This isn’t a D.A.R.E campaign. We weren’t sponsored by the University to write this either. These 417 words were arranged deliberately as a wake-up call to the girl in the back of the room who’s been stealing her brother’s medication. To the casual Breaking Bad fan who thinks that the only side effect of hard drugs is a little stomach bile. To both the man under the bridge with bruised veins to the politician in office who thinks he can get away with it because of his bank account statement. This is a wake-up call to you.
Drug abuse is a social problem throughout the world, if not in Western Pennsylvania.
According to a report published by The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on Monday on Heroin addiction, “In 1985, Allegheny County had 22 overdose deaths, and in 2012 it had 288, the most recent number available from the Medical Examiner’s office.”
Earlier this year, a McDonald’s employee was caught selling heroin to-go by offering clients the drug in a Happy Meal, with an estimated 10-stamp heroin bags per box and authorities found an additional 50 bags on the person.
Each week The Duke receives an incident report from Duquesne University’s police department that “Uncle PB” rewrites in the Bluff Briefs. Each week it almost always features an abuse of drugs.
While Uncle PB and his dogs can’t sniff out prescription addiction, the evidence is there. The proportion of college students using prescription drugs went up 343 percent, a dramatic change from 1993 to 2005, of students use of opioids such as Vicodin, OxyContin, and Percocet. On top of that, there was a 93 percent increase in use of stimulants like Ritalin or Adderall, reports the Clinton Foundation.
Regardless of “gateway drugs,” financial standings or upbringing, these facts exist and they live and breathe amongst us with a clear theme surfacing: Addiction causes addiction. The problem is that as a society we are devaluing, desensitizing and disillusioning them either as a user or bystander.
Like a virus, addiction affects all, thus it will take all to fight it.
Educational measures are being taken in hospitals and schools to treat those who already have a problem. The Safe and Effective Opioid Prescribing Practices and Pain Management Task Force are placing stricter rules on prescribing drugs. The U.S. Attorney’s Working Group on Addiction: Prevention, Intervention, Treatment and Recovery are working on addressing the astounding numbers in Western Pennsylvania.
But no matter how many preventative actions are taken, the responsibility of the individual will be left with the final decision.