Today's A to Z Challenge post brought to you by the letter...

In the last seventeen years, the rate of death from drug overdoses has increased 137% and most of those deaths are from opioids. Heroin is one of the only opioids that’s actually illegal, which is funny considering it’s far from the most dangerous. Fentanyl is an especially deadly addition that has been popping up more and more. It not only causes overdose in mere minutes, it can do it in much smaller quantities than other drugs. Funny how the law works sometimes.

Most opioid addiction starts by people taking medication bought/taken/stolen from someone else, but the real problem is in the over prescribing, which was why the CDC’s guidelines are trying to reduce the amount opioid prescriptions for chronic pain patients. Too bad very few of the people who overdose are chronic pain patients and this means that people who are already suffering can’t get relief even though by and large they aren’t the problem.

Still, it can’t be denied that prescription painkillers are overprescribed and overused. It doesn’t help that pharmaceutical companies are interfering with efforts to curb prescriptions. When West Virginia required OxyContin prescriptions to obtain prior authorization from insurers, Purdue Pharma, who made it, paid a pharmacy benefits manager to stop the insurers from limiting prescriptions. It’s downright evil.

There are a lot of factors at play here. You need to balance easing pain with the possibility of addiction, of people selling their medications and doctors overprescribing. And pharmaceutical companies bribing people so they can keep selling them to people. Seriously, what is up with that?

Honestly, since most addicts are actually people with mental illness self-medicating it’s a problem that could probably be mitigated by better mental healthcare. So I wouldn’t be holding my breath for a solution any time soon.


  1. NPR is running an interesting series on this right not (or just finished it?).
    The experts they were speaking with said that over-prescription has gotten over-attention. Yes, it does happen, but not in the kinds of numbers we're being led to believe by the media.
    Most addiction has its roots in teenagedom, and most teens aren't being prescribed pain meds. They do, however, have access to their parents' pain meds, and that's where the trouble starts.
    Although, maybe if the meds weren't being prescribed to the parents, the teens wouldn't be getting a hold of them.

    1. I doubt it could ever be boiled down to just one thing, but yeah, that's definitely an issue, and it's probably not going to get solved by our crappy healthcare system.

  2. We need to end the war on drugs and treat drug addiction like a public health issue. Another thing that we need to do is to stop stigmatizing people with mental illness to the point that they are afraid to seek help because of the risk of being labeled.

    1. Exactly. Mental health is a huge issue in this country and people treat it as some sort of moral failing.


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