NUMBERS THAT ALWAYS ASTOUND
No matter how many times you look at them, the numbers are still staggering: as of June 2015, a Columbia University study revealed that 40 million Americans, age 12 and older, suffer some sort of addiction, be it nicotine, alcohol or some other drug.1 Drug addiction is also one of the most prolific ailments amongst Americans who aren’t necessarily thought of as addicts, with another 80 million people coined as being “risky substance users” who use drugs on a recreational basis.
These numbers add up to nearly 100 million people, which is roughly a third of America’s population. Add to that fact that since 2010 more Americans have died from drug overdoses than deaths attributed to motor vehicles, homicides, and suicides and you can see how many in the drug prevention community feel addiction is the most pervasive disease in America.
Results such as these point in part to the recent rise in prescription painkiller addictions, and with that, an increase in illicit drug use and overdoses among Americans. Without a doubt, prescription drug addictions have shifted the paradigm of what plagues America.
This is not to deny the fact that many people suffer from serious chronic pain. While many have successfully managed their pain through various forms of prescription pain medicine without becoming addicted, statistics still can’t deny that overdoses due to prescription painkillers remains a looming beast which trounces the numbers belonging to traditional killers of Americans, such as automobile accidents and gun violence. And because entities we once trusted like pharmaceutical companies and the medical profession are firmly entrenched in the distribution of prescription painkillers, and in many cases, to blame for this new American crisis, the words of Captain John Miller from Saving Private Ryan, eerily ring true concerning our country’s emerging opioid addiction: “Things have taken a turn for the surreal.”
It seems that high rates of opioid abuse have become the new norm for America. As news outlets, including those on foreign soil such as the UK’s Daily Mail, depict us as a land of painkiller addicts, it seems we (and the rest of the world) have come to expect doctors to prescribe opioid-based medications for nearly everything we might suffer and big pharmaceutical companies to provide us with a never ending supply.
In the U.S., opioid addiction has become the new way of life, giving it the new stigma of being as American as apple pie in the same way alcohol and cigarettes might have once been.
OPIOID ABUSE: IS IT A FORCE TOO LARGE TO REVOLT AGAINST?
Unless you happen to be in an American history class, the idea of revolt (or revolution) is about as tangible to your life as the American Revolution itself.
And yet, revolution is one of the vehicles that led the U.S. to its freedom.
To that end, it would be very American of us to revolt against big pharmaceutical, and rid ourselves of the addictive dangers of painkillers such as OxyContin, Percocet and Vicodin. Of course, there are methods to battle painkiller abuse and at the same time govern the pharmaceutical companies’ propensity to over-supply opioid-based painkillers. These are:
- Follow the instructions: Find out exactly what your painkiller is prescribed for. Don’t hesitate to ask this of your doctor. People who take painkiller medicine exactly as directed, stand a much smaller chance of addiction than those who frivolously use painkillers.
- Once your painkiller dosage is finished, so are you: Continue to remind yourself that these painkillers prescribed to you is of medicinal value only, and should be used, then ended according to the prescription.
- Ask your doctor if painkillers are absolutely necessary: Do you really need painkillers to begin with? Can your pain be managed through more natural and/or traditional methods such as aspirin, stretching, heating pads and ice? Find out for your own peace of mind as you attempt to limit your exposure to much stronger and addictive substances.
It’s your body. You should have a say in what type of treatment you are given. Stand up to your doctor and make a case for yourself for not taking opioid-based medication.
OUR PERSONAL HOMELAND DEFENSE
While your hesitancy to take prescription painkillers might seem like you’re battling your doctor’s best judgment, but at the same time, you need to be vigilant. And even though a recent STAT-Harvard poll2 showed 1 in 3 Americans blame doctors for the national opioid epidemic, this statistic can be completely within your control by simply understanding the addictive properties of painkillers.
If you don’t already know the dangers of prescription painkillers, do some research, and with that, protect yourself. With the propensity of American healthcare industry to over-prescribe opioid painkillers, it is a very good idea to be protective of your homeland, which in this case is your body, as well as your mental and emotional state.
THE AMERICAN PIE SYNDROME
It’s sad but true. Whereas iconic representations of our country, such as big V8-powered cars, houses in the suburbs and baseball bats and gloves can still represent the apple pie qualities of America, prescription drug addiction is slowly creeping into the deep, inner-workings of our culture.
When the before-mentioned Daily Mail uncovers one of the most unflattering aspects of our culture, which is that Americans consume 80% of the world’s painkillers3, we immediately realize we are not recognized for our best qualities, but are instead seen for our most vulnerable and saddest affliction.
Ultimately the decision to use prescription painkillers, and the resulting risk of addiction, is up to us. Sure, some could say refusing these drugs, or looking for alternative treatments, can be a revolt, but this revolt is at least one to preserve our overall health and freedom from addiction.
And honestly, what can be more apple pie in America than our health and freedom?
If you or a loved one have an addiction to alcohol, contact BLVD Treatment Centers. At BLVD Treatment Centers we custom tailor our recovery programs within the safe and nurturing confines of our rehab treatment centers. Located throughout California, in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego and in Portland, OR, our mission is to assess the severity of your addiction to help you achieve true recovery within 30 days. Call us now at 1-866.582.9844.
- A Blind Eye to Addiction, US News & World Report. Retrieved May 25, 2016.
- 1 in 3 Americans blame doctors for national opioid epidemic, STAT-Harvard poll finds, STAT. Retrieved May 25, 2016.
- Americans consume EIGHTY percent of the world’s pain pills…, Daily Mail. Retrieved May 25, 2016.