In the past, serious drug abuse was an activity associated with poor, inner-city individuals that had little access to education, work, and health care. As the opioid crisis has grown, it has infiltrated into the entire society, with no discrimination as far as who is affects. As a result, people who have never been involved with drugs are directly affected, and communities and the families that live within them are living in fear. This crisis is something we all need to be aware of in order to do our part of minimizing how much further it can reach.
What is the Opioid Crisis and How did it Get So Bad?
The opioid crisis is in reference to the unprecedented number of people who are addicted to opioids. Opioids are drugs that can be both pharmaceutical and street drugs. They are a class of drugs centered around pain relief and include the following drugs:
You’ll notice that this list includes both illegal drugs and prescription drugs. They are chemically related and produce similar effects on the person ingesting them. It might be shocking to hear that a drug as serious and illegal as heroin is closely related to a prescription pill doctors prescribe daily, but it is true, and this is a big part of why so many people are becoming part of the opioid crisis.
To give you an idea of how serious this problem is, 11.5 million people – 5% of the American population – have misused prescription opioids that they got from a source other than their doctor. In other words, they obtained them illegally. 1.9 million people in America have reported being addicted to opioids.
The issue is that many people who are addicted have no history of drug abuse. They also never set out with the intention of getting addicted. Opiates are so powerful that patients who get them prescribed often have no idea what is happening until it is too late. There are countless examples of people who went in for routine procedures, walked out with a prescription, and ended up addicted. The truth is that for many, the opioid crisis begins with an innocent doctor’s visit. Patients go in with the intent of getting better, and instead wind up with a life-threatening addiction.
The Link Between Prescription Pills and Heroin
You may be wondering how heroin gets involved, or how a person makes the jump from pills a doctor prescribed to street drugs. It’s easier than you think. Prescription opioids create a serious addiction. People who don’t get off of them in time end up doctor shopping, which is a practice during which they go to different doctors to get more of the same medicine. This ends up being costly and risky.
Turning to heroin is a comparable alternative because it offers a similar high to drugs you can get at a doctor’s office. Also, it ends up being cheaper and even easier to obtain. You may wonder how on earth it can be easier to obtain, but it is more prevalent than you think. It is at schools, colleges, workplaces, and neighborhoods. You no longer need to go to a scary crack den to get a fix. Instead, it is easily hidden in plain sight since the tremendous need is there. If you know where to look, you will find it.
Heroin and prescription opiates kill. The added danger with heroin is that you are getting it off of the street and you have no idea what the dealer is putting into it. If they lace it with fentanyl, it can easily kill you within seconds. Every time you buy a drug off the street you are playing russian roulette with your life.
The opioid crisis is affecting everyone. Even if you think you and your loved ones aren’t touched, chances are it is closer than you think. It is important to be aware of how easily it can happen to you, your friends, and loved ones, and educate yourself about anything a doctor prescribes to you. Being aware is half the battle, and knowing your body and the dangers of any medication or substance you ingest.
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