Preface: we are confronted today by what has been referred to as “the opioid crisis” in the United States. Most of us know at least one person who has been directly affected by it, and what toll that has taken on society. In this guest post, John Hampton shares his thoughts on the opioid crisis and where we should go from here.
The Dangers of Opioids
By John Hampton, written for Socratic Solutions
For me, the issue of prescription opioids is a particularly personal one. I spent most of my adolescence suffering from joint pain after a sports injury. I was eventually prescribed prescription opioids, and I turned to them.
Many people fail to understand the issue of opioid addiction. Why would anyone choose to use something that is killing them so they can experience a little relief? Sadly, this type of reasoning happens too often.
Opioids are prescribed as a last resort. When a physician needs to manage pain or a certain condition doesn’t respond to other options, prescription opioids are often the last line of defense. However, other researchers have argued strongly against even the most justified opioid prescriptions. They argue that opioid dependence is equivalent to heroin addiction and that doctors should consider other non-opioid treatments.
While many face addiction problems, even elite, professional athletes, actors, and entrepreneurs use prescription opioids. As you can see, these select groups of people have the resources to transition away from addiction. But still, many prominent individuals fall to the spell of opioid addiction.
Unfortunately, our society is not different. Our society is poorly equipped to handle addiction. As an addictions specialist, I have seen this problem repeatedly. There are a multitude of reasons why we don’t make the necessary transition from addiction to non-addiction, but the one underlying reason is the widely held belief that opioids are safe and effective.
Lena Dunham, the famous actress and writer, recently wrote about the effects that opioids are having on her body and struggles to give up them. She shares that her daily opioid usage is detrimental to her mental health and wellbeing.
For example, on that same note, it is devastating to many to learn that the drug claimed by the media as the “miracle drug” of the last 20 years, OxyContin, is actually now the most abused substance in the United States.
According to The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, and a large survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, over 13 million people illegally use oxycodone and become dependent.
This means that some 13 million people who should have an otherwise healthy use of opioids now use them for dependency, which is just going to make the task of managing the behavior exponentially more difficult. This is one reason why we know that drug abuse is a hard problem to treat.
It will take an extraordinary amount of time, money, and energy to help people effectively and safely combat substance abuse. For many of us, this means that we will not fully give up our opioid use but will instead adopt a path that limits the volume of the usage. But we cannot control our own end goal.
Addiction does not wait for us. If someone decides to misuse prescription opioids and they commit suicide, the doctor still gets sued. The result is a universal sense of frustration and disrespect. As a society, we must do better.
In an article posted to an opioid addiction recovery group, Pamela Wood explains that addiction is an issue that we must combat in America. She highlights the fact that a doctor who overprescribes opioids will not only be punished, but will be portrayed as a villain.
It is essential to look at the role that the pharmaceutical industry and doctors have played in introducing the improper use of opioid painkillers. Everyone recognizes that the medical industry needs to fix its blunders, and I agree wholeheartedly.
However, I also firmly believe that there needs to be change on the part of the public, too. The abuses committed by the pharmaceutical industry and doctors must end, but the public needs to be included in the process of finally solving the problem. If there is going to be change in the future, the public has to take the initiative and make their voices heard. Otherwise, we will likely end up feeling more frustrated than ever before.
One compelling solution is kratom: a traditional medicine mainly used in Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia. Kratom has helped users kick their opioid addictions without the overwhelming pain of cold turkey withdrawals. It can also be used as an alternative to opioids for pain management. Kratom strains come with names like “red vein kratom”, “red maeng da”, and “premium red bali”, and each strain may have different properties. If you’d like to learn more about kratom, please visit What is Kratom?.