County in Crisis (Part 1)
The Opioid Epidemic
(Editors Note: This is part one of our investigative journalism series focusing on the growing opioid crisis across America and the effect on the county)
By Luke Boze
In 2015, opioids killed 33,000 people across the United States. It is a crisis that people aren’t aware of until its to late. It starts with doctors over prescribing them, and people using them without proper consultation. They do not use them inappropriately on purpose; they just don’t know that what they are taking are highly addictive narcotics.
Opioids are narcotic level painkillers that are prescribed when over the counter drugs aren’t working. They are used for extreme pain in patients that have had an injury or surgery. Over the past decade, doctors have been prescribing them more and more even though the known risk of addiction is very high among patients. For many patients, their bodies becomes accustomed to the drugs, and before they even realize it, they can’t stop.
With the amount of opioid abuse that has been going on across the country, more laws have come into place to cut down on the amount of opioids being prescribed. However, cutting down on the prescription has also driven opioid addicts to heroin. Heroin is an illegal drug that comes from the opioid morphine. It is just as addictive as opioids and has the same effect. Getting off of heroin is extremely hard because the only way to get of of heroin is to take methadone (another opioid) and slowly ween yourself off of it.
The worst part of opioid and heroin addictions is that it can occur in people that have no history of drug abuse. It can start as an injury during sports or a work place accident, and the only effective way to prevent opioid addictions is community awareness. If people are aware of the risks, they have a better chance at avoiding the addiction. Letting your school and community know about the risks can make a real impact in the lives of so many people. Just think how may lives you are saving when you tell your friends and family about the risks of opioids.