To the Editor:
On July Fourth, millions of Americans will come together to celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence, an historic testimonial against oppression that still inspires people around the world.
Today, millions of Americans are confronting another kind of oppression — opioid addiction.
At Relievus, we see the effects of this horrible epidemic every day. It has destroyed families, ruined lives and even led to an historic decrease in lifespan among sectors of the U.S. population.
According to recent reports, in 2016, 11.5 million people misused prescription opioids, while over 42,000 died from an opioid overdose. Roughly 40 percent of those deaths involved a prescription opioid. But the impact isn’t limited to opioid abusers. Another report puts the economic impact of each opioid overdose death at approximately $800,000.
It’s important to understand that people who abuse opioids are not weak or inferior. They simply are people trying to deal with their pain. Eventually this pain becomes difficult to manage until it begins affecting their quality of life.
Weaning patients off opioids is an important step. But managing pain takes an intense, multi-faceted approach. Most need social support, behavioral therapy and/or individual counseling. They cannot do it alone. It will take a united and coordinated front.
On this Fourth of July, let us reignite the spirit of American courage and community. Let us work to create a new dawn of independence from the oppression caused by the abuse of opioids and other drugs.
— Young Lee, MD, Havertown