Opioids Across America: Solutions to a Multifaceted Problem are Needed

Opioid
Photo Credit: Flickr/CC BY 2.0

America’s opioid crisis necessitates daily updates: The coast-to-coast reality is multi-faceted and hard to grasp. Headlines have reported on the phenomenon of relatives and acquaintances, including medical professionals, stealing the opioid medications of family members, neighbors and clients, even pets. It’s almost a certainty that someone, or several people, in your vicinity is/are high on drugs.

On Monday, August 21, 2017, New Yorker magazine presented evidence of everyday people collapsing from opioids at work, in public locations such as gas stations, shops and public restrooms in Virginia and elsewhere. This excerpt presents the devastation “ … Peter Callahan, a psychotherapist in Martinsburg, said that heroin ‘is a very tough drug to get off of, because, while it was meant to numb physical pain, it numbs emotional pain as well—quickly and intensely.’” The publication had previously reported on the worsening problem back in 2014, with an article titled Prescription for Disaster. A more recent The Addicts Next Door article on June 5, 2017 cited West Virginia as having “ the highest overdose death rate in the country. Locals are fighting to save their neighbors—and their towns—from destruction.”

Fox News recently reported on an Indiana teen high on opiates who killed two children cuddled in front of their family’s television when she crashed through their home in her out-of-control vehicle.  The Daily Caller reported on August 19 2017 about a dog that dug up heroin, buried in an Oregon yard by someone outside the family which owned it. This line appeared in the news report: “Oregon is struggling with opioid abuse and death, particularly from synthetic opioids like fentanyl, a painkiller roughly 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine.”

MEDPAGEToday, a publication for medical and medical professionals, reported on August 13, 2017 that “…Deaths associated with opioid overdoses in hospital intensive care units nearly doubled over a seven-year period from 2009 and 2015, and the costs of treating overdose victims in the ICU has skyrocketed, researchers report.

“The average cost of caring for an opioid overdose patient in the ICU increased by 58% from $58,500 to $92,400, according to a retrospective analysis of hospital billing records from 162 hospitals in 44 states. Admissions to ICUs linked to opioid overdoses increased by 34% at the hospitals from January of 2009 to September 2015, according to the analysis appearing online in Annals of the American Thoracic Society. Lead researcher Jennifer P. Stevens, MD, of Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, said the study is among the first to quantify the impact of the opioid epidemic on the nation’s ICUs. She said the findings highlight a ‘new level of crisis’ associated with overdoses of prescription and illicit opioids…”

In short, an incalculable number of Americans are high, numbing their emotions and unable to function productively because they failed to develop the skills for dealing with stress. That lack of character development is killing addicts, harming their defenseless victims and using up excessive medical resources.

This Proposed Safe Injection Sites article, quoting legal and medical professionals no less, misses the point. People need to grow up, to be able to handle stress, not to curl up and die on drugs in designated hygienic spaces that facilitate arrested maturity. As indicated in the article, the only problems that an SIS can prevent are deaths or infections. Safe Facilities don’t promote recoveries from, nor preventions of, life-threatening emotional immaturity or drug addiction.

While America is divided between protesting or protecting the current president’s election, debating whether or not there are more than two genders, and wondering if the recent solar eclipse portended some sort of physical or spiritual disaster, priorities are being misplaced. Political concerns regarding North Korea, Afghanistan and the Middle East call for clear-minded thinking, not for being spaced out. Drug-addled voters can’t think clearly to protect their lives, or those of their dependents. Day-to-day tasks are being mishandled. Childhoods and other lives are being compromised in ways that are harmful over the long term. Jobs are being lost due to the inability to perform the most basic tasks. Families and society are being damaged as parents die and children are left in the care of elderly or drug-abusing relatives unable to adequately care for them. The USA is out of optimal care options as the number of drug-orphaned children with dismal futures rises.

If you or someone you know needs help to end an addiction, online and in-office therapists are prepared to foster success with that goal. Local mental health agencies can refer callers to competent practitioners willing to work 1:1 on that project. They’re waiting for your call.