The Rise of The Opioid Crisis and Its Cause

by - January 12, 2018

Photo by on Unsplash
Long are the days when as a society we waited for the local doctor to diagnose and treat various ailments. It is obvious we are more in control now of our health than any other time in history or are we? Well, it seems like not having insurance or the threat of not being insured is on the minds of millions of Americans, so much that many are turning to alternative medicine or astonishingly taking the initiative to become their own Pharmacist. Of course, we know that a Pharmacist is a skilled medical personnel, specializing in the coordinated and regulated dispensary of drugs, including controlled substances. So, this tells us that if someone is medicating themselves without the regulated process of a dispensary by a Pharmacist, they are committing a crime.
So how does someone even think about self-medicating with substances that must be in dispensed by a Pharmacist? Well, it would appear that this person has a mindset of taking matters into their own hands, correct? Yes, that’s correct! There is a reason why drugs of any kind even homeopathic must be regulated or controlled and it’s because all medicine is actually counterproductive to the body as well as possessing healing effects. Medicine and its use and practice can be counterproductive because the body is designed to heal on its own. So by introducing medical intervention, we must carefully judge how much medicine we need and for how long. This is why we go to a licensed doctor who is trained to diagnose, treat, and monitor the effects of illnesses, the intervention in form of medicine and the process of healing.
When someone decides to bypass a licensed doctor or medical professional who is trained to dispense natural or pharmaceutical drugs, they are putting their life a risk and those in their circle. It only takes one person to incite the idea to obtain drugs illegally and others will follow. Granted, millions of people are in pain, and have health issues that require pain management or other forms of drug therapy. However, there is a process to obtain help, and get the support needed in spite of the lack of insurance, and access to healthcare. There are so many programs and health clinics that offer services to those who lack health coverage, or access to treatment for their ailments. In other words, there is not a real excuse for opioid abuse other than lack of wisdom, patience, and the will to seek proper consistent care for all ailments.
The opioid crisis is everyone’s problems simply because education begins in the home as it pertains to diagnosing an illness when to seek treatment, how much of over the counter or home remedy drugs one can use safely and how long to treat. This matter requires education on the use of drugs and consistent regulatory actions that prevent the abuse of drugs regardless of who the patient is.
We have seen and heard in society how those in power or celebrity status use their contacts and connections to derail the ethical process of drug dispensary, and overturn its mandates to illegally obtain and use controlled substances, particularly opioids such as codeine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine, and the very powerful opioid fentanyl. This opioid crisis is now in the open, but very much like another epidemics in our society, namely pedophilia, and sexual harassment, the war and drugs is really nothing new. We have as a society buried more of our relatives, friends, co-workers, public servants, celebrities, and even members of the clergy sadly at the hands of people who intently gain access to drugs and subsequently abuse them.
So what is the cause of this opioid crisis? Do we put the blame on our inconsistent economy, financial instability, lack of jobs, poor education, increased crime rate, divorce, sexual abuse, domestic abuse, homelessness, the increase in viral and bacterial diseases and infections, global warming, low self-esteem, depression, mental illness, or inherent evil, etc?

Here’s a true story about a woman who underwent major surgery (cervical spine decompression, craniotomy), her experience with opioids, and pain management:
On a very cool February morning in Orlando, Florida, in 2003, a woman in her early thirties went under a very unusual kind of surgery for her age. She had been experiencing massive migraines, blurred vision, unilateral numbness and tingling, and subsequent loss of consciousness and the ability to speak clearly. Emergency personnel feared a stroke but upon a lengthy investigation via an MRI, she was diagnosed with a brain malformation. What a shock this was for her especially just coming off of a 13-hour nursing shift, and having to care for four children as a single mother. With her life now in an uproar, she sought the expertise of neurological specialists and surgeons. After careful examination, it was deemed that the only treatment necessary was surgery.
Surgery was scheduled, the children placed in the care of church family, and with much prayer and intense faith, the surgery was underway, with a lengthy recovery expected. Once the surgery took place and the 48-hour watch was over, and with much shock that her body was will never be the same again, the woman realized that her health was up in the air and that strong painkiller was needed to help her achieve comfort and relaxation during a long recovery period. She was prescribed Oxycontin, Soma, Percocet right after surgery but later had to have them rescinded due to a bad reaction. She complained of urinary retention and had to have a catheter inserted to relieve her bladder. Once taken off her current treatment she was still in need of powerful pain medication due to the type of surgery she underwent.
She was given a lesser intermittent drug or one to take as needed, but as far as pain management went she needed something strong. She was prescribed Fentanyl transdermal ( a patch placed on the skin to dispense the medicine). One day, about an hour or so before her children would return home from school, (with the Fentanyl Patch in place) she began to experience severe nausea, shortness of breath, and a hot flush feeling, so she immediately removed the patch as she suspected that the medicine was the cause of her reaction (and it was). Immediately after she removed the patch, she wiped off her arm and placed a cool cloth on her head. She began to pray and kept her mind on her children. She didn’t want them to come home to a dead mother, so she prayed and calmed herself down. She began to feel better, and then called her doctor’s office right away. The Fentanyl was discontinued and a lower class of pain medicine was prescribed.
Another incident took place months later when she experienced severe neurological pain and was prescribed medicine to relieve her intense pain. While in the emergency room, she was given Morphine I.V., but with the infusion 2 minutes in, she began to feel a hot flush feeling and demanded that the infusion is stopped. The infusion was stopped and she began to feel better. She was then given a lower class pain medication and experienced relief. After the subsequent scares when using narcotics, or opioids, she decided to seek holistic, natural pain intervention. She was still cautioned while using naturopathic medicine as these infusions are just as powerful as pharmaceutical medicine. The young mother learned that temperance and knowledge were her new best friends, as one suffering from pain, usually only thinks, feel and speak about their pain. She learned to be patient with herself, and realize that healing takes time, so attempting the use of strong pain medicine without proper administration is very risky and can even yield fatal results.

Photo by Gabriel Matula on Unsplash

So, obviously this woman possesses strength, willpower, and the knowledge to understand that her situation had a beginning and an end. She realized that her pain didn’t have to be permanent, but it was a sign that her body was not operating within its normal parameters. She did her research, sought knowledge, and understood her body well enough to allow it to heal over time. If only more people thought like this, we wouldn’t have this opioid crisis. Not only did this woman refuse the drugs that could have caused her demise but she also had to challenge the American healthcare system set in place to diagnose, treat, and manage the care of its patients. She chose to take control of her health, do things to prevent further damage such as a change in lifestyle: exercising more, eating healthier, prioritizing, managing stress, increasing her faith, removing self- limiting beliefs, and people in her life that caused her much pain and suffering. These changes don’t happen overnight, but it helps to be deliberate about making the changes needed to maintain optimal health and wellness.
Overall, it is very clear that the cause of the opioid crisis stems from negligence on the part of patients, or people who find themselves in need of relief from the perils of life, and those who are in authority, the ones who are called to manage the care of said people, be it medical professionals, law enforcement, and government officials. In essence, we are in control of our mental health, overall wellness, and how we choose to relieve ourselves of illness, and atrocities. When we lose control of life and our well being we are then susceptible to options that may or may not serve us well. Our families, friends and those we serve need us to be better stewards of life so that we all can live to do what we were born to do. Take care is better than don’t care!
The rise of the opioid crisis and its cause may be one of the biggest problems our country has ever encountered but we must remember that for every problem there is a solution, thus medicine has become a solution to illnesses that stem from the abuse of power, a poor lifestyle, and the inability to make sound decisions. It’s up to us to choose the type of intervention we need to help solve some deep-rooted problems that pharmaceutical medicine can’t relieve.
Perhaps we can endeavor to enjoy the company of people who motivate us, inspire us to be better, the arts such a music, dancing, and even finding love in the sea of muck that renders us vulnerable so we can let love in. In this writer’s opinion, love is the greatest medicine of all. It covers a multitude of sin and can, if we allow it, whether the storms of life.
Crystal E. Melville, M.A., CPC

You May Also Like