Talk of the opioid epidemic is all over the news, in the newspapers, and on the internet. The problem is that there are so many myths circulating that it’s hard to decipher what is the truth. Fixing a problem that few understand is difficult. The reality is that one person dies every 13 minutes from an opioid overdose, and something must be done as the problem is out of hand. Here are some common myths and the truths behind them.
Myth 1: The Opioid Epidemic Is All Hype – People Have Always Died From Drug Use
There is much truth in the statement that people have been dying from drug overdoses for decades. The problem is that the opioid crisis is different than addictions in times past because the deaths are more widespread. Currently, it’s estimated that there are more than 4.5 million people in this country that have an addiction to opioids, and most of those people are using illegal prescription medications. Not only is the person with the addiction affected, but it affects families, friends, employers, and the entire community. The justice system must pay more than $7 billion a year because of drug addiction as the incarceration and rehabilitation are expensive.
Myth 2: If a doctor prescribes medications then it must besafe
Opioid drugs are an excellent choice for a short-term pain condition, but just because a doctor prescribes them doesn’t mean they are 100 percent safe. Unfortunately, they are highly addictive. They are just as addictive as sleeping pills, barbiturates or benzodiazepines. It’s possible to become hooked by taking opioids for just a few days. The potency is not something that should be taken lightly.
Myth 3: Most opioid abuse happens in big cities like NYC or Los Angeles
It’s true that the bigger cities have a huge problem because of the number of people that live in the locale. However, it’s also a significant problem in rural areas too. The CDC states that in 2016, per 100,000 people, West Virginia had 52 deaths from opioid abuse, Ohio had 39, and Pennsylvania had 37. That same year, NYC and all it’s boroughs showed 1,374 deaths.
Myth 4: People on opioids are already addicts – it won’t affect those close
The opioid crisis is closer to home than many people imagine. Overdoses occur in every ethnic group and within every income level. It can happen to a lawyer after surgery or traumatic accident, or it can happen to a teenager who is experimenting with recreational drug use. No one is immune to this disease.
Myth 5: Addicts have no willpower
Even the strongest person is powerless under the influence of opioids. Being addicted to these drugs is a chronic condition that needs professional treatment. Having this disease is no different than having diabetes or high blood pressure.
The opioid crisis has reached epic proportions. Something must be done to save these people. Better mental health care and better awareness of the truthful aspects of the disease is an excellent place to start.