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The Opioid Epidemic in America
Are we doing enough?
“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life
An electric word life that means forever and that’s a mighty long time
But I’m here to tell you there’s something else… the afterworld
A world of never ending happiness, you can always see the sun, day or night
And when you call up that shrink in Beverly Hills, you know the one, doctor make you feel all right,
Instead of asking him how much of your mind is left ask him how much of your time is left cause in this
Life, things are much harder in the afterworld, in this life, you’re on your own
And if the elevator starts to bring you down….”
Lyrics from “Let’s go crazy”
By now every Prince fan has come to realize how eerie those words are now that he was found dead in his elevator at his Paisley Park compound. Art has a way of imitating life. His was no different. The reign of 30 years plus of music comes to an end because of an addiction to an opioid painkiller. He was given a powerful medication known as Fentanyl to treat chronic pain he was in from back surgery that he had back in 2000. It is said to be 100 times more powerful than heroin and morphine and law enforcement has discovered that drug abusers are mixing Fentanyl with heroin. Fentanyl is a synthetic drug created in the 1960’s that is often times used to treat cancer patients dealing with pain. The only drawback to this drug is that it can kill you if taken in the wrong dosses. It’s not certain if it was a doctor who gave it to him or if it was obtained illegally but law enforcement will get involved in the investigation. The FDA often times issues warnings about certain drugs and this one is no different. It issued a warning stating that deaths from Fentanyl were up by 900 deaths last year alone. Politicians and world leaders are now scrambling to find a way to tackle this ever growing epidemic before it tragically takes more lives.
Congress and the President quickly went into action but all they can do is pass laws. It was suggested that a national database be created so those patients caught “doctor” shopping will be identified quickly and prevented from getting more medication. The other powerful drug that was supposedly used to bring Prince back to life after a previous overdose is supposed to be more readily available to doctors to combat this problem (naloxone).
How easily obtained is fentanyl? It is difficult to obtain but like the street manufacturers of crack cocaine they have also found ways to synthesize a cheaper Fentanyl. How hazardous is Fentanyl? When the DEA goes in to do drug seizures they have to wear hazmat suits to do it. There is very little doubt that there is a drug abuse problem in America. American’s are self-medicating themselves to avoid other things going around them. More tragic deaths will happen unless another way can be found to deal with this epidemic.
What can be done to combat the ever widening problem of opiate addiction? It seems some of the intervention programs already taking place are working. These are in the forms of media programs and news blitzes on the nationwide epidemic. The government simply pouring millions of dollars into programs may not be enough. Society will have to start tackling the problem of addiction by looking inward towards itself as to why people are taking these drugs. Many people who don’t abuse drugs know that those who do are self-medicating the pain away. This is just a temporary fix, families need to start getting more involved with each other if this problem is to change. Changes will also have to be made in how pain management is done. Doctors are aware of alternative Eastern treatments such as acupuncture or even physical therapy. Doctors will have to keep closer tabs on patients who are on powerful opioids so accidents like this don’t happen and better educate their patients on the dangers of opioids. It’s sad that deaths like Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson and Prince have to make us stand up and realize that there is a problem.
Below is a video from "The Arsenio Hall show" in which he appeared on. Watch Prince's reaction when Arsenio asks, "What if you weren't Prince?"