August 29, 2016
The drug and alcohol problem in this nation wears a new face and that is the face of prescription drug abuse and addiction. One might be puzzled initially by this. Aren’t the pills supposed to be the ones that are good for us, and the illegal street drugs supposed to be the ones that are bad for us? That’s the way it is supposed to be, but it hasn’t turned out that way.
Ever since American pharmaceutical companies began to increase the production and the distribution and the proliferation of prescription drugs, mainly opiate prescription pain relievers, by over three-hundred percent into the hands of the American populace between the years of 2001 and 2005 the effects of these drugs have been just devastating to say the least. More and more Americans have been getting addicted to these drugs and have been dying from these drugs with no responsibility being taken on the behalf of the drug companies themselves.
Now, our soldiers and veterans are being affected and they are being hit hard too. Our armed forces, the men and women we rely on to defend our country and keep us safe, are rapidly becoming addicted to prescription pain reliever pills. This has been a real problem with currently enlisted soldiers, but it has been even worse with veterans.
The cycle is a viscous one to say the least. A soldier comes home from serving his country. He has a wound, whether from combat or not, and he needs help with it. Rather than looking to holistic methods or basic first aid only, American doctors without even thinking just prescribe the soldier painkillers, which he then gets addicted to rather rapidly because they are simply very addictive drugs. This is what has been happening, and it has been rampant and prolific.
Statistics on the Issue
There is some raw data on this, not only as it pertains to vets, but also just with how bad prescription opiate pain reliever addiction is in general. A lot of this comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). For example:
• No less than sixty percent of veterans from recent wars seeking treatment through the VA live with some kind of chronic pain.
• A full fifty percent of all veterans seen by the VA live with chronic pain.
• Nationally and nationwide, 12 percent of VA patients receive prescriptions for pain medicine.
• Opiate prescription pain relievers are now this nation’s most concerning substance by far, which is concerning and quite ridiculous as this substance is supposed to help people, not make them even more addicted than they were before. However, the truth of the matter is that ninety percent of all prescription drug overdose deaths occur with an opiate pain reliever. Much of this is because the common ingredient for opiate pain relievers is morphine, the same active ingredient, (or one of many really), that is in heroin.
• Drug-poisoning ED visit rates did not differ by sex and age, with the exception of persons aged 35–49, where females had a higher visit rate than males in fact, usually because of pills of one kind or another. The ED visit rate for unintentional drug poisoning was higher than self-inflicted drug poisoning overall and for males, but did not differ for females. All in all though, for the most part these individuals are abusing drugs and alcohol and having to go to the hospital as a result of it pretty equally.
• Almost one in four teens, (23 percent of them) say their parents do not care as much if they are caught using prescription drugs for non-medical purposes, compared to getting caught with “street drugs”. For some strange reason, there is a great deal of false data about the dangers that are behind prescription drug abuse. People don’t seem to think that they are as dangerous as they really are.
What to Do About It
The key to helping our soldiers and our vets with this opiate pain pill problem lies in two different areas. These are prevention and rehabilitation. With proper and effective prevention, (drug busts, stopping doctor shopping, busting doctors that overprescribe, cracking down on prescription drug monitoring, educating and informing soldiers and vets, etc.), the problem will dissipate a little bit.
The next step is rehabilitation. This is what is going to ultimately help those who are already addicted to these drugs. With proper rehabilitation of an inpatient nature, anyone who is addicted, soldier or no soldier, vet or no vet, civilian or no civilian, can beat their addiction once and for all and for good too. This is definitely what is needed most and it is needed sooner rather than later.
This problem does not have to be permanent or lasting. Prevention will assist to stop a lot of people from becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol. Inpatient, residential, drug and alcohol addiction and dependence treatment centers, detox facilities, rehab programs, and recovery organizations can help and recover those who are currently addicted. With these two methods utilized in full force, this problem can finally become something of the past once and for all.