Charlotte had grown up snowmobiling. One day as she flew over the white landscape, the glare blinded her. Within seconds, she was on the ground with a sharp pain in her back. She was rushed to the hospital and given two weeks worth of painkillers. Once the medication ran out, she wasn’t just in pain, she was painfully addicted. In an attempt to ease her pain, Charlotte turned to more dangerous street drugs. Her life fell apart. She struggled with addiction. When she was 23, her mom decided to check on her after she hadn’t heard from her for a while. To her despair, she found her baby was now one of the 130 people that die daily from opioid related overdoses.
The opioid crisis is a national epidemic. America only takes up 5% of the world population yet consumes 75% of the all the world’s prescription drugs. Highly addictive prescriptions are often given out before any other means of pain treatment. These drugs are given to teens whose brains make them more susceptible to addiction and drug abuse. In addition, according to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, “teens who abuse prescription drugs are twice as likely to use alcohol, five times more likely to use marijuana, and twelve to twenty times more likely to use illegal street drugs such as heroin, Ecstasy and cocaine”.
There are so many other ways to treat pain in a better, safer way. Doctor Danielle Ofrey states in The New York Times, “pain management specialists and better insurance coverage for non pharmacological treatments and extended doctor-patient discussions” can all be wonderful alternatives. Other non-addictive solutions include prescription and over-the-counter aspirin, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen and non-drug therapies like massages, acupuncture, and high-tech treatments like radio waves and electrical signals. Some people will say that they have no problem taking prescriptions because they know they will never get addicted. However, even someone who is sure they will never become addicted can be. Addiction can’t be avoided with will power. It is a result of the body being dependent on drugs similar to the way you need water to survive. This need will be present their entire life, even if they get clean they will still have the urge to do drugs. Addiction must be avoided at all costs. A bottle of pills can result in a lifelong fight or life that isn’t long. To save people from this fate, keep opiates away from teens when they are most susceptible to addiction. By stopping future generations from becoming addicts, the crisis will subside until we no longer are losing 70 thousand people every year to these little, life wrecking pills.