Serious and in-depth debates and discussions

The Narcotic epidemic in the U.S.

This is a discussion about prescription drugs, the dangers, and what the government has been doing.
I'm unaware of what's going on outside the united states considering Narcotics. That being said,
The 1900s was a time a lot of medications were made. At the start it wasn't considered a bad thing, but then addicts arose. So the government puts a restriction on narcotics and other substances. Smuggling of these products started, and continue today.

In the late 80s early 90s, it was considered okay to prescribe narcotics pain medicine to treat long term pain in patients. Those who have severe back problems for example, something they would have to live with for a long time if not for the rest of their lives.
The problem is, those patients become addicted. People with legitimate pain, most of the time they don't abuse their medications.

But say for a surgery procedure, one that the healing would be months and not just a couple weeks, those patients were perscribed narcotics as well.
A few months is more than enough time to start to become addicted. Then the medication is taken away, they face the problem of being addicted to a substance that was suddenly taken away. Narcotic withdraw is high up there with alcohol withdraw. It's a very painful and terrible ordeal for anyone to go through.
That creates the desperation for that person to begin to turn to the street to find what they want.

There is also the case of maybe a teenager of parents who do use narcotics. The narcotics aren't locked in a safe and they experiment. Which turns to addiction.
hospitalizations for opioid abuse/dependence rose by over 70 percent from 2002 to 2012 in the United States,

And now the government is realizing the mistake. The way they decide to take care of it, is force doctors to either stop prescribing it and or reducing everyone. Now doctors have to find the ones abusing and the ones that actually need it.

Doctor's point of view, they trained up to 10 years to get that degree. Many have had that taken away when it was found they had multiple patients abusing. They have to be stern, they have to be suspicious of everyone.

Now, the government is saying narcotics are only for cancer patients.

...What about those with severe problems like Suicide headaches? Headaches so strong they cause people to consider suicide.
Or perminant nerve damage?
What about injuries that left the patient in pain for the rest of their life?

All of those people are now facing their medications being taken away. Years they have been on these and they are being taken away. Slowly yes so they don't withdraw. But they are in pain, it is not enough.

So what then? Currently there aren't medications strong enough to handle all of these that ISN'T a narcotic.
Marijuana can be used, but isn't approved in all states. Even so,

As a medical marijuana user myself marijuana only goes so far and doesn't help EVERYTHING. Also expensive and smoking is bad. But to buy edibles is even more expensive.

Now the question is,
What do you think would be the best way to handle the epidemic?

Do you think the government is out of control or is right?

There are some programs in a few places that offer to help addicts by providing the substance, and lowering the dose as they come. Slowly getting them off so those who are just addicts can live a clean life. Also clean needles to slow down HIV and other things.

Is that only enabling addicts?

Do you know anyone who uses narcotics? What for?

Re: The Narcotic epidemic in the U.S.

Yeah, this topic get's me going too and I also get caught in the circle of lesser evil.

I've never been a full blown addict, but I had 3 instances where I caught myself getting pulled in and thankfully each time snapped out of it before it became a real problem.

The first time, it was after I got my wisdom teeth pulled. I was given enough Oxy to last me twice a day for 30 days.
I had never had a narcotic before, so in my mind all it would do is make the physical pain numb- like the horrid injection they give you at the dentist (I wince even writing that lol). It was to my at the time pleasant surprise, that it did more than take the physical pain away. My depression was gone too. As a homeless girl living at a women's shelter (ran away from home-parents were abusive), trying to juggle a job and graduate high school my stress was unbelievably high. The fact that just a few minutes after taking a single pill all my tension was gone, my mind was at ease, I felt a very pleasant warmth- I felt for the first time in a long time- at peace. Completely incapable of doing anything but sit there- enjoying it.

In full honesty and reflection, the pain from my wisdom teeth probably subsided after only 10 days. Did I stop taking the month worth of Oxy? No. I continued to use it. I justified it in my head "Doctor knows best, he gave me a month, so I should take the month worth". And each time I took it it was the same wonderful feeling that lasted probably 2 hours before it diluted and I went back to reality.

As it came closer to running out, at first I decided to only take one at night, to prolong my stash. After a few days of doing this, the "2 hour period" became a whopping 40 minutes. And in my frustration, the last day I took them, I doubled up and took twice than what I was prescribed.

I guess I must have over dosed because I had a violent reaction. Vomitting everywhere. And it was after my spell of throwing up that I saw the open bottle on the floor with my vomit and I looked at myself in the mirror and was like "...Oh." I flushed the rest down the toilet despite a little voice in my thoughts telling me this was a one time reaction. (Yes I know now you aren't supposed to flush them. I didn't know back then.)

Second time, I remember in 2014 my period cramps that year were for whatever reason more horrid than usual.
They placed a camera up my lady parts to make sure I didn't have cysts growing on my ovaries- which I didn't thankfully.
Heat and stretching wasn't enough and it felt borderline debilitating when the cramps acted up. OTC painkillers didn't touch it.
After speaking with my OBGYN, she prescribed me Percocets.

When I realized they worked, I religiously took them, and it took a while but when I realized I was taking them off my period as well as on my period, I had a moment of self reflection of why I kept exhausting my supply before my period would ever come. Leaving me feeling even worse than I did before the Percocets. It was a scary moment for me to realize what was starting to happen. I forfeited them and never filled them again. Changed around my birth control and the intensity of the cramps resolved.

The third and what I hope was the final time,
I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and my flare ups were random and unreal. I was offered narcotics as a prescription, and I refused. because of my past experiences and not trusting myself. But one day a flare up was so bad, my friend insisted I just take one of her Oxy's. She had them from when she had her wisdom teeth pulled, but clearly had better self control than I did, as she jsut never took more than she needed and had them saved for a rainy day if she had a rare migraine. She reassurred me I wasn't being a shitty friend or addict by taking some when I needed them. and I ended up grabbing one every time I went to visit her (I always told her, I wasn't sneaking) and while I did save it for whenever I had a fibro attack, I legit shit you not had moments where I was WAITING to have a fibro attack, because I was looking forward to taking them. When she was down to five left, I told her no more and asked her ot please hide them. She was like "You'd never steal?" and I said "I don't think so but I don't want to know they are there waiting for me. and if you run out you won't have any and I don't have the self control to get my own prescription. So thanks for the druggy vacation (joke)"

I know I have it in me to be an addict, I've succeeded in not completely falling into that trap but it's so obvious to me based on these 3 instances that it could happen, and probably easier than I'd like to accept.

Thankfully, I found my narcolepsy medication essentially eradicates my fibromyalgia. (Xyrem-Sodium oxybate)
so I don't even need to consider it an option anymore. (As the other fibro meds didn't do jack shit for me.)

I worked in a Drug Rehabilitation center for a short period of time, and when I overheard that our waiting list to be inpatient was 4 years it really hit me how bad this epidemic is. We just don't have enough resources for addicts. People are actually on a waiting list that estimates they can get help in FOUR years. Seriously let that sink in.

In 2015, my apartment building was raided. 12 total apartments. 10 confirmed for heroin- several with intent to distribute.
and in one of those apartmetns was a dead body from over dose. The SMELL from them taking the body down the stairs and past my door will haunt me forever. My apartment and my down stairs neighbor apartment were the only ones cleared. But having SWAT bang on my door at 5am as they asked me questions and did a quick search was jarring. I remember a dude with a megaphone just in my hallway announcing the warrant to search the building. I remember hearing 3 shots fired (no one was actually hurt it was bluff shots by one of my neighbors and he was restrained quickly).

Just a week later, I took my sister to the park to play and she picked up a syringe and put it in the trash.
And couple days after that in that same park I walked by for work, I noticed the same man had been sleeping in the same position on the bench for two days. I hesitated approaching, but when I got within a few feet- it was obvious he was dead. I called the cops and they confirmed he over dosed.

All of this in my home city of Manchester, New Hampshire USA.
And ultimately my reason for leaving the state- somewhere where the problem still exists but it isn't so much in your face
as it is in Manchester. And I kept thinking "Shit, that could have been me."

This epidemic is a huge massive reflection of many problems.

Our healthcare system is broken, I spent much of time when homeless very sick but not going to get seen or treated because I couldn't afford the copays. I amassed over the years $31,000 in medical debt- a majority of it being while I HAD insurance.
I had to go to court to get the debt reduced down to $18,000 and today I'm at $6,000 left to pay. Our healthcare is outlandishly expensive. An allergic reaction/anaphalctic shock from ambulance- to waiting in the hospital 6 hours to even speak to a doctor and walking out with a $3000 bill was where the debt "started". It makes sense that street drugs to self medicate are so prevalent. I have nothing but sympathy for addicts- yes they chose to use drugs- but how can a group be hated for just wanting the pain to go away? I've lost 22 kids in my graduating class to heroine. /Most/(there are exceptiosn of course) people don't wake up one day like "Lol I'm bored lets get hooked on heroine". A majority, were truly suffering and ended up having a "fuck it, if it takes the pain away I'll do it" mentality.

As with my wisdom tooth story- I believe we give out way too much narcotics. And it creates a hook.
Each state is different in what services you can receive at cost to the medicaid/care program.
Massachusetts we do use a socialized healthcare insurance system- you can choose to go private. Or you can get the states and depending on your income is depending what you pay. A majority of people fit into the "total coverage" or "small copay" categories. So it's for the most part easy to get help here in Massachusetts if you have access to a computer, and can provide the records proving your a citizen here, blah blah blah. New Hampshire tho? The state motto is literally "Live free or Die".
They offer a socialized coverage plan up through the age of 19 years old - only if your parents meet a specific (and super low) bracket of income- which isolates the middle class entirely. On top of that, you get random audits showing that if you make low income you are applying for higher paying jobs- and if you don't have a a job at all, regardless of the reason, if you don't get income in 3 months your coverage is removed- including food stamps (unless you have kids). And if it's a matter of a letter got lost in the mail- oh well. Waiting lists to go down and request to speak with someone are astronomical. You'll be puto n hold if you call for a very long time and often hung up on or stuck at a voice mail. Your only option is the computer and you ahve to resign up all over again which is a back and forth process in of itself.

So while Massachusetts has a heroin issue too, it's maybe like 1/4th of the issue that New Hampshire has (when you convert population to percentages). And I really think that reflects based on the availability and realism of resources between the two states.

I don't know the full solution to this though, but I think a priority should be destroying the street market appeal. I know people get up in arms about making methodone clinics but those exist as a literal way to combat the epidemic and remove the enticement to go to dealers. You get assured not life threatening doses, active guidance, and you become the undefeatable competition to everyone out there trying to smuggle heroine in. This is something that would require years of efforts. There is not a single thing we can do that will eliminate this problem in a couple years- this is going to be a decade or more process to diminish but requires cooperation, funding, and wether people agree or not - an empathetic approach.

The hard thumb approach will inevitably create more relapses, and make the street value more enticing. This went from a uncommon back alley drug to a full fledged epidemic because we don't have enough help out there for people and the more people that lump them into this "Lol fucking addicts just shoot them all or let them overdose IDC lol" spread the thought, and prevent them from reaching out and getting help from feeling ostracized. Their dealer sure isn't talking shit to them.
But it's also true that you can't help an addict unless they want help. But I feel like a majority wanted help before they ever got started on this path of addiction- but fell on deaf ears. And every time I make that point there is usually someone popping up
"Well I struggled and suffered to and I did it just fine." Which is great for them but very obviously not the case for everyone.

And as the points you made, it stands that some people do genuinely need them to function as they have debilitating conditions, and there is yet to be too many alternatives. (I tried weed and personally it did absolutely nothing for me but make me sick. The CBD oils didn't do anything for me either.) I'm lucky to have Xyrem to help my Fibromyalgia but at this time you can't get xyrem unless you suffer from Narcolepsy with Cataplexy. (It is currently in trials though to treat Fibro so hopefully some day!)

It's a tricky balance. And no answer is perfect. This was a problem that was ignored for too long and now it's a beast.

Re: The Narcotic epidemic in the U.S.

I'm glad you were able to finally get the balance and help you needed.

I was one of those teens. My mom took medicine for her head because she had a shunt, and gets massive headaches.
Her medicine was such a high dose however, Fentanyl you don't mess with. I took half of one, and would be sooo loopy.
At the time I had the start of my stomach problems. It hurt so much, my mom gave me one. And that was the start.

Soon I was stealing her medicine. I was so addicted, you are a different person. You would never steal, but withdrawing you would do anything to get it. I was out of control, and I knew it. I felt terrible for doing it, but I would conveniently forget when I had them. The guilt everytime, and the guilt I still feel now, I am not proud of what I was.
I did stop, it was terrible and I never want to go through it again.

But a year later my back begins to hurt. So I think maybe a chiropractor can help. My regular doctor is one as well as a doctor, so he xrayed and worked on my back.
It got worse, when he worked on it I couldn't walk at all. Come to find out with my x-rays that my nerves are being pinched and I have some bone issue. I will need pain management.

And now, I'm back on the pills.

As someone who was severely addicted I can speak for an addict, it is a slippery slope that you can't crawl out of yourself. Well you can, but most likely you go right back.
Not everyone has money for these clincs that help. That's the thing, these places that offer to help your addiction cost money.

You can't sleep, you can't eat, you can't sit still, you can't focus on anything else except the fact that you are out of medicine and how to get more. You justify it every time, every time it's "this is the last one. I'll quit after."

It's not that simple.

I live in Airzona, which is a retirement state. A lot of elderly come here. The problem here is pills, but is turning to heroin quickly with the regulations going on. My mother in law for example is a HUGE pill popper. She is a patient with legitimate problems, however she is one that abuses it too. The doctor know she does. The doctor does pill counts and looks at everything. Makes her urine drop (She keeps a batch of frozen pee just for this)

How do you catch them? How do you deal with that, someone that needs it but also abuses it. She will get 120 oxy 30MG pills a month.
They are gone in 5 days average.

Then there is me. I'm young, my family is vastly in the medical field so I have medical knowledge. Which are both red flags. I'm looked at as a drug seeker many times, so I have to reiterate each visit that I want the least amount possible. I have a problem, and I can't be trusted with large doses. Once you've been an addict, you will always be that. Your brain is different, and there will always be that small part of you that wants it. It's a constant fighting with yourself when you even SEE or hear about it.

All of it was ignored too long, and now there is a generation that is addicted. But to suddenly take it all away, these people WILL turn to Heroin as a last resort. Cheaper.

My mother in law buys off the street too. She will go broke easy in a day buying. Asks us for money to help pay bills because she spends 20$ for ONE pill.

That's how it goes. They start buying pills, but it becomes too expensive. Heroin is cheaper (I wouldn't know how much) but it is.

It's going to take many years of doctors changing the way they perscribe, and getting patients off medicine. As well as development of medication that's as strong but isn't addicting.

Meanwhile, my mom who still needs them, they have lowered her so much she can't move anymore. And doctors still say "Well you don't have cancer. So you shouldn't take as much."

All these clinics that help addicts, need to be cheap or no money at all. But that will never happen. Most addicts aren't rich. And only the rich can afford places like that. I think if clinics were cheaper, more people would try to get the help they need.
The only brush I've ever had with pain meds THAT strong was the epidural during labor. However I grew up with my mom who used them. She'd always been a marijuana smoker and always liked to remind us that she came from a time where drugs were all over the place. She also went on and on about how our dad chose drugs over us. Though that wasn't true.

My mother is a narcissist. One year mom broke her ankle and after that she never stopped the pills. They made her sleep all the time and because of it she missed a lot of important points in my life. She also always was hounding me for money. Any money I made she had a reason to take it from me. She let my brother run rampant and do whatever he wanted and he stole whatever he wanted from me and my mom just said 'boys will be boys'.

She threw him into the foster system when he started stealing her drugs. When I started dating my now husband she tried to break us up because she was losing her control over me and I was the only kid she could leech off of left. Inevitably I did leave, and when I moved across the state to Illinois she refused to come to the airport and see me off. Hell when I returned here to Oregon she didn't come to see me either.

When I had my kid I cut off all contact with her. She now tells anyone who will listen all sorts of nasty things about me and gives my family who still get to see my son hell. I don't know if she's always been like this or if its the narcotics but I know they aren't helping. I told her she could see her grandson if she stops but she hasn't even tried.

I don't know how to help her. It feels like cutting her off entirely is the only thing I can do. I've tried everything else. I know she's somehow getting them from her 'friend' who's been fighting breast cancer. At least this way I don't have to listen to her backhanded compliments and judgy comments about my life choices.

Re: The Narcotic epidemic in the U.S.

My Mother developed something in her brain, she needed a shunt. She also has neck issues, and head aches now. So she started medicine. The doctor started her on some of the strongest stuff on the market, which was I got hooked to as well.

My mom slept a lot too, the couch was her spot. For a long time I thought it was normal, that mommies were just so tired they had to sleep all the time. Imagine my shock when I met other kids who mothers actually WORKED for a living.

Narcotics are nast, my mother just made her sleep.
My husband's mother it changed her for the worst.

Same problem, leeching and angry always angry.When she had her drugs, she was happy. She would steal mine because unfortunately I am on them with my doctor's orders. A small dose, and I try to go without when I can.

But if she doesn't have drugs, she changes. Withdraw is nasty, it's uncomfortable. I've been through it.

Almost every month when she steals my medicine or my husband GIVES it.

Narcotics can change a lot of people. Some changes are more obvious.

That's why I never want my son to know I take them. Never.
I understand your hesitance but I think (and I'm not a doctor.) that it might be healthier to stop her from taking your meds. I know thats not easy, while I was on anti-depressants my mom would steal them. But while some people are nasty on narcotics not all are. You aren't. And my mother in law who just got out of knee surgery isn't. Having someone who knows you and knows when you aren't you is a good thing. That way they can help you when you need it. I'd also talk to a therapist or someone like that. See what they think would be best.

Re: The Narcotic epidemic in the U.S.

After a couple years of my husband supplying her with my own medicine I had to threaten to spend the night at my parents whenever he did that again.
Worked so far.

...I'm so glad I don't have to go back home. Would have been a punishment for me too lol

His mom will spend hundreds easy on them. And she gets 120 a month, will be gone in 4 days.
Yuck. As I said my meds were stolen too and it's made it hard for me to want to go back on meds at all. I know that's probably what the doctor will want to do but there's still that fear in the back of my brain that someone will steal them. Even though I know my husband and roommates would never and my son is too small to get them.

Re: The Narcotic epidemic in the U.S.

I understand the fear, it sucks especially if it happens. I have a lock box though, number combo. Maybe you can get one? Makes me feel a little better, I just got it and my husband don't know the combo.

Re: The Narcotic epidemic in the U.S.

Talking about things help a lot. For years I needed medicine like anxiety and depression. But the more I talked these things out I did get better.
You know if there is anything bothering you I know I'm a stranger and all. But sometimes talking to strangers help. =) You can PM me anytime if you want.
Thanks. I appreciate it. I actually was thinking about just writing a... memoir I guess? Of everything. I did something similar when I had a small dip and it kinda helped. I don't think anyone would be interested in it but it might be therapeutic for me.

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