“They used to hand out prescription opioids like candies back then,” sighed 43-year-old Jamie Lynn Dahlbeck of Jamestown, New York, remembering her constant battles with addiction. She had been prescribed opioids for the first time, way back in 1991, to manage the painful plantar warts on her feet. She was expecting her son, Zack Dahlbeck, then, who is now 26. Her obstetrician had assured her that the painkillers wouldn’t harm the unborn child.
Eventually, wrist injuries and a congenital degenerative bone disease, during her later years, made doctors write stronger prescriptions to help her manage her misery. Additionally, she was also advised benzodiazepines, such as Ativan and Klonopin, to cope with chronic anxiety and insomnia, which, over time, got her hooked on the pills. As she battled opioid cravings, she turned to her son, Zack to get supplies from the street to feed her addiction. Though he did the needful, it came at a cost. He ended up snorting Vicodin himself. “I discovered that what’s good for my mother, certainly cannot harm me,” said Zack speaking about his addiction to opioids.
The clutches of addiction did not spare Jamie’s daughter, Chanda Lynn, now 23, either. She got addicted to Percocet after a tonsils operation at the age of 16. In fact, the pills were given to her by Jamie, who in turn, had obtained the painkillers from her mother, who had been using them for over two decades to manage her painful migraine headaches. Chanda believes that post-surgical or recreational use of painkillers is the major causes of addiction. “As soon as I tried them, I wanted to have a supply of my own,” she said. To add to her existing woes, when she had her own baby four years ago, the infant was born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). On the other hand, what began with Vicodin, led Zack to a full-blown heroin addiction. “I got high within 24 hours of being home,” said Zack speaking about his experience with drugs. Though he claims to be clean now, Zack has overdosed six times.
Strategies to deal with chronic pain are need of the hour
The reason why a lot of people get addicted to opioids is that they start taking them to manage chronic pain. Currently, defining effective strategies to cope with pain is a challenge across the U.S. Research findings of multiple national health agencies indicate that lower back pain is the most widely present neurological ailment nationwide followed by chronic migraine or headache, neck pain and facial ache.
Researches have revealed that six out of 10 Americans succumb to a fatal opioid-related overdose. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), from 2000 to 2015 more than half a million people died from drug overdoses. Seeing that opioid addiction has spread to generations in a family, the need of the hour is to ensure a cultural transformation across the country to identify, assess, treat, manage and prevent all kinds of painful conditions. Therefore, it is time that health care professionals and providers, governmental health care agencies and educators, public and private funders of health care, including patient advocacy groups, came forward to tackle this alarming situation.
Awareness can prevent addiction
Experts nationwide cite fraudulent marketing tactics adopted by big names in the pharmaceutical industry in the early 1990s as one of the major causes of the widespread addiction to prescription painkillers. In fact, around 2000 drug manufacturers including Purdue Pharma were slapped with lawsuits for resorting to ambiguous advertisements to promote OxyContin by turning a blind eye to the risks of addiction posed by the pills. Sadly, owing to the marketing strategies of such pill manufacturers, the U.S., which has just 5 percent of the world’s population, consumes 75 percent of the opioids produced around the world.
Additionally, most Americans are ignorant about the consequences of the nonmedical use of prescription drugs. They are unfortunately living in a make-believe world, denying the fact that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not have a robust drug-testing and evaluation system in place. In reality, the present arrangement lays the entire responsibility of the drug trial and safety testing on the company which manufactures the drug. Owing to the non-involvement of the FDA in the drug tests, it has to believe the results the pharmaceutical companies provide, and take decisions accordingly, which may not be that well informed.
Moreover, in economic terms, prescription opioids are any day a cost-effective option to manage pain compared to other costly, not to mention, lengthy treatment modalities. However, in the wake of the ongoing opioid-overdose crisis, which is claiming innumerable lives across the country, stalwarts in the medical community are encouraging doctors, physicians and health care professionals to opt for personalized multidisciplinary pain-management approaches to help patients deal with pain. Besides, evidence-based screening tools as a part of any consultation process, alternative treatment options, such as complementary medicines, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) as well as physical therapies, are being increasingly encouraged to help individuals battling long-term pain.
Seeking help for addiction
Unfortunately, most individuals fall prey to addiction more quickly than they might ever realize. The only way to break free from the clutches of deadly opioids is to undergo specialized treatment for addiction to prescription drugs at a professional drug addiction recovery center.
Sovereign Health understands the plight of someone who is unable to discontinue the use of harmful substances despite the negative impact on his or her life. Our customized drug addiction treatment interventions at Sovereign Health of San Clemente are designed to treat the person holistically.
If you or your loved one is battling addiction to any prescription drug, call our 24/7 helpline number or chat online to know about our state-of-the-art drug addiction centers, spread across the U.S.