As concerned as I am about the 19.7 million people in our country who struggle with addiction, I keep my ear close to the ground on all issues drug-related. So when I saw a report from last year in the Golden State Sentinel that presented one representative’s efforts to change opioid pharmaceutical prescribing, I was instantly interested.
Most of us who know anything about addiction or who have seen this crippling affliction first hand have also heard the term “intervention” tossed around. Intervention is a broad term, with multiple definitions and applications in several fields.
The marijuana issue is probably one of the most heavily contested segments of the addiction epidemic. Everywhere we look in anything addiction or marijuana-related, there will be an argument over whether or not marijuana is harmful, whether or not marijuana is addictive, whether or not it’s good for you, bad for you, and so on.
Being in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction is infinitely preferable to the alternative of living with an active drug addiction or a drinking problem. But that does not mean that living in recovery is easy or straightforward. No one ever said that it would be.
I’d like to invite our readers to consider an interesting and concerning truism in addiction science. We can all agree that any kind of drug use is dangerous. Any sort of alcohol misuse is dangerous. These are the facts. But there is this interesting, unique, and crucial datum that we don’t give enough recognition to.
I’ve often heard different drugs as being described as similar to one another. Many pharmaceutical drugs carry the same chemical compounds. Even some street drugs are close to each other. And we all know the iconic similarities of the horrible street drug heroin and our supposedly miraculous pharmaceutical opioid pain relievers. These two are very similar, down to their chemical structure.
If we focus too closely on the opioid epidemic, we could miss the growing problem with abuse of stimulants such as methamphetamine and cocaine, and prescription drugs such as Ritalin, Adderall and others. Just like opioids, these drugs can be deadly.
In my years as an addiction counselor, one thing I’ve learned is that while addiction does not see color, the ethnicity, age, gender, income level, background and geographic location of the addict can certainly affect their access to care and ultimately the outcome of treatment.
Anyone who has battled a drug habit or alcoholism and who has managed to break free from it and move into sobriety knows that overcoming drug and alcohol addiction is not like flipping a light switch. A different analogy may be more suitable.
The United States has suffered for nigh on two decades with an opioid crisis. It is a sweeping addiction epidemic that has torn millions of families and individual lives apart. Widely publicized as the worst addiction-related epidemic in the history of our nation, opioid addiction first came about on a grand scale in the late 1990s with the mass introduction of opioid pharmaceuticals as being the primary method of dealing with patient pain.