It was recently released that rock legend Tom Petty died of an accidental drug overdose, including a mixture of sedatives and opioids, such as fentanyl. However, Petty wasn’t the first to be struck in the music world. Prince died of an overdose of the drug at his home in Minnesota in 2016, as well. With more than 64,000 overdose deaths in the United States in 2016, we can’t ignore this national health crisis.
The most common drugs involved in prescription opioid overdose include methadone, oxycodone, hydrocodone, and fentanyl. Fentanyl, a powerful prescription painkiller, has risen in popularity and destructiveness in the past few years. Originally used in combination with heroin, fentanyl now causes a spike in deaths from illegal counterfeit pills. Users believe they’re buying other prescriptions off the streets, such as Xanax or Percocet, only to wake up hours later in the emergency room, or not at all.
Several factors have contributed to the current prescription drug abuse problem. One of the largest is the rapid increase in the number of prescriptions written and dispensed by doctors, for anything ranging from moderate to severe pain following a surgery or injury to chronic, widespread pain as a result of an ongoing health condition. However, fewer than 25 percent of people misusing these medications were prescribed them by their doctor. Instead, over half of new users actually got them from a relative or friend who was prescribed the pills legally.
The social acceptability of medication use has also risen. Strong marketing techniques used by pharmaceutical companies have created a culture tolerant of prescription drug use and desensitized to it.
On average, 175 people die each day from opioid overdoses in the United States. They’re mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, friends, and coworkers. The opioid crisis in America affects not only the users, but also their families, their communities, and the workforce. We’re a long way from solving the problem, but supporting those suffering from addiction in finding help is one step we can take to change the course of this epidemic.
Are you or someone you love struggling with an opioid addiction? Our clinicians at Canvas Health can help. Our clinics are conveniently located throughout the Twin Cities. To make an appointment today in Cottage Grove, Forest Lake, North Branch, Oakdale, or Stillwater, call 651-777-5222. For appointments in Coon Rapids or Richfield, call 612-676-1604.
Laura Shiff, who wrote this story, is a freelance copywriter from the Twin Cities. She specializes in writing web content for software, tech, and medical companies. In her spare time, she can be found reading, chasing her toddler, or searching for the best cheese curds in town.