America, we are at war with a silent killer. This menace lurks in the shadows in every corner of our country, claiming more lives than gun violence and car accidents. We stare it in the face each day, unknowing of its deadly nature. Our enemy is prescription drugs and overdose.
When we think about overdose, the average American immediately thinks of substances like heroin or cocaine. Rarely do we consider the medications that lie in our own cabinets. If we do, the picture is often stereotypical: a desperate, suicidal young girl downing a bottle of pills in a purposeful attempt to kill herself. Those assumptions are more than wrong- they’re lethal. We must remember that just because something is technically legal doesn’t mean it is safe.
Here’s an interesting fact: the population on the continental United States only comprises of five percent of the world’s population- yet we consume upward of 75 percent of all manufactured prescription drugs. It’s a shocking juxtaposition, begging the question: why?
Is it because we are among the wealthiest countries in the world, therefore more able to treat our illnesses with medication? Is it because we rely more heavily on scientific breakthroughs as compared to countries that still utilize holistic healing? Is it because we are more intelligent that other countries, thereby using more precautionary treatments to reduce the risk of disease?
Americans experience more prescription drug overdoses than any other country in the world because we have a problem. Our doctors haphazardly diagnose and prescribe medications without doing thorough research. We mill out pills like candy, never mind the consequences. With just a little clever maneuvering you can access enough powerful painkillers to kill several grown men- and it does. Every day prescription opioid abuse kills but that’s okay as long as it’s not you… until it is you.
Our pharmaceutical companies make billions off of known addictive substances, staving off symptoms but providing no lasting relief. They are silent in the face of addiction because it is their cash cow. They make medications that take the edge off the pain but never any antidotes to the cravings for their best selling poison opioids. Sure, 16 year old David isn’t in any more pain from his leg injury but the 20 years he’ll spend abusing Vicodin will ruin his life.
We aren’t more ill, we’re just more addicted with more money to buy more pills. If we don’t start holding the medical and pharmaceutical companies accountable for their part in the overwhelming prescription drugs abuse epidemic the number of dead will only keep rising. It’s time we do something about it.