A Killer Among Us: Opioid Addiction

We’ve seen a startling 95 percent increase of drug overdose induced fatalities in the last 10 years. Deaths caused by opioids (oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, etc.) account for two-thirds of that number. Many patients are ignorant of the dangers of opioids because they’ve been legally prescribed by a doctor. The danger seems less because the drugs are not illegal. However, we’ve clearly seen just how dangerous they can become.

Our best line of defense is to intervene before addiction begins. But we must also have a course of action to aid those who have already been taken over by addiction.

How Does Addiction Start?

It’s easy to think it won’t happen to you. Maybe you’re aware of the dangers and risks, but you know you’re not “that type of person.” It’s important to know that NO ONE is immune from developing a drug addiction. The likelihood of opioid addiction increases after a mere 5 days on the medication. It’s recommended that prescribed opioid use last no longer than 3 days, at the very lowest dose possible.

Addiction begins as a pleasurable experience. The drugs block pain receptors and increase endorphins, creating good feelings that you want to continue – especially when it wears off and the pain returns. As drug use continues, the body’s production of endorphins slows down, creating a “tolerance” of the drug. This tolerance means you need more of the drug to get those same feel-good feelings. Continually increasing the dosage of the drug to achieve the desired “euphoria” is what can lead to overdose.

What starts as a pleasurable experience becomes a controlling force. You no longer have a choice in the matter and your body takes over. An insatiable need for the drug becomes greater than any knowledge of the dangers involved. This is how families are torn apart and lives ruined by the epidemic of drug addiction.

How Do We End Addiction?

The simplest way to end addiction is before it starts. Lessening the number of opioids prescribed is an obvious way to keep them out of people’s hands and off the illegal markets. Taking the extra time to educate patients about proper use and disposal is imperative. Monitoring patients who have prescribed opioids for pain management is also important. There are certain indicators that reveal a greater risk for addiction, but we have to keep in mind that ultimately anyone could be at risk.

For those who are already suffering from addiction, we must provide assistance. Help is available in the form of addiction lessening medications and rehabilitation centers. We have to keep the conversation going, end the stigmas attached to drug addiction and extend a hand of hope to those who are suffering in silence.

Rehab Is Not Enough

The tragedy for those affected by addiction begins long before a life ends. Families suffer through with their loved ones, helping them through rehab, watching them suffer through withdrawal, and seeing them go back to the addiction that caused it all. One of the most common causes of overdose-related deaths occurs to people who’ve completed rehab programs. They’ve gotten clean, but try to go back to the same level of drug they were taking before. Their bodies no longer have a built-up tolerance to that concentration of drug and they die instantly from an overdose.

Rehab Centers alone are not enough. Those struggling to overcome an addiction, even after rehab, need hope. Hope for a better life, for relief from the pain, the mental battles they face, a life after addiction that can only come from the proper input. We have to stop fighting old habits and start building new ones. It’s the only way to create lasting change.

Centers like Mercy Multiplied offer a place of restoration and a bright future for women from all walks of life. They help young women struggling with addictions, victims of abuse, prostitution, unplanned pregnancy and more. They equip these women to begin again and give them the tools to prosper and flourish – all free of charge. If you know someone who needs help and thinks Mercy might be the right fit, please reach out before it’s too late. Every life is valuable. We’re losing over a hundred lives to opioid addiction every single day. We need you here. We need your story of overcoming to help those who think they can’t.

Kristy’s KleanUp is dedicated to the memory of Kristy Lee Farnham (the daughter of IAB Health Productions’ owner) who lost her life and her unborn child’s life, battling opioid addiction. Kristy was an advocate for the environment. She kept journals of her life goals and one of her major goals were being involved in a cleanup group for local parks and the community. We honor Kristy’s life by organizing Kristy’s KleanUp this year for her birthday (September 13th) and will continue to remember her every year by making Kristy’s KleanUp an annual event.


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