*Post by Straight Up team member, Evan Proffer.
Last week I attended an important community event. Ventura County Behavioral Health put on the Opiate Solutions Summit and I must say, it was certainly a privilege to attend. Sam Quinones and Danny Trejo gave keynote talks that beautifully illustrated the quiet epidemic that opiate abuse has become. Drug overdose has become the leading cause of accidental death in the US, Accounting for 52,404 lives in 2015. Over half of that statistic comes directly from prescription painkiller overdose (20,101) and heroin overdose (12,990). Why has this spiraled so far out of control?
According to Sam Quinones, author of “Dream Land: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic”, a large part of this has come from the modern pharmaceutical industry and the immense pressure it has put on doctors. The gross oversimplification of this is that patients tend to hold doctors accountable for their pain; and marketing from the pharmaceutical industry enforces the perception that doctors should be able to just prescribe a pill to protect us from otherwise normal/manageable side effects. Many of our opiate issues can be traced back to the over prescription of narcotic painkillers. For example, it’s not all that uncommon to be prescribed one to two weeks worth of Vicodin for an otherwise simple procedure such as wisdom teeth removal.
This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t take painkillers, but rather to honestly gauge how much we need to take in order to get ourselves back to being functional.
Fortunately, opiate issues are starting to get the public’s attention and it is becoming more socially acceptable to talk about addiction. While this issue certainly won’t resolve itself over night, we can all do our own little part to mitigate its effect on ourselves and our families. Use only what you need, and properly dispose of the rest. Urge friends and family to use the Rx disposal bins to prevent abuse on supply side. — Never share your Rx painkillers (disposal sites here).
Be safe and best wishes,