New Support, True Support
A year ago, I had a hernia repair surgery, which was considered somewhat of a minor procedure. To help with the pain, the doctor prescribed me with oxycodone, a pill that would help with the post-surgery pain. It took only one Google search to discover that oxycodone was a highly-addictive drug with undesirable side effects, making me question if I should have been prescribed it. Upon further research, I found that properly using the medicine for the appropriate time period as I had didn’t bear any long-term consequences; unfortunately, it’s often not the case. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 10.3 million Americans misused prescription opioids in 2018, which is more than the entire population of New York City. Looking further into the epidemic, I found more and more concerning information, tracing back to the origin.
Opioid addiction, which has ravished our country for decades, was birthed from a deadly misconception made by doctors about such prescriptions, alleging they were low risk without any data backing such claims. It didn’t take long before these pills to hit the black market through diversion, as people would sell their prescribed pills to people recreationally using it. In a short period, millions of Americans were addicted to opioids. When the pills’ effects wore off, addicts look to fulfill their craving with something more strong and accessible: heroin.
In the wake of the heroin epidemic, legislators and addicts themselves have been desperately looking for solutions to bring an end to the crisis, all with varying approaches. Out of all the potential resolutions, one stuck out to me: safe injection sites. The idea of these sites is to provide heroin addicts with clean needles and supplies to minimize the danger of using it, as well as having staff on standby with the necessary training to treat users that have overdosed. Along with providing assistance to lessen the danger of the drug, safe injection sites can also serve as a trustworthy place for addicts to go for support, especially if they are looking to quit.
Although the concept has not acquired the support of all, I feel as if it is the most effective option presented thus far. They are just recently being introduced to the United States, and we have yet to see the full effects of these advancements. In reality, there is no perfect answer to an epidemic this wide-scale, but that is no excuse to do nothing. Therefore, I believe that we should institute these sites, and have virtual support for when it is unsafe to do so in person. This could provide us with more insight into why these victims of addiction chose such a self-destructive path, while simultaneously offering them the opportunity to better themselves in whichever way they can handle.The future of the health of America relies on our ability to make gradual positive change by offering a different, more accepting view on addicts who value their safety and well-being. In the end, the enemies aren’t the addicts who are crippled by drug abuse, and we need, as a nation, to offer a more understanding approach to such a deep-rooted issue.