Pill Popping Peps, say that ten times fast. For this post, I will be focusing on prescription pills. General facts, history, some wit, and overall informative (I hope).
She slammed the door. It had been a long stressful day: her kids were acting up, her boss was a jerk that demanded more and more for the same pay, her husband (heaven knew what the heck he was doing), to stop it off she had just started her cycle. She went to the bathroom. Her daughter had been prescribed hydrocodone because of her massive migraines. She opened the bottle; it would ease her physical pain. She took one, only one. No harm was done. An hour later, she took another; 30 minutes later, she took two, within 15 minutes she was putting five in her mouth and taking them dry. The pain wouldn’t stop. The pain wouldn’t go away.
Certain populations, such as youth, older adults, and women are at higher risk of using pills as an addictive substance. Think about it, it’s easy to access for teens, older adults typically have loads of medication anyone, and women have lots things to deal with. Pills are highest among young adults aged 18 to 25, again pills are easy to access than say cocaine, heroin, or meth. Overall, more males than females abuse prescription drugs in all age groups except the aged 12 to 17 years.
In high school, I remember seeing two girls exchange pills. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but now I know better. Medicine and the dosage are given based on the person; the side effects are different for everyone. What works for one person can kill another. I apologize to those two girls for not stopping them, I was 14 and thought that it was normal. I had seen a television show where this happened and I thought that’s what some close friends (where the popular normal kids) did.
Quick side rant, no I was not popular in high school. I was a nerd, still am. I’m proud of my nerdiness. I love Harry Potter, Supernatural, Sherlock, Dr. Who, anything and everything nerd, I am into. I use to spend my lunch in the library reading or researching random things. My friends were equal nerds; we didn’t share medication. We shared poems and stories that we had written; we shared books; we shared fun facts. We were and are proud nerds! I am 21 and I am waiting for Finding Dory.
Anyway, emergency room visits for misuse or abuse are roughly equal among men and women. More men die of prescription drug overdoses than women. American Indians/Alaska Natives and Whites report the highest rates of nonmedical use of opioids and also have the highest rates of opioid overdose deaths.
Whites also have some of the highest rates for emergency doctor’s visits and substance abuse treatments. Overdose deaths are also more common among Medicaid-eligible populations. The highest rates of death, opioid sales, and nonmedical use are clustered in the Southeast United States (guys I’m from the southeast), especially the Appalachian region, and the Northwest. Rural areas have higher overdose death rates for prescription opioids than urban areas. (Maybe because they are miles away from a hospital). 50 to 80 percent of people dying from prescription opioid overdoses have a history of chronic pain. A history of mental health and substance abuse problems is also common among people dying from prescription drug overdoses.
A little bit of history: In America abuse and addiction goes back to the 1800s. Laudanum, a mixture of opium and alcohol was an early remedy for pain, sleeplessness, anxiety, coughing and diarrhea. The usual laudanum addict was a Caucasian woman. Why? Good question. Women were not supposed to visit bars or saloons or be seen drinking. The double standards of society still makes me salty. Additional, women used laudanum for pregnancy, childbirth, menstrual cramps or emotional problems. Physical pain, physical pain, physical pain, pain caused by society- pain is the common equation.
Here is a fun fact: opium, cocaine, cannabis, morphine, alcohol and other addictive substances were common ingredients, even in remedies for fussy or teething babies. Weren’t parents great! I’m not blaming them; modern medicine was not very modern in the 1800s.
In 1914, the Harrison Narcotic Tax Act was passed. This act made addictive substances under the control of doctors, requiring a prescription (and payment of a tax) for their distribution. A lot of drugs, by the way, are illegal because they are not taxed. Anyway, this law eliminated the casual distribution of opiates, alcohol, cannabis and cocaine.
In the early 1900s, opium was made illegal in the United States. In 1937, Methadone was created as a powerful painkiller that was used during surgeries. American pharmaceutical companies were putting out various forms of painkillers faster than most could keep track of, kind of like guns today. (I am huge supporter of the 2nd Amendment, but I do believe that we need to be careful as to who can buy guns).
Back to pills; oxycontin was released, and before that oxycodone. There were also various forms of the oxycodone pill like hydrocodone, Vicoden, Percocet, and Lortab. The national statistics reported an epidemic with over 8 million people misusing the substances. At the same time, use rates for heroin dropped.
Today there are harder laws in place, and obtaining strong painkillers like the ones listed above has become very difficult. This, however, does not mean there is a decrease in abuse and addictive; it just means they are addicted to something else. Prescription painkiller users have ended up on heroin. It makes sense, heroin usage dropped when pain killers became were everywhere, now it’s harder so the usage of heroin has increased. It’s actually cheaper in some places to get heroin than painkillers. Both substances modify the natural reward system in the brain, and they create a physical dependence where the body feels a need to take the drug. The first step is the hardest: detoxification. This followed typically by counseling (inpatient and outpatient and 12 step programs (narcotic anonymous). Addiction medication (ex: naltrexone & buprenorphine) can be used. Meditation, acupuncture, and equine assisted therapy are also used based on the person. The cost for a 30-day program can be anywhere from $2,000-$25,000 inpatient and for outpatient, it can range from little to nothing to $10,000. It depends on the insurance and how much each center cost. Here is the kicker though, only 5-10 percent of cases are successful.
This is just some facts on pain killers. I have talked a lot about opiates like opium, morphine, codeine and heroin. The next post will talk about them. Keep in mind also that I have not mentioned antianxiety like valium and Xanax, which are highly abused. Also, antipsychotic and antidepressants are not typically abused but it does happen.
For now, just be careful as to where you leave your pills.
“I’m not a big fan of psychoanalysis (either am I): I think if you have mental problems what you need are good pills (I disagree, but hey everyone has their opinions). But I do think that if you have things that bother you, things that are unresolved, the more that you talk about them, write about them, the less serious they become.” ~ Stephen King
I agree 100 percent and then an addition 100 percent more with the last part. Talk to someone, write what is bothering you down. It helps, and it is much healthier for you.