We hear a lot about alcohol addiction. From the time we’re teenagers, we start getting lectures on how important it is to drink responsibly, if we even drink at all. Some schools even stage drunk driving “accidents” where students dress up like drunk drivers and their victims, respectively, all in an effort to get teenagers to understand that too much alcohol can literally get people killed. And if we go to college, there may be required alcohol education classes our freshman year. That doesn’t stop people from still doing stupid things with alcohol, but the hope is that it at least reduces the number of people with alcohol issues. Even beer ads will tell you to “drink responsibly.”
However, there’s a growing problem regarding addiction, and we’re having trouble responding to that the way we’ve responded to drunk driving and binge drinking. The number of people addicted to opioids has exploded in the last few years, and there’s no end in sight. Illegal drugs like heroin are typically classified as opioids, and heroin is certainly an issue, but the real rise in opioid addiction has come via people who start taking certain pain medications, then can’t stop taking them. Patients dealing with acute pain are often prescribed medications like oxycodone and hydrocodone, substances sold under names like Oxycontin and Vicodin. They can be lifesavers for people in pain, but they can be liferuiners as well.
What opioid addiction looks like
Opioids are designed to alleviate pain and make the body feel better. But they aren’t designed for long-term use, in part because the longer you’re on something like oxycodone, the more of it you have to take in order to get the same amount of relief. That can get dangerous really fast. It’s not uncommon for people with an addiction to opioids to feel a sense of euphoria. They may also feel drowsy and confused. The latter two conditions make it an especially bad idea to drive, but that doesn’t stop people, and in 2017, Columbia University researchers reported a sharp increase in the number of drivers killed while they were on prescription painkillers. We seem to lack the ability to talk about prescription painkiller car accidents the way we can talk about drunk driving accidents.
Even if you survive a car accident while high on Vicodin, that doesn’t mean people in the other car will. That could lead to criminal charges as well as a civil lawsuit from surviving family members. According to the experts at Stanley Law Offices in Watertown, NY, most car accidents happen because of carelessness, and often the less careful party must pay for damages they caused to the more careful party. Driving while high is the definition of careless behavior.
Society in general is definitely struggling with how to respond to the opioid addiction crisis. Some doctors are prescribing painkillers more cautiously, but there are still hundreds of millions of prescriptions handed out annually. Government officials also seem confused at best and indifferent at worst. But addiction treatment experts know there’s an issue, and there are several reputable rehab facilities ready and willing to help those who want to be helped. Facilities like Beachway Therapy Center in Florida offer treatment for opioid addiction. We’re in the middle of a national health emergency right now, and that’s scary. But that’s no excuse to avoid seeking help if and when you’re ready. It can truly be life-saving.