This is not a funny post. But it’s important. I have two friends whose children recently overdosed on heroin. I have another two friends with a son and niece, both top high-school students who injured themselves during school sponsored sporting events who are now addicted to painkillers. What one friend shared with me, is that it’s not so much that the painkillers make them feel good as you might think. It’s that when they stop taking them, they fall into such a deep dark depression, that they have to continue to take them to feel normal.
So, how are prescription drugs and heroin addiction related? Several reports have shown that when the prescription drug addict can no longer get any pills from their doctor, it’s cheaper to buy a related drug (heroin, another opiate) on the street. Either way. These prescription drugs are killing our kids. “Accidental overdose”, is a term you’ll hear more and more lately.
Sadly, self-interest and profit often come before what is best for our society and our kids. How can these doctors hand out Vicodin, Oxycontin and other opiates to our 17 and 18 year old kids without even blinking about the possible consequences? I keep thinking about a car accident I had when I was badly injured and on crutches for weeks while still working normal hours. Because of the trauma, my immune system was shot, and I kept getting sick. At the doctors, with a terrible bout of bronchitis, I started sobbing. Mind you, I wasn’t even sad – just exhausted as I hadn’t slept due to the coughing and again, was continuing to work hard which is my nature. Immediately the prescription pad came out and more than one anti-depressant in addition to the cough syrup and antibiotic were prescribed. When I asked what the other two prescriptions were and was told they were anti-depressants, I was floored. Needless to say, I declined the two big drug company add-ons. Similarly, I’m picturing these kids in pain, injured during a football game, or a cheer leading accident – like sitting ducks in their doctors’ offices – vulnerable and tired, just doing as they’re told and taking whatever is prescribed to them without any idea that weeks into their treatment, they may very well be addicted to pills.
People may of course take heroin without first being exposed to what is some call “heroin lite” (opiate painkillers). But either way, the trend is frightening. According to the National Institute of Health, from 2001 to 2013, there was a 5-fold increase in the total number of heroin overdose deaths. FIVE FOLD!
We can, together, tell our doctors not to prescribe opiate painkillers to our children and young adults. Sometimes pain happens and a little over-the-counter medication may just do the trick. I’m hoping that some sort of legislation may also do the trick. Before it happens to you or someone you love, write your government representative and let them know how you feel about doctors prescribing opiates to young adults and children.