Maybe it has already happened; the unimaginable instance where you realize someone you love is addicted to and actively using opioids. Maybe you found out because they overdosed, the rudest awakening there is. Or, maybe your money has gone missing and you’ve realized that it was going to your local drug dealer. Or, maybe they’ve come to you for help, realizing the situation has spiraled out of control.
No matter what transpired, this is a wake-up call that thousands of Americans are dealing with every day. And, if this sounds like a foreign world to you, don’t be naive. It can happen to anyone, and it is happening daily. No matter how perfect your world is, opiates are always lurking around the corner.
The Opioid Crisis is Affecting Everyone
America has the highest incidence of Opioid addiction and abuse in the world and this sobering statistic reflects in the most unlikely of people; young mothers, successful business men, star collegiate athletes, and the sweet grandmother down the street no one seems to be immune.
“This crisis is so widespread that no one is immune. We have seen numerous families destroyed by opiates, and it shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon” said Hassey Parsons, one of the leading founders of Asheville Recovery Center.
For many people, this addiction begins at the doctor’s office. They go in for a simple procedure like a tooth removal or minor surgery and get a script for an Opioid like Vicodin or Percocet. They start taking the pills as prescribed, and quickly get hooked on the pleasant side effects of the drugs. Besides being pain free, they’ll experience:
● Mild euphoria
● A sense of peace and calm
● Like there is no care in the world
When their script runs out, they’ll experience discomfort, anxiety, and a host of other issues. They may ask their doctor for more medication, and sadly many doctors will write a new script. People need more and more of the same dose in order to keep feeling the effects, so they are likely to be taking more than prescribed.
Many times, people end up bouncing around from doctor to doctor complaining of pain symptoms in order to get the drugs they now need so badly. This is called “doctor shopping”. When doctor options run out, they turn to the streets.
Heroin is the next easiest alternative and and good number of Heroin addicts are Prescription Opioid addicts who have run out on their doctor shopping spree and need to maintain the high.
Danny Dillow a business developer working with Ashville reveals a sad fact about the availability of heroin to seekers;
“Heroin is often cheaper and easier to get than prescription opioids, making this crisis even scarier. And believe me when I say, heroin can be found anywhere from your kid’s school parking lot, to behind your local gas station or convenience store” That Heroin today is so easy to find, makes it even scarier and it is immensely dangerous because it carries major risks every time you use.
When you buy drugs off of the street, you never know what you are getting. Often, Fentanyl is mixed in with heroin. This is the same drug that is responsible for a lot of overdose deaths, including the one that allegedly played a part in the death of Pop Superstar, Michael Jackson. Just one hit can lead to an overdose, and unless Narcan and first aid is administered immediately, overdose is likely to lead to death.
People who become addicted to opiates become slaves to the drug. Activities that were once enjoyed become a thing of the past. Relationships become secondary and fall to the wayside. These individuals find themselves unable to love others because their only love and interest is in finding their next high. Even when they don’t want to use, they do, and the cycle continues until something major happens, like getting into a treatment center, or worse - death.
You Are Not Immune
if you think this can’t happen to you or someone you love? Think again. Opioids are a force to be reckoned with and can be legally prescribed by doctors in most countries as a pain reliever. There are so many people out there who have had their lives destroyed because of the Opioid crisis. From a mother who lost her star football player son, to the newlywed dealing with her husband’s addiction; it happens everywhere you look. And, these people are upper/middle class individuals who are successful and just never saw this happening to them.
Statistically speaking, the numbers do not lie. According to data compiled by The New York Times, 2016 drug overdose deaths in the U.S. alone were close to 60,000. That is a 19% raise from the year before, and 2017 is looking like it is going to be even worse. Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death in people under 50 years of age.
What You Can Do
If you or someone you know is addicted to opioids, get help. It is close to impossible to get clean on your own and statistics have further shown that the chances of addiction relapse are higher than those for any other drug addiction, with one study reporting that as many as 91% of those in recovery will experience a relapse. The study also found that at least 59% of those who had an opiate relapse would do so within the first week of sobriety, and 80% would relapse within a month after discharging from a detox program.
Research has identified a lot of reasons for this rampant relapses and chief among them is the absence of the right kind of environment and people before and after the program. In the words of Shamus O. Smith, Clinical Director at Ashville Recovery Centre
“The deeper issue of the addiction is beyond the Physical and the Chemistry, it is also Emotional, Spiritual and Mental and until it is dealt with from these points, it may never be really dealt with” He insists that recovery care givers should learn that model as applied in Ashville to add permanence to their results.
Getting clean from opiates is no walk in the park, but it can happen and there is hope.
To prevent opiates from affecting your life, make sure you are informed. Every time a doctor prescribes something, educate yourself on what you are putting into your body. Unfortunately, your own doctor does not always know best.
There is awareness in our government and this issue is in the spotlight. Sadly, it has been for a few years and the tides haven’t shifted. Hopefully, we can continue to empower ourselves with knowledge on an individual basis and help the people who need it. Only then will be able to see the tidal wave destruction of the Opioid crisis go back out to sea.