Columns, Opinion

Burke’s Bully Pulpit: OxyContin makers rightfully blamed for opioid epidemic

It’s safe to say that we all have someone in our lives who has been touched by the U.S. opioid crisis. We are all left wondering how to deal with having a sizable part of the population hooked on something that can grab you by the throat and strangle the life out of you.

The creator of OxyContin, Purdue Pharma, has taken steps to counteract the withdrawal symptoms that patients have when they try to wean off of an opioid. It’s hilariously ironic that this company thinks that anyone who has ever been serious about going sober would use a product developed by the people that got them hooked in the first place. It’s liking living in a completely backward fantasy land where some magical being controls what drugs you take to stay happy and healthy.

Recently, Colorado’s attorney general has sued Purdue for having a “significant role” in the opioid epidemic. The lawsuit states that the company purposefully hid how bad their drug really was and how easy it was to get hooked to it.

The move is obviously a great one, because it will hopefully deter the next round of pharmaceutical CEOs and executives from lying about what they have really created.

As a general statement, I really can’t believe that doctors were so swayed by big companies into ruining the lives of their patients. To this day, doctors are still prescribing OxyContin — and drugs of a similar nature — to the people they are supposed to be taking care of. It would be the modern-day equivalent of prescribing cigarettes to a person with health issues, something we all know doctors used to do before advanced research.

When times get tough and the medical bills start to pile up, heroin is a cheaper alternative. From there, a long battle gets longer and harder, especially with the recent buzz about fentanyl. We see so many stories now of people losing their parents, children, family and friends to opioid addiction.

It just really bums me out. The whole situation is awful for the everyday person: someone who is just trying to find relief for the pain that has taken over. Now, they are addicts to something that will take a lifelong battle to overcome.

I wish the federal government would do more to combat the opioid crisis. If drastic measures were made and overdose-related deaths were to slope down thanks to new legislation, it would be a huge win for the Trump administration. The Surgeon General — and the federal government as a whole — is supposed to work 24 hours a day to keep all of us safe. So far, not so good.

There were 70 overdose-related deaths in 2017 in the town where I went to high school. I personally knew a few people that have passed away because of an overdose. It’s awful. It’s something that no one should have to experience, and I’m lucky enough that my direct friend group isn’t dabbling in stuff as strong as heroin.

On a related note, reach out to your friends and make sure that they’re doing well. They might give you the cold shoulder, but they might open up and express a need for help. When it comes to something as serious as mental health, you never want to leave the people you love in the dark. It’s not always easy to do, but doing it will make them feel like you really care about their well-being. It’s as rewarding as it is necessary.

One Comment

  1. Chris Laitinen

    Great Job Patrick. I grew up in Marshfield (live in Dallas now) and have seen and heard of too many lives lost or ruined by opioids. I was back in Boston this summer and randomly drove by Boston Medical Center and was shocked and saddened by the seemingly endless line of people in line to get their methadone. Many of these people looked like they had been on the streets for years, but a significant percentage looked like they were on their lunch break from the office. The grip of this drug in its many forms is terrifying and does not discriminate. This truly is an epidemic.

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