My first experience with hydrocodone was when I herniated my L2/L3 and L4/5 severely enough to break off a piece of a disc. The pain was so severe I set the alarm on my phone to alert me every four hours when the bottle said I could take my next dose. Fortunately I did not get addicted to hydrocodone. Since then I have had four surgeries and for each surgery I was given a prescription of hydrocodone. My doctor didn’t give me a talk about my prescription medicines or inform me of the dangers of addiction. I wasn’t asked if I had taken my prescription or if I had any left with each consequent surgery so I have a stockpile of hydrocodone hidden in a cupboard. I don’t know what to do with my stockpile, but I do know I don’t want it to get in the wrong hands. The hydrocodone prescriptions were handed out like candy. I so easily could have been one of the many Americans addicted to opioids.
As I have read story after story in the news about opioids and the addictions and deaths occurring in the U.S. I’m glad I didn’t take them.
Just last weekend my sister-in-law spoke of the problem in Michigan and of someone she knew that had recently died from opioids.
It truly is of epidemic proportions.
What are opioids?
Opioids are a class of drugs used for pain relief, even anesthesia. Fentanyl. Heroin. Morphine. Tramadone. Percocet. These are all names you are probably familiar with. On the street these drugs go by names like Captain Cody, Schoolboy, Doors & Floors, Hillbilly heroin or Monkey.
David Wilkinson, M.D., former medical director at the Foundry Treatment Center in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, told Teen Vogue, “The drugs change the morphology of your brain’s opioid receptors and interfere with your ability to produce natural opioids,” Dr. Wilkinson says. “Once you replace your … passion with opiates, it hinders your excitement for life and triggers myriad spill over side effects.”
Why are so many dying? Aren’t there treatments easily available?
There are several reasons between the states not having the funding to support programs to A recent article in the NY Times highlights the growing issue:
• We’ve lost more than 300,000 people from opioid overdoses in the last 15 years
• Opioid abuse is partially responsible for the increased number of children in the foster care system
• Many people simply can’t afford the treatment they need for their addiction (no surprise there), and many states don’t have any kind of assistance program to help them.
This stat alone stunned me: “Generations United, estimates that 2.5 million children now live with relatives or family friends rather than their parents.’
Four stories that will illustrate the issues
Watch this Wall Street Journal video to understand just how this is affecting American families. It’s heartbreaking but so important to understand opioid addiction.
What can you do?
Start by understanding the signs of addiction. This article from DrugRehab.org will take you through the 45 signs of addiction from behavioral changes to physical symptoms.
• Ask your doctor about any prescription the write for you. Understand what you are taking.
• Double check with the pharmacist and ask him/her about the prescription.
• Don’t take the medicine if you don’t need it.
• Get educated on opioids. Make sure your kids know the dangers as well.
• If you can afford it consider other options for pain control like physical therapy, acupuncture, biofeedback or even meditation.
Other helpful articles you should read: