Upon learning that there would be a new opiate addiction treatment facility in my neighborhood, I was decidedly thrilled that steps were being taken to aid those in need. I find it extremely noble that the drug, alcohol, and mental health board is doing something to help those addicted to opiates. While I understand that some people may be concerned with the kind of reputation that a rehab center may bring to a community, I fully believe that the treatment center will be an excellent way to show that we care and want to help our fellow citizens. What town doesn’t want to say that they help their own?
Are we suddenly too important to help those in need? Just because we may not have gotten sucked into the world of drugs ourselves, we are certainly not above helping those who have. By bringing a treatment center to our community, we are really bettering the community. If citizens of our town are struggling with drugs and feel like they do not have a safe and supportive environment in their lives, where will they turn to? Or a better question: what will they turn to? The answer: pain relieving drugs. A recovery program in our community could be the safe haven that addicts need.
Once the patients receive the proper care that they need, our society will grow as well. With prescription drug use decreasing, the cost of health care will decrease for employers. In the same light, employee productivity should rise without the constant preoccupation of the drug affecting a worker’s concentration and ability to perform tasks. Every year in America, about 400 billion dollars of taxpayer’s money goes towards health care expenses, unemployment wages, traffic accidents, crime, and criminal justice system fees brought on by opiate abuse.
More treatment facilities around the country could play a role in reducing taxes. As well as cutting taxes, treatment facilities would also provide many opportunities for employment. Whether it be constructing the facility, helping patients, working in the facility’s kitchen, or holding down the front desk, a rehab center would provide a range of positions for different people with different work experience. Especially within our small town, any type of new job position is greatly appreciated in this unstable economy. In 2009, sixteen million Americans of the ages of 12 and over reported that hey had taken a prescription drug for a non-medical purpose at least once within the year prior to taking the survey. Clearly not all of these cases result in an overdose, but all it really takes is one desired outcome and taking the drug can easily become habitual. The number of prescriptions filled for opioid pain relievers increased 402% between 1997 and 2007. From 2007 to 2008, the amount of overdoses on opioids increased and has remained fairly steady ever since. Surprisingly enough, drug-induced deaths are the second highest cause of fatality behind motor vehicle accidents.
Drug-induced deaths alone claimed about 38,000 lives in 2007 alone, with opioids making up about 12,000 of those lost lives. From 1999 to 2010, Ohio’s death rate due to unintentional drug overdose increased 372 percent. This increase has largely been driven by the increasing numbers of prescription drug overdoses. It’s not hard to see the correlation between these statistics. Prescription drugs being taken for non-medical purposes is a prominent problem in our country that is only going to get worse with time if nothing is done to prevent it.
Another factor that contributes to the epidemic is that it is fairly simple to get a hold of these kinds of drugs. According to the most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 70 percent of people who abused prescription pain relievers obtained them from friends or family and about 5 percent got them from a drug dealer or over the Internet. These facts don’t even mention how relatively simple it is to get prescription for a painkiller directly from a doctor. Last summer, I hit my head on our freezer door which resulted in a minor neck injury and some major problems with my spine.
The only physical results of the injury were major headaches and spells of nausea from time to time. Without even hearing all of my symptoms, my doctor was quick to prescribe me a bottle of Vicodin. While I never got the prescription filled, I am still amazed at how simple it would have been to get painkillers if I had wanted to use it for non-medical purposes. Bringing the topic back down to a smaller and more focused view, Wright State University recently conducted research that shows that around 500 cases of drug overdose occur in Montgomery County alone.
Hypothetically, if that number was the about same for the other 11 counties included in the Miami Valley, then an estimated 5,500 drug overdoses are taking place every year in our own backyard (give or take, of course). It is also estimated that over 15,000 living in the counties of Montgomery, Hamilton, and Warren have become addicted to narcotics/opiates under the supervision of a doctor. An opiate treatment center in our community would provide help to the hundreds of people of have recently suffered from overdose, as well counsel the users addicted to these drugs who have never suffered from an overdose.
Personally, a facility like this would be a great help for my family. My aunt has suffered from an addiction to painkillers for about eight years now. In 2004, she was in a very bad car accident that did some major damage to her back and shoulders. To ease the pain, she was prescribed OxyCotin. Even after the pain had subsided, she continued to take the drug as a “precautionary method,” in case the pain were to suddenly reappear out of thin air. She continued to over-exaggerate the pain to her doctor, who continued to prescribe her with more and more painkilling drugs.
My aunt was cold and bitter if she was not experiencing relief from the drugs. Her moods could change in an instant and the fights between she and her husband became increasingly frequent and louder. At family events, she would lock herself in the bathroom to take the painkillers and remain in there until she received the desired effect. My family was clueless, mostly because she lied constantly to cover up the addiction. She blamed her anger on the pressure she was feeling at work and claimed that her mood swings were just a result of her increasing age.
About four years after the accident, she finally came clean to our whole family about her dilemma. She begged for our help and asked each of us to support her decision in seeking recovery. My family, unfamiliar with this kind of situation, did not react in the correct manner. Instead of lending support and prayers, they turned their backs on her. I once heard my grandmother refer to her as the “disgrace” of the family. But it wasn’t my aunt’s fault. She had not set out to become addicted to these opiates and there were slim chances of her stopping the habit without the love of her family.
My aunt lost her job and her husband filed for divorce. Things only got worse from there. I remember being woken up in the middle of a cold November night by my mother viciously swinging open my door and demanding that I get dressed as quickly as possible. I was then informed that my aunt had overdosed on painkillers. Once we got to the hospital, seeing my aunt in that hospital bed was one of the darkest and grimmest moments that I have have ever experienced. Thankfully, my family finally caught on the the brevity of the situation and we all pitched in to assist her in getting the help that she needed.
A week after the overdose, my aunt checked into a rehabilitation facility in Grand Rapids, Michigan. After 7 months spent in the treatment center, my aunt gained the tools that she needed to overcome the addiction. While she claims that everyday is a constant struggle, my aunt is currently two years sober. Without the care that she received from going to rehab, she would be lost. I fully believe that my community, specifically, would greatly benefit from a treatment facility in our neighborhood.
Last February, a sophomore at the high school I attended, died from taking a single pill of Methadone. It was Cole Smoot’s first and final time taking a prescription drug that was not his. Cole and his friends were able to easily obtain the drug and around 20 people confessed to knowing that the drugs were being quietly distributed throughout the school. A single life lost to a single pill sparked the movement of “Cole’s Warriors” within the school district and town. Billboards that feature a picture of Cole and the words “Not Even Once” are prominent reminders around town.
An opiate treatment center in honor of Cole would be an incredible way to honor his legacy and remind the community about the danger of taking unprescribed prescription drugs. Opiates not only affected Cole’s life, but also the lives of those around him. Those who knew that Cole had the drug will be forever haunted that they didn’t speak up in time. This is not to say that they are at fault here, but it speaks volumes about the number of people that are easily affected by the consequences of opiate usage. Even students of the high school who did not know Cole were changed by the loss of a young life.
Parents throughout the community became gravely aware of the “new trend” and took precautionary steps to try and avoid a similar situation with their children. It was a reminder to us all that although it may seem harmless at the time, just one pill can have an impact on the rest of your life. By giving aide to those suffering from an addiction to opiates, we would also be healing those who have not yet been affected by opiates. According to ColesWarriors. org, everyday an estimated 2,700 12-17 year-olds take a prescription pain killer for the first time.
One in four high school students have admitted to taking a prescription drug that was not theirs and one in three high school students feel pressure to abuse prescription drugs. 11% of the students residing in Clark County have taken an over-the-counter drug to achieve a high at least once. Lieutenant Chris Clark, a detective during Cole’s case, stated that he was surprised at “the amount of pills that are available to these kids, the amount of ease at which they can come across them and find them, and the amount of ease in which they can transmit them through the schools. A witness in the investigation even claimed that the transactions took place mostly at school in the bathrooms, rotunda, and between bells. The statistics are startling, but the help is just not present enough in our society. The need for these kinds of facilities are increasing right along with the trends. An opiate treatment facility in our community could not only provide rehabilitation, but also help educate local schools on the risks of abusing prescription pills.
As stated as a part of the 2011 Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Plan, the education of abusing prescription drugs would benefit students, parents, and patients on the proper and intended uses of these drugs and how to go about storing and disposing them. Letting others know about this dangerous crisis is the first and most important step in helping diminish the lives effected by opiates. My high school currently has monthly assemblies where a member of a drug prevention group comes and speaks to the student body about the dangers of abusing prescription drugs.
The speakers range from psychologists who specialize in helping those who abuse prescription drugs to former opiate addicts. According to my sister, who is currently a student there, students leave the presentations in tears. She claims that if the assemblies take place in the morning, the entire mood throughout the school is somber for the rest of the day- even during lunch. If members of our community’s treatment facility could hold these types of assemblies in schools around the Miami Valley, the way that younger generations currently view painkillers could change completely.
Ignorance may be bliss, but a few simple facts could save a life. I understand the social stigma that is attached to rehabilitation facilities. In fact, when I think “rehab,” my mind instantly flashes to check-out line tabloids and child actors gone crazy. However, the benefits of an opiate addiction treatment facility vastly outweigh the negatives. While a rehab center may give our community a “reputation” for being a home to prescription drug addicts, it is important to remember that these types of cases are present in every societal situation.
With the proper security enforcements at the facility, there should be no “scandals” of patients trying to escape. I would hope that a center like this would receive a positive response amongst citizens of the community and people would avoid the same frame of mind that my family had when my aunt first informed us of her addiction. Overall, an opiate treatment facility in my neighborhood would be a great contribution in helping our community get back on it’s feet.
It would be an excellent way to show those around us that we care and to do our part in eliminating the increasing abuse of painkillers throughout the nation. The need for this kind of facility is clear cut and obvious based off of the facts and stories that affect our community. In order to help future generations avoid these kinds of tragedies, we need to stand up and make a change. I fully support my drug, alcohol, and mental health board in their decision to build an opiate treatment facility in my neighborhood and I will continue to support the project and what it stands for after it has been built.
http://www. med. wright. edu/rxdrugs http://www. drugabuse. gov/publications/drugfacts/prescription-over-counter-medications http://www. whitehouse. gov/ondcp/prescription-drug-abuse http://coleswarriors. org/coles-story/ http://www. dispatch. com/content/stories/local/2012/04/01/teens-loss-i-miss-him-so-much. html http://www. crchealth. com/learning-center/facts-about-opiate-addiction/ http://www. healthyohioprogram. org/vipp/drug/p4pohio. aspx