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We Need to Overcome Stereotypes In Order to Conquer the Opiate Epidemic

The opiate epidemic does not seem to be slowing down. With more lives being taken per year than car accidents, it seems as though the opiate abuse issue is not getting enough attention. What is causing this problem to fall on deaf ears? When it comes to addiction, it has long been assumed that the people who fall victim to it are lacking willpower or common sense. This has been the stereotype for decades. What used to be perceived as inner-city, homeless drug addicts robbing their local neighborhood stores for their fix, has turned into middle aged housewives committing credit card fraud to afford their addiction. Drug abuse, more importantly opiate abuse does not discriminate.

If we want to make real progress in the opiate epidemic, we need to lose the stereotypes. Stereotypes do not fit the real life scenarios any longer. Prescription painkillers that are prescribed for minor pain are at fault for creating addicts. Before the late 90's it was illegal in the most states to be prescribed opiates for non-cancer related pain. This is a statistic that many people are unaware of.  It was actually illegal for a doctor to prescribe opiates unless their patient was in chronic pain from cancer related illnesses. Now in 2015, hydrocodone is the number one prescribed medication in the United States. You read that correctly, the number one prescribed medication in the United States is an opiate painkiller. How does such a drastic change not get more media coverage? How did we as a nation not see this coming, but more importantly what are we doing to solve this issue? To me, it seems we are not doing enough.

It's sad to see how many people have become addicted to opiates. I do everything I can to help as many people a day as possible. I truly believe that is why I was put on this earth. What still bothers me to no end is some of the reactions I get from some people I talk with. They can not believe that I was addicted to opiates. They wonder if I was really messed up, dirty and homeless and I just shake my head. I tell them that I looked exactly the same way I do now. Many times opiate addicts do not have a "look" to them. It is simply a chemical dependency to a substance. Of course some addicts will do more rash things then others to get their fix, but as a whole, addicts are people that are sick and need help.

Losing the stereotypes and the guilt of being an addict is necessary to make a difference. People fear coming out in public that they are in recovery because they believe they will be judged in a negative way. Many feel it may impact them financially or that they will be looked at as weak. These types of things need to stop. People in recovery need to come out of hiding. The more people that do and show their pride for overcoming their addiction the more people that will be educated and see that people in recovery come from all walks of life.  If you or someone you know is addicted to opiates, please seek professional medical treatment.

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