They said it wasn’t a gateway drug
My homie was takin’ subs and he ain’t wake up
The whole while, these billionaires, they kicked up
Paying out congress so we take their drugs
-Lyrics from “Drug Dealer” by Macklemore
From the lyrics of this Macklemore song, it is pretty easy to see what point he is getting out and it is one that I relate to deeply because my first drug dealer was a doctor. That might not be fair to the doctor because he was only doing his job, but the fact remains that my addiction started with legal and prescribed drugs. The fact is that there are extremely strong medications that are legally prescribed and at this point, they are becoming huge contributors to the overdose deaths that are happening across the country. Contributors include the dangerous drug Fentanyl, as well as the animal tranquilizer carfentanil. Both are feeding the rapidly escalating overdose deaths from opiates.
When I was in high school I was diagnosed with ADHD and so like many kids from my generation I was given Adderall. The Adderall really did do the trick. It helped me to focus in school, and allowed me to calm down some and sat seated for longer periods of time. But what the doctor didn’t know is that I also had a pretty severe eating disorder and a predisposition to drug addiction, and so prescribing me powerful stimulants at such an early age was a recipe for disaster.
This is something that we have seen time and time again in this country, powerful drugs come onto the US markets and then since they are legal and can be acquired by a doctor, we believe that they are safe. We believe that physicians would never prescribe us something that could possibly harm us and before we are aware of what is happening, we are addicted. Many times the physicians themselves are only going off of the information that they have, and like in the case of Oxycontin in the mid-90s, the information they received was faulty.
Purdue Pharma released Oxycontin to US markets in the mid-90s under the guise that it was a safer and less addictive alternative to traditional opiates. What we found out, later on, is that none of this was true and the drug was not only a gateway into the hell of opiate addiction, but that it was possibly more addictive than other opiates. Purdue Pharma actually had to pay $600 million in fines because of their misleading the general public, but yet the damage had already been done and irrevocable so.
What Purdue Pharma did, gave way to the opioid epidemic that we currently see running rampant through this country, which resulted in the death of 47,055 people in 2014 alone. It has lead to thousands, if not millions, of people being introduced to opioids that would not have otherwise touched the drug. Many of these people were simply attempting to deal with chronic pain or an injury of some sort but once the drug entered into their system, they were unable to get off, leading some to try more illicit drugs like heroin.
The opioid epidemic reached a boiling point this past year, which lead President Obama to finally address the nation about what we can do as a country in order to try to curb this problem. In May he met with rapper Macklemore, a person who is in recovery from opioid abuse, and the two recorded a Public Service Announcement on the dangers of opioid abuse and how we need to address the problem and stigmas attached to drug addiction in this country.
The two addressed the fact that the drug laws in this nation are arcane and outdated and have done nothing but build up the largest prison industrial complex in the free world, housing non-violent drug offenders for years at a time. They discussed how we have criminalized addiction in this country and have turned a blind eye to the fact that it is an illness and not a moral deficiency.
Their address to the nation was followed by the swift passing of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, which was voted into Law this past summer, under the hopes of finally addressing addiction in this country in a logical and humane context. The CARA bill looks to get more funding for treatment and to reduce prison sentences for nonviolent drug offenders, getting them help rather than incarceration.
Now the two have gotten together again for an MTV documentary, which aired Tuesday, October 11th, titled Prescription for Change: Ending America’s Opioid Crisis. The documentary is meant as a way of continuing the conversation that Macklemore and President Obama started back in May and it is seen as a glimmer of hope in the opioid problem facing this country.
Usually, with topics such as addiction, there is a great stir created and then once the public’s attention span has reached its limit, it is put on the back burner or deemed a problem solved. With Macklemore at the helm and with the support of the POTUS, this will hopefully not be the case and we will continue to drive forward as a nation into a real conversation about what we can do.
We will hopefully begin to address the fact that large pharmaceutical companies protect their interests by buying politicians and their best interests often mean the death of thousands of people. We will hopefully begin to address the fact that, whether it is stated outright or not, the general public despises addicts and believe they get what they deserve when they die. And we will hopefully begin to get help to people who cannot seem to help themselves.
I believe we are poised for a change in this country and with the rash of deaths this past summer caused by fentanyl-laced heroin throughout the country, people are starting to see just how much of a problem addiction is. I for one and ready to see this change as I no longer want to bury friends needlessly and I no longer want to hear about people I care about going to jail for an illness they cannot control. Addiction is a complicated issue, especially on a societal level, but I believe we are up to the task of doing a better job as a nation.
Rose Lockinger is a passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.