I consider myself lucky to have grown up in Laguna Beach. Not only is it absolutely gorgeous there, but I had great friends and family, and can say that I had a good life all around (despite my challenges). From an outsider's point of view, it might be hard to imagine that somewhere like Laguna Beach is struggling with a drug epidemic, but I am here to tell you that without a doubt, this nationwide problem has impacted the place that I call home.
There are two sides to the drug epidemic in Laguna Beach. For starters, this problem is impacting teenagers on a level that it never has before. When I was in high school (which wasn't even 10 years ago), I would use marijuana, alcohol and sometimes dabble in cocaine. These substances were everywhere, and I definitely wasn't the only one using. Today, high schoolers are still using these types of substances, but now prescription drugs and heroin are thrown into the mix.
For example, Dr. Ritter, head of the emergency room at Mission Hospital in Laguna Beach, told The Laguna Beach Independent that high school students are dragging their overdosed friends to the doors of the emergency room and running in the opposite direction in fear of getting caught and going to jail.
But the prescription drug epidemic doesn't just start and end with teenagers, because its impacting adults in the area, too.
According to the LA Times, both Orange County and Santa Clara County are suing five pharmaceutical companies for what is being called a "campaign of deception." The lawsuit is alleging that five of the most powerful drug manufacturers (include Purdue Pharma) have been falsely advertising and marketing the benefits of prescription painkillers to doctors and the public.
This alleged false advertising is what those involved in initiating the lawsuit feel is contributing to the prescription drug epidemic in Orange County and the rest of the country, too. With as much conversation and awareness that is being raised about this growing problem, this recent lawsuit is basically playing tribute to the work that is trying to prevent problems such as these.
I hope people can see that there is a much bigger picture here. If this lawsuit proves this level of negligence on behalf of these pharmaceutical companies, it's truly nothing short of shocking. These major companies already have so much money, but are still seemingly willing to risk the lives of people in both Orange County and The United States for even more money. It's a blood diamond mentality that is boosting the rate of prescription drug abuse here in the OC.
My hope is that should this lawsuit bring about charges to these pharmaceutical companies, that more regulations go into place for doctors as well as the drugs that they prescribe. There has to be strict standards, but those can be difficult to achieve if there are big name companies working against them to turn a dollar.
The bottom line -- what is happening in Laguna Beach and the rest of Orange County is nothing short of scary. To think that within less than a decade, twice as many teenagers and adults are using seriously dangerous drugs like prescription painkillers is just mind-boggling.
Not only am I shocked that so many lives are being destroyed and lost in my hometown as a result of the drug epidemic, but I am also saddened to know that Laguna Beach isn't the only place where this is going on. From coast to coast, the drug epidemic is at an all-time high, and it is up to us to provide education, raise awareness, and stop negligent pharmaceutical companies in their tracks so that we can work to reverse the growth of this problem.