America scarfs down 30 times the amount of opioids it actually needs

America scarfs down 30 times the amount of opioids it actually needs

VicesMarch 09, 2018 By Will Brendza

America is helplessly gripped by an epidemic opioid addiction. The land of the free, the home of the brave, is also a place deeply infused with a dark and dangerous drug problem. It’s easier to get an opioid prescription from your doctor in this country than it is to get food stamps from the government. Real talk.

And then, when the prescriptions run out, those people hit the poppies. That black tar. The horse. Things turn sour in a hurry from there.

Driving the epidemic is the fact that the U.S. consumes thirty times the number of opioids that a population its size actually needs. And when people are consuming drugs at a rate like that, it isn’t just for fun. No — America is over-medicating itself for a reason.

Why? That’s the real question.

Finding answers to an underground issue isn't easy, yet whatever it is, our love for opioids isn’t anything new. In fact, Americans have had a close relationship with opium since the birth of this fine nation. The use of the drug was widespread even during the American Revolutionary War — widely used by both British and Colonial soldiers. Not surprisingly, just about everybody back then needed some quick and easy pain relief.

And, actually, Old Hickory himself, Andrew Jackson, the 7th president of the United States, kept a poppy garden on his farm specifically for the purpose of producing a personal stockpile of opium. Sadly, however, in 1987 the DEA decided to raid Andrew’s estate and tore that presidential poppy garden right out of the ground. The government of the time (the Ronald Reagan Administration) was trying to make a statement: Drugs are bad, m’kuy?

A lot of good all that conservative anti-drug culture did.

Because, in 2015, there were over 30,000 opioid overdose deaths; a number that has been on the rise since (and has seemingly doubled since 2015 per some estimates). Today, Big Pharma has this country by the balls — no better than a filthy skag dealer slinging quantity in a low-opportunity neighborhood, except with FDA approval.

This all makes a dark kind of sense when you think about it: The drug that America is consuming en masse, in quantity, in vast, excessive amounts, is not a drug to engage in life more vividly. Opioids are a means of escape; a means of extracting oneself from worldly terrors, and losing it in a blissful, fleeting paradise that will cripple the body with an almost unbreakable addiction. To many, that tradeoff is an adequate one.

Is it our current political climate? Or perhaps, our social landscape that’s driving these consumption levels? Or, is it solely the morbid greed of big pharma corporations, literally sucking the life out of American addicts in the name of profit?

Likely, it’s a combination of all three, with a healthy dose of personal circumstance mixed in.

Regardless, America consumes 81 percent of the world’s Oxycodone, and 99 percent of hydrocodone worldwide. That is far more than we need. It’s excessive and it’s killing us and there’s no conceivable options for treating the problem at its source. America needs help, because this might not be a problem this country can solve on its own.

And that’s what an addiction feels like, isn’t it? Helpless, owned, and used — no different than some junkie’s dirty needle.