opiate epidemic

The opiate epidemic hits thousands of people every year. A mainstay in the news lately, it is hard to avoid coming across articles, information or reports on the opiate epidemic in America. Prescription painkillers are one of the most widely prescribed classes of drugs in the world, found on the street in illegal forms such as heroin and more. In 2014, 28,000 people died due to opioid-related causes, more than any year on record. At least half of the deaths involved a prescription opioid. An individual is more likely to die from opioid use than gun violence.


Pointing Fingers

It can be easy to lay blame on a certain industry for opioid use. Many people believe health care professionals may be to blame because of the overprescription of painkillers, leading to dependence. Others point fingers at pharmaceutical companies who manufacture and supply drugs. Politicians are often blamed as the epidemic continues to grow for not acting quickly enough to prevent it from happening in the first place. Every person who is involved is to blame including:

  • Teachers who do not educate students on the importance of staying away from drugs
  • Parents for lack of education of self and children about the danger of drugs (prescription or otherwise)
  • Media for not shining a light on the epidemic with facts
  • Consumers for taking drugs without doing research on side effects
  • Health care professions for overprescription of medication
  • Pharmaceutical companies for manufacturing of drugs
  • Politicians for not enforcing stricter laws


Shared Responsibility

Society as a whole plays an important, vital, role in stemming the tidal wave of the drugs epidemic. Most people know an individual who takes prescription painkillers and developed an addiction. It is important to share experiences with others and educate one another. Some of the ways to do this include:

  • Education of self and others (including children) on pain, drugs, alcohol and mental health issues
  • Importance of attending school and staying involved in community
  • Medical schools need to offer pain and pain management courses in curriculum so medical students know how to treat pain without opioid use.
  • Most doctors only know about opioids. Education is needed for doctors to understand all the drugs out there including prescription painkillers and addictive properties
  • Development of toolkit for doctors to include alternative medicine for support of addictions including acupuncture
  • Media portrayal of drugs on TV, in movies, songs and entertainment must change from an escape from reality and society to the very real dangers


Holding one another accountable will be important in stemming the tide but everyone has responsibility to take action without pointing fingers, blaming one another and thus getting stuck in not doing anything. The goal is prevention with a mix of holding everyone to a higher standard of understanding what caused the epidemic and how to help those impacted. Together it is possible to make a difference in the lives of loved ones, local communities and society at large.


Prescription drug use can have lethal consequences. Hired Power is committed to providing necessary resources and information to assist families in making better decisions for treatment. Call us today to find out how we can help.