FEATURE — Most people have seen the news coverage about the “opioid epidemic” and the real crisis facing society today.
There is a common misconception that drug addicts are all undesirables littering the streets, homeless shelters and soup kitchens. Though this common stereotype can hold some truth, the crisis of addiction has hit much closer to home. This issue is now at our front door. Our parents, children, neighbors and close friends, the people we love the most, now face addiction.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, over 64,000 deaths were caused by opioid overdoses alone in 2016, yet in 1999 the number of deaths was under 20,000. In less than a 10-year period, overdose deaths from opioids alone have more than tripled. These numbers are shocking to say the least.
This increase leaves us wondering not only who or what to blame but more importantly, where people can get addiction help in Southern Utah.
There is a fundamental problem with how drug use is portrayed in our society. That being said, I’m not here advocating for alcohol prohibition again; however, from my own experience as a recovering addict, I’ve been able to recognize a trend that may be fueling addiction today.
From media to music, advertisements to universities and colleges, the party “lifestyle” can be seen almost everywhere. It is my belief this sets a precedent in society today. There’s nothing wrong with having a good time responsibly, yet the “responsible” aspect of even alcohol use is, in my opinion, overlooked.
Yes, we do have laws against public intoxication and drunk driving, but I think society as a whole is very flirtatious with substances of an intoxicating nature. I would go as far as to say that partying in any variety is put on a pedestal as the only means of enjoyment.
I’ve shared similar opinion with recovering addicts about how we were unsure how to enjoy ourselves in life without substances being present. I think this accurately illustrates the overall problem: an egregious emphasis on a culture of intoxication. I’m not here to take your good time away. I am simply here to say there is more to life than getting “wasted.”
As a society, I think we need to take a harder look at the influence of how substance use is portrayed. In my experience, being just shy of five years substance-free, there’s plenty of life to live without it.
For anyone in the medical profession, my point here is not to attack you or your colleagues; I sincerely appreciate anyone who works in the medical field. However, it is my opinion that opiate prescriptions are given out too often and without the appropriate information on how addictive and habit-forming they can be.
Today, most prescription cough syrup recommended by a doctor contains opiates. Maybe I am naive, but I don’t remember ever getting codeine cough syrup as teenager when I had bronchitis.
I’ve been prescribed opiates multiple times in my life from injuries due to an active lifestyle. I may have lapses in memory; however, I am quite confident doctors never really took the time to explain to me how addictive and dangerous these opiate medications are.
This leaves me to draw a correlation between the rising number of opiate deaths and how quickly these addictive medications are used in common medical practice. Plain and simple, it is easy to get a prescription for opiates, that’s it. I’m not here to point a finger or say anyone is to blame. We need to start a conversation about how truthfully addictive and dangerous these medications are.
Connections… or lack thereof
It’s believed by both medical professionals and recovering addicts that another primary cause of addiction is lack of connection. Isolated from our peers, family and friends, our brains tend to latch onto anything that fills the void of genuine human connection. Unfortunately when we latch onto intoxicating substances, a bad habit can easily manifest into a death sentence.
Humans are social beings. One would think in today’s day and age with the birth of social media we would be brought closer together. But sadly, this isn’t the case. Addiction overdose and suicide rates continue to rise dramatically. Every day more people are feeling desperately alone. Without connection or community, they reach out in the wrong ways and sometimes with lethal solutions.
Unfortunately, when combined with the emphasis in our society on partying culture, connection with others isn’t easy without “going out for a drink.” It’s almost a double-edged sword in the sense that we need connections with others in life, yet the most socially promoted activity among adults revolves around consumption of substances.
Treatment is available
Given all of these factors so prevalent in our culture, there is a growing need for treatment.
As an illustration of this need, Lion’s Gate Recovery, a private substance abuse treatment facility, has expanded to Cedar City within a year of opening its doors in St. George.
Beds are filling up and the demand for quality treatment continually rises as addicts fight an uphill battle.
Whether you believe addiction is a disease or choice is irrelevant in my opinion. We have a crisis, or an epidemic, or whatever you want to call it. Our friends at Lion’s Gate Recovery will tell you this is a lifelong fight, not only for the addict but their family as well. Even when an addict gets clean and stays clean for a long period of time, there’s always that chance of relapse.
This is why quality treatment is crucial and why Lion’s Gate Recovery is in the business of saving lives.
About Lion’s Gate Recovery
Lion’s Gate Recovery is a private substance abuse treatment facility with outpatient locations in St. George and Cedar City and a residential facility in Toquerville.
The new Cedar City location can be found at 535 S. Main St., Suite 2.
The facility’s program focuses on four key components to addiction recovery: physical recovery, psychological recovery, social recovery and spiritual recovery.
The dedicated staff at Lion’s Gate Recovery believes that the key to successful addiction recovery is about overcoming more than just the physical addiction to the substance.
Anyone who is struggling with substance addiction or those who have loved ones who are struggling should call 866-498-7890 in Cedar City or 866-471-9476 in St. George. The telephone lines are open 24/7.
Written by SHANE CURRIN, a recovering addict, for Lion’s Gate Recovery.
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