Recently, Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts spoke out about the problem of heroin addiction, a deadly disease that is on the rise across the country, including in Massachusetts. Heroin addiction, and addiction to prescription opiates, which many health officials agree may be related, has been on a dramatic decline in the past several years.
Heroin and prescription drug abuse is a very serious problem, as heroin has proven to be one of the most lethal substances to be addicted to.
Senator Appeals to “Moral Responsibility” To End Heroin Use
In his impassioned speech, delivered in Holyoke, Massachusetts, Markey recognized that the problem of heroin abuse and prescription drug abuse had become such a massive epidemic that it was of utmost importance for both the government, communities, and healthcare facilities to take serious action against this issue, which has claimed countless lives in not only Massachusetts but across the country.
Markey emphasized the fact that addiction was a disease that affected the entire country by encouraging professionals in “science, medicine, and public health to address this crisis,” adding that “We also need the FDA to take a fresh look at how it is working to develop and approve new therapies that will reduce drug use and the tragic harms that result.” Many experts agree that the problem of heroin and prescription drug use is indeed a complicated one that will certainly require creative thinking on multiple fronts.
The Relationship Between Heroin and Prescription Drug Abuse
Echoing the analysis of many healthcare experts, Senator Markey referenced the need to address prescription drug abuse and heroin as related problems, stating that those who are “Addicted to prescription drugs are switching to heroin because of the cheaper cost.” This seems to be a growing trend in many cities, where medical experts are noticing a relationship between the use of prescription drugs and the use of heroin.
There are a number of theories as to the relationship between the heroin epidemic and the upswing in the availability of prescription opiates. Many users of prescription drugs are introduced to them initially because of some legitimate purpose, such as after a surgery or injury. Due to the drugs’ highly addictive nature, many individuals who would not otherwise struggle with opiates are introduced to the substance.
Thus, an entire new population of potential users. Many states have attempted to quell the growing trend of prescription drug use by creating more strict regulations and training for doctors and patients. The success of these programs has been somewhat mixed, as in some cases, increases in prescription drug controls has led to higher instances of heroin use.
Addiction Is A Disease
Senator Markey emphasized a point that has long been key for addiction health specialists: that addiction is a disease. After Markey’s speech, Mayor Morse of Holyoake, expressed his gratitude to Markey for highlighting the importance of what is indeed currently a “crisis (and) public health issue.”
Many healthcare professionals agree that one of the most important factors in the fight to end heroin related deaths and overdoses is understanding the nature of addiction and the fact that its treatment requires that it be viewed as a disease. Like any other disease, there are a number of factors that put a person at risk for addiction.
When addiction is stigmatized, programs that may otherwise be highly effective may not be given the support they need, and addicts and their families may not have access to the recovery tools they need and deserve. Many addiction specialists hope that government officials everywhere follow Markey’s lead.