The Nugget

Opioid Epidemic Explained

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Cindy Shebley

Cindy Shebley

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Zoey Rogers, Head Writer

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Opioid abuse can harm anyone from old to young. A majority of the population has the ability to access these drugs whether the drugs are illegal or prescribed. To be able to understand the effects of opioid abuse, it is critical to understand what opioids are. An opioid is a narcotic pain medication that is supposed to be used to relieve pain.

Opioids fall under a broad spectrum of prescription medication. Common opioids include oxycodone, codeine, and morphine. It’s safe to say that a majority of people know what these drugs are, but may not necessarily understand the risks. Although opioids can be used to help relieve pain, the abuse of opioids can cause more damage than not receiving medical aid at all. Doctors recommend trying other medications and methods such as physical therapy or using natural herbs before turning to opioid medication. 

Some doctors have been accused of overprescribing opioids. With fairly new legislation, doctors that prescribe opioids are under an obligation to tell their patients what type of medication they are prescribing, why they are prescribing it, and, most importantly, what the effects of that medication could be. Because of high opioid addiction rates, people need to understand the risks of what they are taking.

There have been several high-profile celebrity opioid overdoses such as Lil Peep, Tom Petty, and Prince. Although celebrities are known for their addictive personalities, some of the most ordinary people in Helena, Montana have also been affected by opioids. It is important to understand that opioids can affect anyone.

Jamie Rogers, a single mother of three who has struggled with opioid addiction said, “Opioids were the hardest drugs to get off of.  It affected my entire life, to a point where I could not get out of bed. I was unable to function in society.” Rogers said she was prescribed opioid medication to relieve pain from her dental surgery.

Jamie’s mother, Susan Rogers also described her struggles with opioids and the effects the drugs had on her life. “Although opioid medication made me feel better after my surgery, I had realized that the relief of pain from the surgery was not worth the struggle of addiction,” Rogers said she wished she had known the effects of opioids.  Had she been aware of the effects of opioids, her daughter would never have had the same struggles as she did, Rogers said. Rogers said she was prescribed opioid medication to relieve pain from her car accident.

Getting opioids illegally exposes the vulnerable population to a risk of taking synthetic opioids. An example of a synthetic opioid is fentanyl. The chemical compound of fentanyl has a much stronger effect than ordinary opioids and is cheaper and easier to imitate. This man-made chemical compound has skyrocketed the number of overdoses. This synthetic opioid can be more dangerous than a natural opioid because of the misleading and unknown effects of the drug.

Opioids should not be in use unless prescribed, and in those instances, they should be used as directed by the prescriber. The accessibility and addictive nature of opioids have created a crisis. Jamie Rogers said that “eventually people will strive for the high whether it gets them high or not. At that point, it’s a matter of survival.”

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Opioid Epidemic Explained