Perhaps it's because I work as a Registered Nurse and come face-to-face with the crisis daily that it troubles me. Perhaps its because I see first hand Physicians over prescribing opioid painkillers and know the pressure they receive from drug companies, medical organizations, government agencies, and pain patient advocates to prescribe even more.
It could be my awareness that many of my patients suffering with chronic pain have crossed over to heroin abuse after getting hooked on over prescribed painkillers.
There's a great possibility though that it's none of the above. I believe what really gets to me is that I know first hand how drug addiction can permanently alter the lives of the addicted and their loved ones. So with every over prescribed opioid I administer to my patients I secretly mourn my personal loss.
In the mid 70's when suburbanites were casually singing the words to the popular Simon & Garfunkel song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" which hinted to the proliferation of heroine use, my urban family was in the midst of crossing a troubled bridge of our own, leaving us without a father. In spite of my fathers often absence; (physically, emotionally and spiritually) his death in a Detroit crack house sealed the coffin of my childhood hopes for him; for us. Today's drug crisis is quite different.
Today drug addiction and overdose deaths are effecting white Americans more frequently than Blacks and Latinos. One reason for this disparity according to one recent report is that "doctors are more reluctant to prescribe painkillers to minorities, because doctors mistakenly believe that minority patients feel less pain or are more likely to misuse and sell drugs.
Regardless of whom is more effected; we are all in this together and we had entered a new age where in some states, doctors have filled out more painkiller prescriptions than there are people. Anti-anxiety drugs are involved in the increase of addiction and drug overdoses as well. Xanax and Valium are leading many to their grave.
I'm sure that the answer to the current crisis in the U.S. is complex and multi-faceted. However, one question keeps coming back to me; it is the same question I asked the day I visited my father laying in intense care with his bullet riddled head swollen to the size of a basketball. Why Is Everybody "Snowed"?