A Murderous Epidemic
Information Effect Revision
By Jordan Fata
In Utah, there is an increasing trend of prescription drug abuse. People are going to their doctors in search of help for their ailments, instead of looking for less extreme remedies. As a society, people are normalizing the excessive use of prescription drugs. The statistics on prescription drug addiction is in part due to the plethora of prescription drugs available, combined with the large amounts of pharmaceutical ads on TV. The prescription drug abuse epidemic is causing many Utahn’s to suffer from addiction, depression, and withdrawals. Utah is also among the top states in the nation for overdose deaths because of the substantial amount of people that are being prescribed prescription drugs. Prescription drugs are being highly overprescribed in Utah which is leading to serious abuse, addiction, and even death while Pharmaceutical companies get rich.
Prescription drug abuse has quickly raised to one of the biggest public health concerns. The problem begins with a person being prescribed a substance to help heal them, but quickly becomes addicted and reliant on the substance. There are many different prescription drugs being abused in Utah. Some of the major ones include: depressants, opioids and morphine derivatives, stimulants, and other compounds (“Commonly Misused”). Many Utahn’s are prescribed depressants and they are commonly misused to help with anxiety, sleep aiding, and also to feel a sense of euphoria and pleasure. Stimulants, when taken incorrectly, can give a person feeling of exhilaration as well as increased concentration and mental alertness. Opioids are one of the most abused substances because they are prescribed to reduce pain among other things. This poses a problem for people that are diagnosed with chronic pain because they have to take them regularly (“Commonly Misused”). It is extremely difficult to not become co-dependent on a substance once it is in a person’s system for so long.
For most people struggling with addiction, once the vicious cycle has started it is almost impossible to quit on their own. However, the shame of being an addict can prevent people from seeking help. Admitting addiction to family, employers, and peers can affect a person’s life drastically which causes many addicts to stay silent about their problem. If an addict attempts to stop taking certain prescription drugs on their own, they experience withdrawals. Some withdrawal symptoms include: anxiety, insomnia, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. In some cases, if an addict attempts to quit on their own, it can be extremely dangerous and even life threatening. Going through rehabilitation is safest at facilities designed to help people through detoxification, or at a hospital (“Opiate and Opioid”). Unfortunately, many people cannot or will not check themselves in to a rehabilitation or detoxification center for a number of reasons. Often times an addict may feel a sense of denial that they cannot overcome this on their own. Other factors include fear of involving their families and confiding that information to their employers. The longer that society takes to aggressively address prescription drug addiction, the more people it will affect.
Prescription drug addiction happens to all types of people, not just the stereotypical troublemaker that is commonly assumed. Average citizens that suffer from chronic pain or other health issues are the majority of people affected by prescription drug addiction. Most people become victims of addiction because they do not realize what is happening to them, before it is too late. Drug overdoses have become the leading cause of injury death in 36 states, including Utah, surpassing motor vehicle-related deaths. Utah ranked fifth highest for drug overdose deaths — at a rate of 21.5 per 100,000 people (“The Facts”). Many of these drug overdoses are caused by prescription drugs. Accidental overdose is only one of the ways that Utahn’s are dying from addiction. In one study, it was shown that people that are prone to impulsivity and who show signs of having high risk behaviors resulting in self-harm, commonly use and abuse substances. “In another survey, persons who reported that they had made a suicide attempt during their lifetime were more likely to have had a depressive disorder, and many also had an alcohol and/or substance abuse disorder” (“Does Alcohol”). If a patient that is already emotionally unbalanced is prescribed a prescription drug, their chances of abusing the drug raise exponentially which can put their lives at further risk.
Citizens in the state of Utah are spending millions of dollars on prescription drugs. This is in part due to the fact that “the U.S. is one of only two countries in the world whose governments allow prescription drugs to be advertised on TV”, which causes the dramatic number of prescription drug consumers (“Big Pharma”). Pharmaceutical companies are making billions of dollars each year off of consumers. Prescription drugs are not always the best or only solution to treat an ailment. People that seek pharmaceutical solutions to their problems, especially after seeing ads, could easily become addicted or subjected to the drugs extreme side effects if they are not cautious. Without conducting significant research and acquiring multiple medical opinions, citizens of Utah find themselves in a potentially life threatening situation.
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“Commonly Misused Prescription Drugs.” The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, 21 Nov. 2013, www.centeronaddiction.org/addiction/commonly-misused-prescription-drugs. Accessed 3 Oct. 2016.
“Does Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Increase the Risk for Suicide?” U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Accessed 5 Nov. 2016.
“The Facts Hurt.” Trust for America’s Health, 2015, healthyamericans.org/reports/injuryprevention15/release.php?stateid=UT. Accessed 3 Oct. 2016.
“NHE Fact Sheet.” Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, 10 Aug. 2016, www.cms.gov/research-statistics-data-and-systems/statistics-trends-and-reports/nationalhealthexpenddata/nhe-fact-sheet.html. Accessed 5 Nov. 2016.
“Opiate and Opioid Withdrawal.” MedlinePlus, 1 Nov. 2016, medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000949.htm. Accessed 5 Nov. 2016