The topic of President Barack Obama’s visit to the East End Family Resource Center in Charleston Wednesday was the massive opioid abuse epidemic taking West Virginia by storm.
Addiction often gets treated like mental illness, as in it doesn’t get treated because it’s not seen as a “real” sickness. Like the President said, if you broke your leg, you would expect to seek treatment for it, why not something that could kill you?
A major part of the problem is the availability of legal prescription opioids. Some doctors overprescribe these medications, which causes other doctors to fear prescribing these medications to patients who actually need them. Pharmacy break-ins targeting cases of opioid medications are not uncommon. A Google search for “WV pharmacy break ins” offers around 42,000 results.
This needs to be tackled from the source. People are making millions of dollars on exploiting addicts, because they know that once hooked, that person is a customer for as long as they are alive, because after a certain point they literally cannot live without a fix.
Take the tobacco industry, for instance. Tobacco companies used to try to target younger audiences in an attempt to secure customers for life.
OxyContin, a seemingly household name in West Virginia, often referred to as “Hillbilly Heroin” for this association, sells on the streets for $1 per milligram. That’s up to $80 a pill for the highest dosage.
Perhaps the most terrifying part of the epidemic is the availability of prescription medications on campus. Just ask around. Your roommate’s friend may have some leftover pain pills from her wisdom teeth extraction, or his friend may have some leftover prescription cough syrup from when she was sick.
What’s even more horrifying is the fact that often times, these students with leftover medications are often willing to resell them and it’s no wonder: Norco, often prescribed to wisdom teeth extraction patients, goes for $5 per pill, according to streetrx.com. With a student’s budget, letting those four unused pills go to waste seems like setting $20 on fire.
This is where we all hold responsibility. Dispose of unused medication properly so it does not fall into the wrong hands. Do not be the hand that tips the first domino. The extra cash is not worth the life at risk.