The miracle drug it was called when being introduced into the modern world during the late 19th century. The drug was used for anything from a cold, stomach ache, to dealing with fussy children. Pharmaceutical companies have labeled opioids as a non addictive or harmful combatant to pain. Since then over 50 thousand people have died every year from opioids. Opioids are class of highly addictive substances that include fentanyl, hydrocodone, and oxycontin which can be used recreationally or as a doctor prescribed pain killer. In my family I have seen a lot of addiction and how hard it can make it for oneself and one’s family. Opioids are example of this, due to its highly addictive qualities. Every year more people die from opioids, than car crashes, gun violence, or even breast cancer. The dangerous substance comes from the opioid poppy seed plant, which has been used since the mesopotamian age. Opioids first came to America on the Mayflower where a doctor carried a landium/alcohol mixture in his bag. During the revolutionary war era, opioids were used as a very uncommon pain reliever. Ben Franklin grew poppy plants on his estate due to the drugs coping mechanisms with his severe stomach problems. During the revolutionary war doctors used opium as treatment for soldiers pain. By the civil war a more potent form of the drug, emerged. Morphine a form of opium was used throughout the civil war. It relieved any kind of pain and sickness, and led doctors to overuse the drug on their soldier patients. After the war the use of the drug was booming. Almost everyone was using opium, and it was perfectly legal. Laudanum was used for even coughs and menstrual cramps, and more potent forms were used to fight termpurculussus. Mrs. Winslow’s Syrup a popular product marketed to mothers, was a alcohol, morphine mixture given to hyperactive kids that was a “harmless, and safe” way to help your children fall asleep. This was one of many patent medicines that contained opium and was completely legal. These patent medicines claimed to cure a long list of ailments, and were called “cure alls” although had no evidence of helping anything. Cocaine was put in wine bottles as a cure for digestive problems. Now a day illegal drugs were given to children and pregnant women off the shelfs of drug stores. During this time, opioids were the only alternative to pain, and little people knew about the addictive qualities. In the 1890’s a german pharmaceutical company, Bayer developed a heroin cough suppressant given to children.
During the late 1990’s doctors and pharmaceutical companies boosted the use of the drug for pain management. A video created by a pharmaceutical company was played in almost every doctors office waiting room in America. “They don’t wear out; they go on working; they do not have serious medical side effects,” a doctor featured in the video said. “So, these drugs, which I repeat, are our best, strongest pain medications, should be used much more than they are for patients in pain.” This video was played in over 15,000 waiting room throughout the country. A year later the amount of patients rose 11 million. Purdue Pharma the company that produced the video was charged with misbranding of the drug and the misrepresentation of it’s highly addictive qualities. Later in during the year 2000, Purdue Pharma, released a book required for doctors to read as part of becoming a doctor, which stated that there is no evidence that there is addiction in patients who use opioids, and that doctors concerns about addiction side effects were “inaccurate and over exaggerated.” Opioids in America are now one of the biggest problems in United States history. Currently in the United States there are over 2 million people are using the drug, with more lives being taken by Opioids every year than all of the Vietnam war. Due to the highly addictive qualities of opioids, nearly 30% of patients misuse the drug. Often patients using the drug on prescribed doses still become hooked on the drug. After being hooked on the drug, more than 5% of patients turn to Cocaine and Fentanyl as a cheaper and more potent alternative to soothe their addiction. Currently in America, opioids are an crises. The United States has begun to develop methadone clinics where addicts can use a form of the drug, and be more normal in society. This way people can slowly ease off the drug, and be without being malevolent in society. Currently in America the war on drugs is failing. People will still use the drug despite its illegal nature and dangerous effects. Instead of punishing people for their drug use, the government should use that money and energy for helping addicts. Making drugs legal would be a risky, but effective plan for America. In Portugal drug use has dropped dramatically since making all drugs legal in the early 2000’s. People are offered therapy and clean needles, instead of jail sentences. When someone is found with or using the drug, they are sent to get help, by a phycologist, legal advisor, and a social worker. They are put on a treatment plan instead of sent to jail. As well other countries have used different methods to pain management that have been very effective. With doctors over prescribing opioids, a alternative to opioids is in order. Weather that is using natural alternatives or less potent drugs other than opioids.
Daley, John. “Pain Management Program Offers An Alternative To Opioids.” NPR, NPR, 29Dec.2017,www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/12/29/567525861/pain-management-clinic-offers-an-alternative-to-opioids.
Lyapustina, Tatyana. “The Prescription Opioid Addiction and Abuse Epidemic: How It Happened and What We Can Do about It.” Pharmaceutical Journal, 11 June 2015, www.pharmaceutical-journal.com/opinion/comment/the-prescription-opioid-addiction-and-abuse-epidemic-how-it-happened-and-what-we-can-do-about-it/20068579.article.
Moghe, Sonia. “Opioids: From ‘Wonder Drug’ to Abuse Epidemic.” CNN, Cable News Network, 14 Oct. 2016,
Katz, Josh, and Abby Goodnough. “The Opioid Crisis Is Getting Worse, Particularly for Black Americans.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 22 Dec. 2017, www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/12/22/upshot/opioid-deaths-are-spreading-rapidly-into-black-america.html.
Kessler, David A. “How to Fight the Opioid Crisis.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 10 Jan. 2018, www.nytimes.com/2018/01/10/opinion/fight-opioid-crisis.html.