The prescription painkiller epidemic is not localized to just the United States. Canada is also facing a prescription painkiller problem on the same scale, if not worse than the U.S. In Ontario, Hamilton which was once plagued by crack addiction is now facing a new leader of destruction. Opiate based painkillers such as Oxycodone, Fentanyl, Percocet and morphine have moved in and taken over.
Due to the destruction that opiate painkillers have caused and the rapid increase in use, doctors, police, pharmacists, and even the coroner's office have created a special task force to help combat the growing issue. It has gotten to a point where everyone knows someone who is or has been affected by opiates.
According to the Drug and Alcohol Treatment Information System, admission rates for Hamilton opioid withdrawal programs are now the second highest in Ontario, behind only northern Ontario. Opiate overdoses now make up over half of all acute drug related deaths in Ontario. 10 Years ago, heroin was the opiate most doctors saw, now it has become prescription painkillers.
Most users start in their teens and as their tolerance builds, their use progresses over time. It starts out as a recreational type of thing and before they know it, they are addicted. Most young adults have no idea what to do, where to turn, and even what they got themselves into before it's too late. When an addicts runs out of pills for the first time and they become ill from the withdrawals, they take more to make themselves feel better. Complaining of flu like symptoms as well as depression and anxiety, most users look online for answers. After a quick research session on the internet, it becomes evident that the recreational habit they have is much worse than they had originally thought.
When one becomes sick after stopping use, it is normally a dead giveaway that they are addicted. Instead of going through the withdrawal symptoms, most users head out in search for more pills. Most addicts say that they don't have as serious problem as most people they compare themselves too. Many believe they can stop whenever they decide to. Many think that they will just have a little more fun and take care of it down the line when it starts to interfere with their life.
The problem is that most people can not just stop. They need professional help and a strong support system. The lack of education in Ontario needs to be at the forefront in order to fight the opiate epidemic. Professionals and recovering addicts need to get out into the communities to educate the youth. Teach them the truth about what these pills are capable of doing before they become another statistic.