“That’s what drugs and alcohol will do to you. It’ll take you places you can’t imagine.” – Ronald Heirs (a former opioids and heroin addict).
Since the early 2000s, America has been going through a drug abuse epidemic, and it has continued to eat deep into every nook and cranny killing both teenagers and adults. Many people like Ronald Heirs want to be taken to places they can’t imagine, as a result they become dependent on the drug-induced feeling of pleasure.
Most people become addicts by first using medically prescribed drugs as prescribed. Opioid, which is commonly abused in America, is a drug that subdues pain, therefore, it is prescribed as a painkiller for people who are going through physical pain. It could be victims of accidents or someone with severe back pain. What opioid does is to make the person feel less pain, however, it also enables and overworks the reward cells in the brain hence making the person feel pleasure so much they get high from it. Some people manage well and stop using the drug after they get over the pain, but some people are vulnerable to the feeling of pleasure – they want to continue using opioid even though they have no medical reasons to keep using it. This is how addiction starts.
Tennessee is the third-ranking state for prescription drug abuse with opioids such as Vicodin, and Oxycodone, being the most abused. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation speculates that 80% of the state’s crime is as a result of drugs. Additionally, Memphis, TN has made it to the list of America’s top 10 dangerous cities based on crime rate every year since 2014.
The health care sector along with drug enforcement agencies and the government decided that it is best to reduce the use of opioids in the state to fight this epidemic. In contrast to seeing positive results in the state, we hear of cases like Ron Heirs and his wife, Carla Heirs, who were both found in the public in Memphis overdosed on heroin. Opioids addicts who can no longer access or afford opioid opt for the more available and cheap alternatives such as fentanyl and heroin. The problem with going for the non-regulated cheap opioid is that they tend to be stronger than medical opioid because they are semisynthetic.
If Ron and Carla Heirs had been left alone while they couldn’t even get up from the floor, they would have died, because opioid overdose is quick and deadly. Opioid overdose makes the victim numb, they won’t be able to do anything, and if no one is available to help the victim when overdosed, the victim may never survive.
To tackle this problem, Memphis, TN is one of the volunteer cities in the country that uses Narcan to reverse the effects of opioid overdose. Narcan is also an opioid drug, but it is a long-acting opiate agonist. The drug is an emergency drug that can be administered to anyone who has overdosed on an opioid as a first aid before being attended to by a medical professional. It has been made easily accessible in Memphis.
Addiction is a disease that requires all hands on deck to combat the epidemic.