Name: Natalia Rivera
From: Tempe , Arizona
The Silent Killer
The Silent Killer
Just take a Vicodin. You will feel better. A Percocet will do the trick. Prescription opioids are indeed a silent killer. For the last decade, a opioids have invaded society. Prescriptions for painkillers have increased substantially. Whether through lazy doctor write ups or self induced suggestions, pills are easier than ever to get your hands on. Many medications have switched from over the counter to being available in the drugstore aisles, with no supervision. Social media has normalized “pill popping”. Outlets such as TikTok and Instagram display videos of young tweens pretending to rip the white top of an orange container and swallow the contents. Popular songs are now laced with allusions to “percs” and “oxy”. These upward trends alone are frightening. What causes a greater knot in my stomach however is how this sneaky practice has directly affected my life.
Within the last decade, a friend of mine died. He was a young man in his early twenties. Prior to his sudden death, he was touring the world with a theater troupe. He had a steady girlfriend. The relationship with his parents was at a peak, it had never been better. He was happy and free. The stars were within his reach. However, he was addicted to opioids. One night, after some light partying, he mixed his over the counter opioids with other powerful substances. Within minutes, he was having uncontrollable seizures on the floor. By the time he was taken to the hospital, it was too late. My friend had died. Upon receiving the news, I dropped everything and embarked on a cross country journey to his home state. I met with his family. We reminisced. We cried. We enjoyed each others company. The funeral in fact was a beautiful ceremony. The worst part of the weekend was the cremation process. It was fairly quick. Only a matter of minutes. Few people were there. My mind was fuzzy from the fast pace of the last 72 hours and my heart was aching. Someone I once shared memories with, was about to become a pile of ashes. I was in shock and still refused to believe he was really gone. It wasn’t until I saw his parents that everything became real. They had raised their child with little restriction and an unfathomable love. However, it was they who pressed the red button. Literally. No one knew how to comfort these parents. We couldn’t. None of the guests at the intimate ceremony had ever lost a son, their only son, to an overdose. Much less did they cremate their child. I tried to ignore the gray smoke swirling above us. The noise was deafening, but it didn’t matter. The image that will forever haunt me however, is witnessing his parents. After starting the cremation process, they both chocked sobs. Their hands were interlaced in a grip that no instrument or tool could pry open. Their expressions were twisted and contorted in such a way that made me wince. Loud sobs choked the saliva in their mouths. I watched in horror and absolute misery as they both slumped to the floor. While my watery eyes kept averting to his parents, they never turned away from the viewing window. Those two minutes of sheer agony still haunt my memory today. It will never go away.
Thankfully, I am relieved to know that there are solutions to the ever growing drug epidemic. Emphasizing natural remedies for illnesses or ailments is a good direction that we are already heading on. Essential oils, herbal supplements, hot drinks, natural creams, forms of physical therapy, exercise, are tried true methods that are increasing in popularity. Just as often as I hear of people over relying on opioids and over the counter addictive substances, I also hear another conversation with natural suggestions instead. Also, mental health is no longer a stigma. Therapy and self care are not only okay to talk about, however it is encouraged to explore. Rehab facilities are no longer establishments that discredit reputations and destroy fame.
While the drug epidemic still worries me, I know there is hope. We as humans have an extraordinary ability to overcome challenges. Regardless of the scope of the problem, we learn to dance with bear so to speak. With new technology and advancements in the fields of psychology and therapy, the sky is the limit when it comes to treating health issues. I am confident that we will prevail against the fight with drugs. Humans after all, are not as bad as the internet likes to point out. Sometimes, we can do good too.