Street Tales: One reason why

Recently, we call a call from our son to say that he had an accident in his workshop. He had driven a chisel into his hand severing a tendon in his left hand, which left him unable to work for about a month. As well, the pain required that he take the medication which was prescribed. Reluctant to take strong opioids to deaden the pain, he tried Ibuprophen and Tylenol to no avail, so the surgeon strongly suggested he take the more powerful medication.

In the pharmacist’s suggestion, he mentioned that because it was an addictive opioid that he start with a strong dose; decreasing the dosage as soon as the pain became more tolerable. This is what got me to thinking about many of the discussions I’ve had, and articles I have read, about the reason some people give for their addiction to these mind numbing drugs.

One fellow in particular came to mind. ‘Gregory’, about 45, when questioned about his addiction, stated quite emphatically that it was a serious accident requiring about a year and a half of painkillers. When he tried to stop, the fear of going without was so difficult that he took some to fight the effects of the withdrawal, which he said eventually led to the addiction that he now deals with; or should I say does not deal with.

The following description is taken from a brief of the American Addiction Centers:

Opioids perform a trick by tinkering with chemical levels inside the brain. Typically, brain cells release a boost of a specific chemical, dopamine, when something rewarding or pleasant is happening. Opioids prompt the brain to release a lot of dopamine, so a person taking the drug might feel happy, at ease, or rewarded, even though something very painful is happening.

That same boost of reward can be terribly addictive, however, and people who take these drugs tend to need more and more of them to feel that same level of boost. As a result, opioids are terribly dangerous. Addicted people tend to take too much, and when they do, they suppress the urge to breathe. People can die due to this habit. In 2008 alone, according to NIDA, 14,800 overdose deaths were attributed to prescription opioids.

Today, that same number has more than quadrupled, but you begin to understand the attraction to these nefarious drugs. It begs the question, what are the controls in place to prevent these drugs from taking over. Sadly there is none, other than the prescriptions are given in limited quantities. For the person whose dependency on that happy feeling, getting more under the table is generally quite easy to do. The price may be higher, but to a person with a dependency, obtaining the funds becomes a secondary issue.

‘Gregory’ is now a full-blown addict to OxyContin drugs, leaving him on the street in pursuit of money, however he can obtain it, just to stay ‘happy’. He finds work here and there, although soon loses the jobs due to his behaviors when he does not get enough drug to keep him in an agreeable frame of mind.

My question would be, are these people weak that they should become addicted, or is there more than one influencing factor for them to desire that constant mind numbing feeling? For many, abuses from the past are temporarily removed from their thought processes, but the mind vacancy grows shorter and shorter the more they use, so it becomes a never-ending cycle. Before long, this becomes an almost never-ending cycle of self-abuse.

The reasons for becoming addicted to prescription drugs are many and varied, but this is just – one reason why.

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