription narcotics, then got addicted. So despite no longer needing them for the original purpose, they now needed them more than ever. But the doctor that was handing out the prescriptions is no longer doing so.
I recently read an article entitled “Opiate overdoses fall after debut of abuse-resistant OxyContin”. This headline sound a lot safer, right? In fact, it could have been written for just that purpose—to promote the drug and make the manufacturer (Purdue) look good. But don’t get feeling too comfortable about taking OxyContin quite yet. Let’s have a look at the real statistics, also in the article, and you’ll see how misleading that headline really is.
First of all, here’s what the surgeon had to say:
“Not the first drug epidemic to sweep the nation, this one is decidedly different. The nearly 3 million people addicted to opioids don’t fit the “junkie” trope society perpetuates. They are not living in poverty or committing criminal acts. They are white-collar Americans with high-power jobs, picket fences, and clean records. They’re coworkers, neighbors, and friends who—unbeknownst to most among them—are living with a dark secret. “
Seems we’ve gone full circle. One of the big fears of using needles for drugs like heroin and meth was the possibility of getting HIV (and AIDS). Now Indiana’s looking at an HIV outbreak that’s nothing short of epidemic. And what’s causing it? Instead of heroin or meth, it’s being cause by injecting Opana ( oxymorphone hydrochloride), a prescription painkiller similar to OxyContin but more powerful. And people are shooting it up!
I am writing in regard to two letters to the editor written in response to Tom Synan’s column “Why care about another addict?” (Dec. 3).
If someone you know is taking prescription painkillers – be aware of what can happen to them. I recently read a news story about a young many who was was suffering from OxyContin addiction – not because he was doing the drugs to get high, but because he was in a car accident that required several surgeries.