Don’t Deny The Danger

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My roommate and I watch the nightly news during dinner at least three or four days a week. It’s a lot easier than having to hunt down articles online. This past week there were at least three different stories about local opioid overdoses. My roommate said that she sees a lot written about it online, too.


I remember my dad talking about people taking too many prescription painkillers over the holidays. I hadn’t put the two together until recently, when my roommate said the two are essentially the same thing. How often are doctors prescribing opioids, now that it’s making headlines multiple times a week? I’m struggling to understand that. How far-reaching is the problem?


Experts estimated only a few years ago that one out of every three Americans were legitimately prescribed an opioid painkiller like OxyContin or Percocet. Whether or not things have progressed or deteriorated further isn’t really up for debate. The most recent report from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) claims more than 90 Americans die every day due to opioid overdose. That’s why the opioid crisis is making its way into local, national, and international media outlets. The concern and confusion are only growing by the day.


Outsiders without any experience with opioids can easily overlook certain things such as not realizing that an illicit drug like heroin was an opioid similar to the commonly prescribed Percocet. There is no discernible difference between the two for a drug abuser, which is one of the major reasons opioid addiction is to difficult to treat. Addicts become singularly fixated on obtaining the substance because of a neurochemical dependency.


Fortunately, there’s an army of people devoted to averting the opioid epidemic. Medical practitioners already rely on proven treatments to help drug abusers wane off of opioids. However, there are some critics who debate the value of simply substituting one opioid for another albeit in a supervised medical setting. Those in agreement tend to look for alternative treatment approaches.


Believe it or not, there’s a growing body of evidence being published supporting the use of medicinal marijuana to treat opioid addiction. That doesn’t necessarily mean that patients will be smoking joints just to avoid a hypodermic needle. The key to understanding the value is understanding the difference between THC and CBD. The former is the chemical compound responsible for the psychoactive effects most commonly associated with smoking weed. CBD, on the other hand, has a whole host of positive side effects (e.g., pain relief, stimulated appetite, etc.) without getting the user high.


Regardless of your stance, almost everyone can agree that drug abusers should be given options that work. Every addict is different and, as a result, treatment and recovery can be impossible to predict with any real accuracy. In other words, don’t expect to see changing headlines anytime soon. Addiction can sometimes take years to overcome. Given how widespread the crisis has proliferated, it might be a decade before we begin to see tangible improvements across the whole country.


“Remember that just because you hit bottom doesn’t mean you have to stay there.” — Robert Downey, Jr.