America's Addiction

It was several years ago, but in my mind the scene could have been yesterday. A friend had been blindsided by a bottle of pills. An overdose. This wasn’t some anonymous person I would read about in tomorrow’s newspaper, but my friend’s daughter. 

Standing on either side of a gurney, our hushed hospital voices pleaded for God’s mercy. We looked past the IV tubes and the machines bleeping their numerical stats and remembered a much younger girl twirling around the living room pretending to be a ballerina.

Driving home from the hospital, I asked myself all the questions I couldn’t ask in the hospital. When had this precious little ballerina become a drug addict and why?

My friend’s daughter hadn’t been smoking pot, snorting cocaine, doing meth, or shooting heroin. She’d been buying prescription drugs from friends of friends. The journey from the emergency room to one treatment center after another was a long one. Getting past the opiate bondage wasn’t easy or cheap. It seemed like her life was a constant rerun of a horrible movie. And it was a movie her whole family had to watch too.

About a decade ago, doctors began writing narcotic prescriptions for moderate pain—the same drugs that were once reserved only for terminal illnesses—when death was close and addiction was no longer a concern.

Now prescription drugs have caused 45% more overdose deaths than all other street drugs combined. 

According to a survey by IMS Health, in 2011, 137 million prescriptions were written for the most popular pain reliever, Vicodin. 

The United States makes up 4.6% of the world’s population, but consumes 99% of the world’s hydrocodone—the opiate that’s in Vicodin.

After the body gets used to Vicodin it becomes ineffective and even stronger pain meds like Oxycontin are used. 

Drugs are basically poisonous. In small amounts they can achieve the pain relief needed, but in high enough doses they can rob us of the ability to think clearly. And that’s the biggest liability—narcotics are mind-altering drugs.

According to recent surveys, 2.4 million people began using “non-prescribed” narcotics last year. Add to this figure the people who have narcotic prescriptions for pain—how many have now spiraled into addiction?  It’s a deep pit.

Narcotics are wrecking havoc in too many lives, but just because someone else takes the drugs doesn't mean we all don't eventually feel the effects. Our nation is facing a major health crisis. For the thousands of families of drug addicts, they're already facing it. 

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