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Wizard of Oz cast

Opioids. It used to be that when I thought of anything opiate-related, I was picturing poppies and heroin. Beatniks in Haight Ashbury and Dorothy running through the fields in Wizard of Oz (have any of you read the original version of the book? There are some seriously bizarre moments in there).

Nowadays, I immediately think of painkillers from the doctor when I hear about opioids. I remember a boy in my high school overdosing on some of these pills, resulting in a months-long coma that altered the course of his entire life. Things like this were common in the Seattle-area town where I grew up, the home of Kurt Cobain.

Cory Monteith
Photo credit: Eva Rinaldi

High-end prescriptions are the glorified giddy-makers of our age, and doctors dole them out left and right. “Need a little something to get you through a painful mouth surgery or the recovery process after labor? Try a narcotic!” The trouble arises when people develop an addiction, a chronic disease in which the brain thinks that the drug is necessary for survival. And it's totally common. The daughter of two former drug addicts, I'm acutely aware and see these addictions constantly, from celebrities to neighbors and friends. Just last week, I gathered with a group of girlfriends to sob our eyes out over heartthrob¬†Glee star Cory Monteith's early death due to opioid abuse.

Kristen Johnston
Photo Credit: David Shankbone

In one of the more relatable accounts I've heard, Kristen Johnston from 3rd Rock from the Sun¬†recently shared that she had an opioid addiction that pretty much destroyed her stomach. She detailed her experience in a shocking memoir that described in-depth how the pill-popping eventually caused her intestines to “rip open.” I applaud her frank discussion about it, as accounts from celebrities are destined to get more attention than those of “regular folk.”

These drugs are SO hard on your body and so easy to get hooked on, going from a leg up in the recovery process to a way of easing the pain when life gets a little too difficult. People think that it makes them more social, funny, creative – all the same adjectives that are used for alcohol. It's all well and good until it takes over in just a matter of days or weeks. Users eventually become sick with stomach problems, sleep disturbances, sexual dysfunction and then all the typical signs of drug use: anger, loss of interest in regular activities and friendships. I've seen a number of acquaintances go through this ordeal – sprung from a simple doctor's note – and I wouldn't wish it on anyone.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit Turn to Help for information on how to obtain a prescription to help ease you off of the drugs. Quitting cold turkey is difficult and scary and sometimes just not realistic. There is private and discreet help available directly from a doctor, and it is covered by the majority of health insurance companies.

Opioid Dependence Infographic

 

You aren't alone. Find a doctor certified to treat opioid dependence now at turntohelp.com.