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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Katona

The Opioid Crisis isn't called a crisis for nothing

Updated: Feb 24, 2019

Why is it that the United States consumes 85% of the world's opiates, yet we seem to be the most out of touch with this epidemic reality?

The opioid crisis isn't slowing down, if anything, it's gathering speed. Treating this epidemic will take time; first there must be an awakening to the man-made hole we've sunken ourselves into.

Sandy Dettman, M.D. of Grand Rapids, Michigan says that "the U.S. represents 4.4 percent of the 7.1 billion people in the world, yet the United States consumes nearly 90 percent of the world's opiate supply." Is this surprising? To many Americans, growing up in a suburban, middle class neighborhood, this would be shocking. The strategy that most families employ to protect themselves from America's drug problems is to pretend they are not happening. The parents will deny, deny, deny, until the time comes when it's impossible to ignore reality any longer. This reality is usually discovered by a sudden drug bust at a school, or local teen overdosing within the community. Afterwards, people will say, "Oh my goodness, I never would've thought this could happen HERE" or perhaps "That was just Johnny, Johnny was always a bad kid. That won't happen to my family." Unfortunately, odds are, it will.

Where does the colossal rise in the misuse of opioids stem from? Beginning in the 1990s, pharmaceutical companies put out reports stating that the drugs they were providing for painkillers were non-addictive, and that the medical community could rest easy. As a result, more and more painkillers were prescribed until doctors begin to notice that they were not only addictive, but highly addictive.

Every day, 130 Americans die from opioid overdose, which is the number one killer of Americans under age 50. 1.7 million Americans are frequent users of opioids.

With these facts in mind, it's time to make a change. Opioid substance abuse should be seen as a public health issue, not an issue to deal with privately.

We need new medications to treat opioid addictions.

We need a system better established to not stigmatize addiction, but to accept it as a problem that can be cured.

However, most of all, there needs to be a new treatment suggestion for chronic pain besides highly addictive substances.

Thank You.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Opioid Overdose Crisis.” NIDA,, 22 Jan. 2019,

Tinker, Ben. “These States Have Been Hit the Hardest by America's Opioid Epidemic.” CNN, Cable News Network, 22 Feb. 2019,

Woodward, Chris. “'Non-Addictive' Drugs Fueled a National Crisis.”, 27 Mar. 2018,

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