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  • Josh Regel

My perspective on the opioid epidemic

Is there a problem?

I am sure you are aware that there is an opioid epidemic out there and many are overdosing and some are dying.  Overdosing is not a new problem.  So why is this topic being talked about so much?  Is there something new going on or is this one of those things the media has overblown?

In my opinion, this problem is getting worse and this subject is not getting reported enough.  I am sure many of you have heard reports or you may know of a family that has been affected by a drug overdose.  My intention in writing this is to help make you aware of the problem and understand what you can do to help prevent this problem from directly affecting your family.

The reports that I have read are putting the blame on the easily accessible medications that are sitting in your medicine cabinet right now.  Many of us have had dental work or minor surgery and an opioid was prescribed for pain.  Even a medication that is years beyond it’s expiration date can still be effective.  Your teenager or young adult may not be the one to take the medications out of your medicine cabinet but did you think about friends and relatives that come to visit?  You probably would not even know the medication was gone.

A few years back the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) made one of the most common pain medications (Lortab, Vicodin, Hydrocodone) a schedule 2 medication.  This change made these medications a lot more difficult to get on the street.  So the supply of medication was not meeting the demand.  This forced the price “on the street” to go up for these illegal medications.  What the drug dealers saw was an opportunity.  This opportunity was by lowering the price of another opioid that was plentiful and easily smuggled in they could profit more.  That opioid is heroin.  When I first thought about it I asked myself “who would decide to take heroin?”  Many make this decision for several reasons, the price of the prescription opioids, the availability and the higher high from a stronger opioid.  Also, there are many names that heroin goes by and often times individuals don’t know that they are taking heroin.

For $5 to $10 you can get a dose of heroin.  Heroin is 3 times more powerful than morphine and will cause a pronounced high (euphoria).  So, for many, this is a perfect solution to their addiction.  Cheaper and more powerful.

The latest reports indicate that some of the heroin on the street is being mixed with another opioid that is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine.  This opioid is called fentanyl.  Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is used in cancer pain and other chronic pain situations.  It is usually dosed in a slow release patch.  When snorted along with heroin the effect is immediate and can be deadly.  There is no way for someone to tell if their heroin has fentanyl in it.

So the reason I think that we are seeing more overdoses is the individual is addicted to prescription pain medications first.  Then there is a need for a cheaper version that gives a higher high.  Then the addicted person unknowingly takes a heroin/fentanyl combination and overdoses.

What can you do to avoid being apart of this epidemic?

Get rid of your old pain medications.  You can drop off medications at area locations for disposal.  Click here to find out were you these facilities are located.

Do your part and dispose of these medications.  These medications in the wrong hands can affect you or your loved one for a lifetime.

Did you know that the compounding pharmacists at Regel Pharmalab can help you control your chronic pain?  If you have uncontrolled chronic pain and would like me to review your story, give me a call or send me a message.  You can reach me (901) 757-9434 or  I look forward to helping you with your pain and possibly reduce the amount of pain medications that is required for your pain.

Comment below on other ways to help prevent opioid addiction.


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