August 23, 2017

Opiate Abuse

[frame align=”left”]Opiate Abuse[/frame]Opiate abuse is one of the most prevalent drug problems in the world today.  Opiate abuse does not discriminate between socio-economic classes, race, religion or age.  There is no “one type” of person who can become susceptible to opiate abuse.  Individuals who abuse opiates are mothers, fathers, and grandmothers, schoolchildren, homeless, wealthy and imprisoned.  There are some who graduate from alcohol and marijuana to heroin, and there are others who have never taken a sip of alcohol in their lives, and who have never taken an “illegal” drug.  Opiate abuse can occur in a nursing home, a hospital, a church, and in the house right next door.

One of the reasons opiate abuse is so prevalent is the fact that there are many individuals who abuse opiates without even realizing it.  In the case of prescription medication, this is profound.  An otherwise healthy individual may find himself in a car accident, for instance, and must spend a month or so in the hospital.  During the inpatient stay, he is provided with regular, properly prescribed and professionally administered opiate pain medication.  When he leaves the hospital, he is provided with a legal prescription for opiate pain medication, which he takes according to the directions.  However, the pain he experiences may increase rather than decrease.  Each time the pain medication metabolizes out of his system, he finds that the pain is worse than before he took the dose.  He may, or may not, self-administer a higher dose of the legally prescribed medication – with every intention of talking to his doctor on the next visit.  The doctor may increase the pain medication prescription, in either frequency or dosage.

This is the cycle that many Americans find themselves in when they are provided with opiate pain medication.  Some individuals have no problems with the drugs and once they have recovered from their illness or injury, they carry on with their pre-opiate life without incident.  However, for many others, this innocent cycle of pain, medication, increased pain, and more medication becomes a dependency they do not even recognize.  In their minds, they have a chronic condition that must be treated routinely through the use of opiate pain medication.  They are simply managing their pain, without realizing that much of the pain they are experiences is opiate induced.

On the other side of the issue, as well, are the individuals who take prescription opiate pain medication for non-medical reasons.  They know they are not in physical pain, although many will try to convince themselves they are.  They take the opiates for the euphoria that comes with the physical interaction in the pleasure centers of the human brain.  They are the spouses or children of individuals who receive opiate pain medication for legitimate ailments, who themselves may be dependent upon and abuse their prescriptions.

For instance, the wife of the man who suffered in the car accident may be at risk.  She has been handling everything by herself for weeks.  The children, work, taking care of her husband who is still bedridden, have taken their toll on her physically and emotionally.  Her backaches and she is under a considerable stress from every corner of her life.  She crawls into bed, slowly, and either she, or her husband, suggests she take one of the opiate painkillers – to take the edge off so she can sleep.

This first pill is opiate abuse, for the simple reason that she does not have a prescription for the medication.  This is also the first step to taking yet another pill the following night.  She is a dedicated mother, employee, and member of the PTA.  She chaperones elementary school field trips.  She attends church every Sunday morning without fail.  In addition, she takes an opiate painkiller every night – to take the edge of so she can sleep.

It is a common story that occurs throughout all occupations in this country.  Unfortunately, the very nature of opiate abuse comes from the tolerance that the body develops.  Soon, neither this injured man nor his overworked wife will be satisfied with the effects of the opiate medication.  She may find herself visiting her doctor because of the pain in her joints and her back.  She may fill her own opiate pain medication prescription.

With two regular abusers of opiates in the home, how long will it be before one of their children find the medication and try it – just to see what it’s like.  Worse, one of their friends, whose parents are in the same position for different reasons, suggests that they should look for specific medication in their parent’s room.

Opiate abuse is not about a heroin addict on the other side of the tracks.  Opiate abuse happens in homes all over the country.  However, there is hope for this family.  Responsible use of prescriptions and common precautions, like locking up medications, destroying left over tablets, and keeping a record of medication consumed, can keep proper use of medication from becoming opiate abuse.