Death: The Untimely Consequence of Drug Addiction

Death: The Untimely Consequence of Drug Addiction

deathIn the wake of the tragic drug overdose death of Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, the United States is having to confront the issues of drug abuse, addiction and overdose. Though Hoffman’s death was the result of a massive overdose on heroin, it is known that the actor had also struggled with addiction to painkillers, a category of drug that is closely related to heroin given that both are derived from opium. Over the course of recent years, we have seen a massive increase in the rate of prescription painkiller addiction, and pain pill overdose now claims an average of around 15,000 lives every year. In fact, painkillers now kill more addicts than both heroin and cocaine combined. Furthermore, 29 states reported last year that drug overdose killed more people than car accidents, making overdose one of the leading causes of death in the United States. The prevalence of fatal drug overdose is something entirely new. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fatal prescription drug overdose in the U.S. has increased by more than 300% over the past 25 years and is currently at its highest rates ever. For every 1 person who dies of painkiller overdose, furthermore, there are another 130 people who abuse or are dependent on the drugs, the CDC estimates. This means that as high as the rates of overdose are now, in other words, there is a great potential for further deaths. And of course, painkillers aren’t the only drugs that people are overdosing on, as Philip Seymour Hoffman’s case reminds us.

Overall, the rate of drug overdose deaths in America has more than doubled since the early 1980’s, reports the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). That agency goes on to state that drugs are the cause of more deaths, more sickness and more cases of disability than any other preventable health condition. Drugs, indeed, are perhaps the greatest ill facing our society. According to the CDC, overdose was the leading cause of injury related death in 2010. Overdose death is not something that affects only the person who loses his or her life, but it also touches the rest of us as well. Most people who die of overdose leave behind mothers and fathers, husbands, wives and children, friends and loved ones who have lost someone dear to them and who can never be replaced. Overdose is yet another example of what a scourge drugs have become for our society, and unfortunately it is for too many people a final wake up call that something has to be done about the problem. By the time a fatal overdose happens, nothing can be done but mourn the loss of the drug user and take actions to keep the same thing from happening to others.

Overdose After Rehab

Another aspect of the topic raised by the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman is the vital necessity of getting rehab that works. As it turns out, Hoffman had spent 10 days in a brief stint in rehab in May of 2013 for treatment of addiction to painkillers and heroin. This attempt at sobriety may actually have contributed to Hoffman’s death. In many cases of overdose, the problem is not that the user has taken more drugs than is normal for that person, but rather that he or she has used the usual amount after a period of sobriety. As a drug addict uses more and more, he or she builds up a tolerance for the drug so that it takes increasing amounts of the substance to get high. This tolerance fades away the longer that the person is sober, so if he or she suffers a relapse and goes back to the accustomed doseage there is a great liability of overdose. In light of this, rehab is an all-or-none proposition, something that should only be attempted with confidence that it will work. Narconon is not a 10-day rehab, or even a 28-day rehab as is common. On the contrary, Narconon students typically spend 3 to 5 months in rehab, as long as it takes to recover fully and stably so that there is minimal chance of a relapse and fatal overdose.

Sources:

http://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/medical-consequences-drug-abuse/mortality

http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/rxbrief/

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/03/movies/philip-seymour-hoffman-actor-dies-at-46.html?_r=0