Last week’s blog was on the opioid crisis and what is happening in our society where drug addiction has increased by large percentages over the last 10 years. We blame large drug companies, physicians, hospitals and of course dealers of illegal drugs, for the rise in deaths and addiction but as in any other social woe, the entire blame isn’t always on someone else.
Each one of us has an obligation to ourselves and to our children. We can blame television and video games for childhood obesity, but we need to realize that kids are not literally tied to these things. Sports, outdoor play, and parental involvement in both diet and exercise can easily prevent kids from going down that road.
Disrespect and intolerance are learned behaviors. If your children hear you speaking dismissively or rudely about a community leader, a person of another nationality or religion, or even a teacher who you don’t agree with, they think its acceptable. The example we, and the other adults in their lives, set will be with them for a lifetime. This also goes along with how we deal with the hardships we face in life. If we use avoidance, anger or substance abuse to get us through the tough times, those around us are likely to do the same.
Some drug use is unavoidable. If you are in a serious accident or have a major surgery, opioid medications are a necessity but we have to understand, sometimes you cannot be pain free. Pain is a warning. So many things such as leaks after abdominal surgery or infections in surgical sites, are missed because patients are too “drugged” to notice that something is not as it should be. In the hospital, patients need to be weaned quickly off these medications and the symptoms causing the pain need to be dealt with. Ice packs, heating pads, elevation and anti-inflammatories are all non-addictive ways to deal with pain.
In the medical world, especially the ER, we are so worried about “patient satisfaction surveys”, we give out scripts because they are expected, not because they are actually necessary. This is where a good portion of young adults get their first taste of narcotics.
Watch your children, especially the teens and early twenties. If they are injured, stay involved. They may be legally adults, but still have little knowledge of how medicine works and can often end up trusting someone they shouldn’t. Talk about drugs from the time they are small. Discuss stories in the news. Ask questions about the medical care they are receiving and talk to a trusted medical person in your life who understands what should be happening, compared to what is.
In the end, the responsibility is ours. We need to learn that we cannot always be pain free. Sometimes pain is there to tell us something is wrong, or it is short lived. Discard unused medications instead of holding on to them, be careful where you keep them (not the medicine cabinet), educate your kids and realize that just because these meds are given to you, it does not mean you have to take them.
- Paulozzi LJ, Strickler GK, Kreiner PW, Koris CM, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).. Controlled Substance Prescribing Patterns--Prescription Behavior Surveillance System, Eight States, 2013. MMWR Surveill Summ. 2015 Oct 16;64(9):1-14. PubMed PMID: 26469747