Opioid Outrage


Emma Zorner, Staff Writer

You’ve heard of it everywhere. On the news, on the radio, at the dinner table, but the opioid epidemic is still an unanswered question on your mind. What is an opioid anyway?

The true definition of an opioid is: a substance that alleviates pain by acting on the nervous system and releasing signals that tell the body to slow down, producing a calming effect. It is essentially a powerful painkiller. Opioids are not drugs sold over-the-counter, like Advil, but are most often found as prescriptions, as well as, sometimes being sold on the street. People with severe pain, those who have just come out of surgery, are typically put on an opioid, like Oxycodone (referred to as Oxy) and take a small amount for limited time, or until their pain is greatly reduced. The problem is that opioids are taken less for their intended purpose and more for the pain relieving effect many people are craving, even for mild pain.

Everyday more and more citizens are getting their hands on drugs that are supposed to be taken with caution, as they can easily become addicting, people are failing to understand the facts and statistics that come with opioid use. In every 24 hours, 91 Americans die from overdose, every week 637 Americans die from overdose, every month there are 2,548 deaths and every year there are 30,576 deaths due to opioid misuse. These whopping numbers go unnoticed by all of the people still using.  

Unfortunately, this issue is not that easy to resolve. Many losses are due to prescription overdoses, as this epidemic can not only be attributed to street vendors. For only mild or chronic pain, some doctors prescribe powerful medication that may reduce pain for a few hours, but could lead to a lifetime of addiction. If an overdose occurs, this could lead to death. Many find accessibility to these painkillers is simple and because of this, almost half of opioid related deaths are due to overdosing on a prescription.

Although it is known how some people find ways to seek out the drug, it is still an insane amount of opioids that are being sold today. This medication is gaining more and more use as time goes on, and the number of opioid prescriptions sold since 1999 has increased four times, but there is no U.S. citizen records of an increase in pain during the past eighteen years.

Some may wonder why opioids are still available as a prescription, but ending the production of opioid Rx will take away this vital medication for people who are in severe pain. At NKHS, our Drug and Substance Abuse Counselor, Mrs. Finlay, talks about their availability. She says, “The best experts to answer this question would be the doctor’s prescribing them or even people selling/giving the drug illegally.  Therefore, is a lot that goes into this answer.  One consideration to this answer is how people deal with pain, and recovery time needed.  We do know that over time too many pills have been prescribed  and it has contributed to the opioid epidemic.  However, this is not the only reason that this is a crisis.” Opioids have also become a very important part of modern medicine. Without continuing to explore effects, uses and characteristics of this drug, new ideas and cures could go undiscovered.

As awful as the deaths and continued misuse of opioids are, there is also the aspect of new science being conducted because of these drugs. To prevent as many deaths as can be done involving opioids, we must consider that before wishing to end the world of prescription opioids, think of the lives also saved because of them.