By: Muhammed Zouabi

There is a major problem in the United States. It is rapidly growing and affects almost everyone, directly or indirectly. The issue does not discriminate, and anyone from any walk of life is prone to this problem. As reported by the Center for Disease Control, there have been 64,000 drug overdose deaths in the United States in 2016 alone. That death toll has been increasing and shows no sign of slowing down. To put it in perspective, there were roughly 33,000 gun deaths in the United States per year according to the CDC. The opioid epidemic is a problem, and it has been recognized as a national emergency by the United States, and action must be taken to save the increasing number lives that are being taken.

How does it end up like this? The most common way to get introduced to prescription opioids is through the healthcare system. There is a problem with how doctors see pain in healthcare. If a patient comes complaining of chronic pain, it is much easier and less time consuming for them to take pills. This is the initial way for many people to get introduced to opioid use. Chronic pain can afflict anyone; it can be as simple as getting into a car accident or as complicated as a rare genetic disease. But doctors are busy people, and the drugs are already there ready for use. Taking a pill to wash away the pain is much more simple than setting up physical therapy plans and pain management plans that are not related to opioids. Limiting this practice and setting up a plan of overcoming pain without the dependency of opioids will lead to fewer people getting hooked on prescription drugs. Fewer people taking prescription drugs will result in fewer people dying of drug overdoses.

This is not only a story about death; it is only a result of the underlying issue, addiction. There is a problem with how people see opioid users. Some choose to ignore the emotional support that needed by opioid users for them to recover. When it comes to addiction, it is not as easy as just stopping and moving on. Unfortunately, it is not as easy as taking a pill and then the addiction will go away.  There is a tether to whatever that person is addicted to. Ignoring the emotional aspect and mental health of addiction only strays away from a potential solution. Recovery requires a support system, without it anyone is bound to relapse. If you or anyone else affected drug abuse seek out help. There are many support groups that are ready and capable of helping people with their recovery. SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a great place to get referred to support groups.