The unsuspecting normal people who need pain killers after surgery or injuries are a major factor in the opioid epidemic. Currently, it’s the average American supplying the black market supply of opioids. There are over 200 million prescriptions written out every year for opioids. About 92% of people won’t finish their prescription and less than 10% will dispose of the drugs. ‘Normies’ using opioids isn’t the problem but how they manage their prescription is. The seemingly harmless medication just sits in the medicine cabinet. This has been a major contribution to opioid use disorder deaths which doubled in 2016.
Are You a “Normie” Adding to the Opioid Epidemic?
You’ve probably never thought of it. You get injured and you’re given pain killers. You stop feeling pain so you stop taking the pills. What you may not realize is that your kids are aware of what those pills can do. You may not be at risk of prescription opioid abuse but you may be contributing to someone else’s dependency on the drug. Your kids or other household members may use them or even sell them. A Percocet or Vicodin can be sold on the streets for $20 a pill. Can you imagine your child being arrested as a drug dealer for drugs you mismanaged after discontinued use? Doctors have slowed down on prescribing opioid drugs to those that have potential to abuse them. You hold the key for addicts to get these drugs which are no longer easy for them to obtain.
Opioid Epidemic Continues Despite Political Intervention
Although the government has put a lot of attention on the nationwide opioid prescription addiction epidemic, there is an obstacle to reduce it significantly. The supply of opioid prescription pain killers has gone rogue and caused many addiction deaths. So despite the efforts of politicians, the medical industry and organizations, there has been a 21% increase in opioid overdose deaths.
The Pool of Unused Opioid Prescriptions
With about 200 million opioids prescriptions given out per year, the pool for abuse is deep. Keith Humphreys is a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford. He worked under the Obama administration, creating a drug policy. He said there’s as many opioid prescriptions as there are adults. The problem is that people don’t break down these statistics and think about what the country as a whole is creating. The average of patient who stop taking pills before they’re gone are between 42-71%. Most usually stop because their pain is gone. There are some who have adverse side effects so they discontinue use.
People Using Opioid Prescriptions Not Prescribed to Them
The Jama surgery report found that with almost every injury they looked at, patients had unused pills. Those pills often become a source for illicit use. It can occur with another adult using them in the house or children finding them and choosing to experiment. The report studied 810 patients where two-thirds of them didn’t complete their opioid prescription but kept them. On top of it, 75% of people don’t keep their medications in a locked cabinet despite warnings on the bottle.
Why People Hoard Their Opioid Prescriptions
Patients keeping their opioid prescriptions once they’re done with them don’t seem to understand the ramifications. Studies have shown that there’s usually around 10 pills left that are just lying around the house. Patients hoard the drugs because they’re worried they may have a relapse or have another injury. Having these strong opioid prescription pain killers around ensure they don’t have to go to the doctor in the event they feel pain. It’s convenient to keep them and after all, it’s likely that they paid for them.
Prescription Opioid Epidemic on Kids
Leaving opioid prescription pain killers around the house has caused teenagers to abuse drugs. They have become so easy to obtain and teenagers naturally want to experiment with new things. A 20-milligram OxyContin pill can sell for $20 on the street, making your child an entrepreneur. As it’s so common for people to leave opioid pills in medicine cabinets, people will go to a real estate open house to steal meds from the bathroom. The opioid addiction epidemic is real and people will go to great lengths to get their fix.
Prescription Opioid Addiction Can Lead to Heroin Use
The substance abuse and addiction problem in the U.S. is high and opioid addiction makes up for 2 million people. The majority of people with opioid addiction started by using pain killers prescribed to them. The opioid prescription addiction risk is high. If your doctor doesn’t prescribe more medication, you can look to the streets. You can buy your prescription drug on the street for a lot of money or opt for the more easily accessible heroin. It costs less and the high is more acute. It’s an opiate just like your pain killer so you get your fix. The opioid epidemic is becoming even more extreme with heroin addiction and fentanyl abuse. This is causing an even higher risk of death from opioid addiction. Imagine if you caused an opioid addiction in your child that lead them to using heroin? This is a very real possibility.
Drug Overdose Statistics
In 2016, there were over 64,000 Americans who died from a drug overdose. The greatest contributor to this statistics come from prescription pill abuse. This include oxycodone and hydrocodone (OxyContin and Vicodin). There have been a lot of deaths from the fentanyl and heroin epidemic. Heroin has risen in use over the past few years thanks to prescription drug addiction.
Simple Solution in the Fight Against the Opioid Epidemic
The medical industry has made a lot of changes to reduce the amount of people abusing opioids. Now it’s really up to the general public to manage prescription opioid pain killers in the household. The simplest and most effective thing you can do is flush them down the toilet. While the DEA has stated it can affect the water supply, it’s a better option than leaving unused pills in the house. Another option is to give unused prescription drugs to the Justice Department and Drug Enforcement Administration. They have two days out of the year known as “Take Back Day” where you can safely give your unused pills to a collection location. They will then be responsibly managed. Another initiative from the Obama administration also means there are authorized collectors. They can be pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics. You can apparently even mail your prescription controlled substances to an authorized collector.
Educating ‘Normies’ on Proper Prescription Medication Management
Associations and government programs are making it easy to be rid of your unused prescription drugs. The problem lies in the lack of education patients have about what these drugs can do. TV commercials may ask people to beware of opioids but some people aren’t even aware they’re addictive. It’s certainly not written on the bottle that your pain killers affect your brain the same way heroin does. For someone who responsibly used their opioid prescription pain killers to manage their pain, they don’t see the danger. These drugs can be crushed into powder and smoked, inhaled, or injected. Even worse, they can lead to heroin addiction which is the main cause of opioid overdose leading to death. If people would dispose of their unused prescription opioid medications, it would greatly reduce the opioid epidemic in the US today.