Drugs are a real problem in the world. As people become more and more desperate for their next high, they begin to perform more and more dangerous acts. Drugs, specifically opiates, dramatically affect crime rates for this reason. But the tragedy of opiate addiction goes deeper than mere robbery. People who are addicted to opiates are at risk of losing their lives. Opiate-addicts are often not entirely responsible for their own addiction. Rather, they are victims of a flawed medical system that relies too heavily on strong medications. While every individual must be held accountable for his or her own crimes, it is important to remember that the life of an opiate addict is a tragic one.
The opiate epidemic is rapidly overcoming the United States. Every day in this country, 44 people die of prescription opiate overdoses. That is 16,060 deaths per year that can be directly attributed to the use of opiates. That's not even counting the lives of those killed in prescription opiate related crimes.
Note the key word: prescription. As in, these medications are being prescribed to people, then they are either being abused by the patient, they are being illegally sold by the patient, or they are being stolen from the patient. The over-prescribing of opiates is one of the root causes of this epidemic.
Over-prescribing refers to the tendency of medical professionals to prescribe medications rather than initiate other sorts of therapy. Often, therapy will help better relieve pain from injuries, and will promote faster healing. Prescribed opiates, however, only dull the pain caused by acute injuries. They do nothing to actually rehabilitate the damaged muscle. Medical professionals are well aware of this. However, doctors and other professionals responsible for the prescription of medication are under extreme pressure from their patients. People who are in pain tend to be uninterested in the idea of physical therapy alone. Immediate relief is favored over long-term rehabilitation.
People who were prescribed opiates for the pain caused by legitimate injuries often become addicted to the medication. That makes sense. After all, opiates are a highly addictive drug. As your body becomes addicted to an opiate, you begin to require more of the opiate to feel its intended effects. That means that in order to treat the pain, you are going to need higher dosages.
The issue is that higher dosages are often unavailable through legitimate means. There are very strict guidelines to prescribing opiates, you see. Doctors are unable to ethically fulfill their patients' requests for more drugs. For this reason, people begin to take to the streets to feed their budding addictions.
This is the point in the opiate addiction cycle at which things begin to become incredibly dangerous. As the search for an opiate leaves the doctor's office, all safety nets are removed. People with no knowledge of medicine begin self-prescribing. This self-prescribing often leads to unintentional overdose.
There are no real villains when it comes to opiate addiction. The opiate epidemic is caused by a variety of failures in a system that is intended to protect people. There is hope, though. Prescription guidelines are being changed in an effort to make the medical world a safer place for all those who inhabit it.