Written by Tyrone Townsend.
The times grow weirder as we muck around through our lives. One constant remains–the media. The media is everywhere; it dominates our daily lives. Radio, television, and the Internet battle to grab America’s attention. The most captivating content from the media is the war on drugs. America’s past decades were spent trying to control an untamed beast; the government spent tens of billions on anti-drug policies including shutting down foreign operations in which armed forces raided crops.
However, the shadow of another drug lingered in the background waiting to step forward— opiates. Between 1999 and 2015, more than 560,000 people died from drug overdoses.
The Veterans Affairs has been in and out of the news for overprescribing opiates. One particular VA facility, Tomah Veterans Medical Center, has been a hospital tarnished with scandals. The veterans call the facility “Candyland” because of its habitual practice of prescribing opiates. In one specific case, Tomah failed to offer proper medical support which resulted in the death of former Marine Jason Simcakoski. Jason Simcakoski died on Aug. 30, 2014, in the hospital’s short-stay mental health unit from “mixed drug toxicity,” having taken 13 prescribed medications, including several that cause respiratory depression, in a 24-hour period.
The Veterans Affairs seemed to have changed their act. A recent research study found prescriptions written from high-dose opioids decreased by 16 percent and prescriptions written for very high-dose opioids decreased by 24 percent; it is also noted the prescribed combination of opioids and sedatives, a possibly a deadly one, dropped by 21 percent over the course of two years. These numbers fail to tell the story of veterans cut off from their regular pain medications without any help to transition. Despite the tremendous efforts, painkillers are easy to obtain with the right connection or the right prescription. Attorney General Jeff Sessions seeks to resurrect the war on drugs, but America is still grappling with the casualties of war.
All Aboard the Opiate Express
How do most individuals become trapped by the fatal claws of addiction? Painkillers.
More than 1 in 10 Americans report issues of chronic pain. For the purpose of understanding the appeal of opiates, I acquired some from an acquaintance of mine who will remain unnamed. The particular opiate I acquired is Oxycodone. Oxycodone is on the list of Schedule II drugs, which makes it acceptable in the medical community but is still a bad hombre causing an increased potential for dependency, abuse, and severe addiction.
To complete my experience, I locked myself in my bedroom and proceeded to tackle six pills for a total of 30mg (5 mg of oxycodone and 325 mg of acetaminophen).
According to my online studies, I read that snorting is the best way to achieve a moment in paradise. I managed to crush them into a white mountain of fine powder.
With a gift card in hand, I formed five lines before my eyes. I used a rolled up dollar to take on the first line, and then proceeded to the other four. It did not take long to achieve a tickling sensation through my body. I only felt good vibes greeted by warmth. Pleasure crept up on my body within approximately 30 minutes. I was aboard the Opiate Express. The waves of calm surged through every nerve ending, and I wanted to embrace the world with a hug. I left my room then headed out for a jog through my apartment complex. I was in the middle of sweet, complete euphoria. All feelings of anxiety and stress melted away. I waved and smiled at a variety of folks as I passed them by on my uplifting jog. I also chatted with a couple of dog walkers and managed to set up play dates for my puppy with ease.
The opiate high is vastly different than that of alcohol. Alcohol drowns problems down with its intoxicating nectar, but opiates rewire the brain to experience a slice of heaven. When I returned to my apartment door, I immediately sunk into the mattress of my bed and enjoyed the bosom of euphoria. After my personal experience, I understand why opiates have become the epidemic they are now. Even though my curiosity had led me to try it, no one should tangle with opioids; they are addictive and dangerous.
What to Do…What to Do
I have witnessed decent individuals hit rock bottom due to opiate addictions, and spoke with rehabilitation counselors about America’s current predicament. Days after my curious dive into opiate dreamland, I craved for more.
But the detriments are greater than the benefits. I turned on the television during my time of craving only to see a health segment on the Opioid Epidemic in America. Most of the information flooded through one ear and out of the other, yet two pieces of information stood out. The first piece was a patient could take the correct dosage and stop; however, he would still face the damaging side effects and then turn to pills to subsidize the pain. Tolerance builds over time but opiates lure patients into taking higher dosages. Doctors realize that any patient who has taken them for months will be dependent on opiates for years. The second piece was that Congress had taken a chance to slay the savage opioid beast by giving drug treatment a $1 billion boost over two years.
Only time will tell where this situation will go, how many other casualties will happen, or how the media will force feed us their biased, paranoid theories. What remains abundantly true is as the opioid epidemic continues, there is a dire need for more action than conversation.