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   Facing An Epidemic Head On


Throughout history we have been graced with medical discoveries that have eliminated disease, prolonged life and changed the way we live.  I can't imagine what it would have been like living in a time when a simple infection might result in someone's death.  I am grateful that I don't have to consider that option.   Very few epidemics still exist from illness, however we have opened the door to a different type of epidemic.  It's what happens when medical discovery comes face to face with big business, or more specifically Big Pharma

  

 What's In It For Me?


Social media and traditional media are all concerned about the Opioid epidemic in North America.  The numbers of people dying or using opioids is staggering.  I read somewhere that the number of people dying from opioid use in the United States has surpassed the number of people dying in car accidents.   How did this happen?  How did we let this happen? 

For some reason medical practitioners still wield incredible power to convince people about the safety of using particular products.  Years ago the manufacturers of the first powerful opioids convinced physicians that drugs such as Percocet were okay for more than acute pain.   It was safe to use them for chronic pain situations.   The suspecting public trusted their physicians who readily prescribed these medications.   Now, big pharma advertises directly to consumers advocating the use of their medications.  It is a business built on profit margins and the more users, the bigger the profits. 





It Became Too Easy


The other day I was cleaning out our medicine cabinet and discovered a prescription my daughter had been given after she had her wisdom teeth out.   It was for 24 Percocet.  I opened the bottle and counted the pills and happily counted 24.   That meant that my daughter didn't use a single pill.  If memory serves correctly I believe she took a few extra strength Tylenol.   This prescription was written before people knew there was a problem, a time when it was still common practice to write out this type of prescription.   I have since brought the unused medication to our local pharmacy to dispose of but wondered about the other people who took the Percocet.   How many people became addicted?  

 

 A First Step

 It's not always easy to know what to do when confronted with the situation of addiction, but there are things we can all do. First, clean out your medicine cabinet.   Don't let someone accidentally stumble upon unused medication that might open a Pandora's box.  Find out where you can safely bring these medications in your community.   Second talk to your family about the dangers of opioids and alternative options to pain treatment.  Last, and most importantly is advocate for yourself.  Don't let a physician's  best intent put you in harm's way.   You have a voice and the best knowledge about your body.  Use them both .