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Isolation driving addiction

Raina Bailey, Op-Ed Writer

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Fentanyl is a drug that you’ve probably never heard of. The white substance is up to 100 times more potent than morphine, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. However, the opioid is sweeping the nation, with a 540 percent increase of fentanyl related deaths from 2013 to 2016.

Slowly but surely, it’s making its way into popular prescription drugs often sold for recreational use like Xanax and Adderall, getting in the hands of teens unaware of its existence, let alone it’s effects.

Several recent deaths in the media have been attributed to the elusive nature of Fentanyl, musicians crossing several generations and genres; Tom Petty and Lil Peep being the most recent. It is believed by investigators that both ingested the drug without knowledge.

This trend of Fentanyl is sweeping the midwest, with Illinois being surrounded by three states (Michigan, Indiana, and Missouri) with alarming rates of deaths involving the drug. Yet, it’s hard to find many sources even acknowledging fentanyl making its way into the mainstream.

Fentanyl, although one of the deadliest and newest drugs plaguing the country, reflects the pattern that has been repeated with drug trends throughout history.

There seems to be a large disparity between the ways of viewing addiction in our media .

On one hand, there seems to be a glamorization of pharmaceuticals- the pain and isolation of addiction is a selling point. On the other hand, there’s a glossing over of the amount of lives being taken from opiods along with a demonization of addicts and their struggles.

There’s a huge issue with how the western world sees addiction and the true nature of it. The root of addiction is isolation.

This could be clearly seen in the Vietnam war, where the rate of heroin use among soldiers was astronomical. There was a very understandable fear that once that the soldiers came back, they would be coming back as heroin addicts.

What they found, however, was nearly all of the soldiers that came back to their families and their jobs, were no longer users. 95 percent of them never touched heroin again. In addition, there wasn’t a report of any of the soldiers going through withdrawal.

This is a clear example of how addiction is not simply caused by trying a drug and becoming addicted to it. There are plenty of steps that lead up to this point, with many of them stemming from environment and psychological makeup.

What leads someone to wonder- why do we treat it as merely a drug issue? Why can’t we see that there’s something wrong with our culture, our society, that’s leading people to becoming dependent on things such as opioids?

I feel as though, in 2018, we need to start seeing addiction in the same light as depression and other mental illnesses. It simply is too common and too prevalent in our country to pretend that there isn’t a problem.

In Canada, they’ve come to terms with the opioid epidemic. Their first supervised injection clinic, which allows users to treat and administer heroin in a safe and medical setting, opened in 2003, and has treated over three million patients, saving thousands of lives.

Too often, we label those with addiction as “junkies”, unworthy of our attention or care. By being open and supportive of those suffering with addiction, we can help save lives.

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Isolation driving addiction