Community View: Opioid addiction isn’t just a ‘drug addict’ problem

Twenty years ago I sent a letter to the editor, while living in Washington state. My then 10-year-old granddaughter had been given a prescription by her dentist for Oxycodone. Mind you, she only had a teeth cleaning that day. I mentioned to the editor at the time that I had some deep concerns about how frequently this hardcore, schedule-3 drug was being given out – not only by doctors, but the dentists as well.

As we all know, after this drug became a favorite of many of the drug addicts, they did something to the tablets so they could no longer be liquified and injected. They became very expensive, and much harder to get. Lo and behold, heroin was much cheaper to use, and now even easier to get. Over the next 15-20 years, the number of heroin addicts increased, all over the country.

In the mean time, the opiates were going strong. Hospitals, doctors and dentists continued to prescribe this dangerously habit-forming drug, over and over again.

No matter whether it was a doctor visit, a trip to the emergency room or any other kind of dental or medical procedure. You were very likely to get a prescription for opiates. If at your next doctor or dental visit, you are still having pain, no problem. It only takes a very short time to become addicted.

But wait, you are still having pain you say? How do you know that? You are taking pain medication three to four times a day for maybe a month by this time. This little story is more common than you can imagine.

We have many people, even here in Kingman, who live with the delusion that they are not drug addicts.

They had knee surgery, or back surgery, or were diagnosed with some kind of arthritis. So what if it was over 10 years ago. Don’t you know they are in pain all the time? Perhaps they truly are, and maybe not. If you are taking pain pills every single day, and have done so for more than 10 years, who is to say whether or not it is something you continue to need this treatment for?

In my small circle, I know of at least three people who are in this condition. They have been taking these doctor prescribed medications for pain for at least a decade and some twice that long. Many years ago when it all began, nobody paid attention. The drug companies were making a fortune as were the doctors who these patients continued to come back to over and over again. They needed the drugs.

Does anyone still wonder why we have an opiate epidemic in this country? Do you think all the over doses are suicides? Many of these users are now elderly and often cannot remember whether or not they took their pain pills today. So, maybe they take them again, just in case.

There are many drugs out there that are safer, cheaper, and are used to control severe pain. But then again, our society is accustomed to no pain. If anything hurts, take a pill. No matter how addictive it might be.

And you will surely get a prescription for it.

Gee whiz. How did this opiate epidemic happen?