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Eng 1a the Opiate Epidemic

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Ken Brown

English 1A

Essay 2

October 28th, 2016

                                                   “The Opiate Epidemic “

     When it comes to Gladwell’s book “The Tipping Point”, he focuses on trends and epidemics. In addition, explains how they are sparked.  To be more precise he explains in great detail what the catalysts are that push said trends or epidemics over the “Tipping Point” so to speak.  Most of Gladwell’s topics are of a positive nature. For example, the re-rise of Hush Puppy Shoes through the right marketing strategies, and a few “beatnik” yuppies that started wearing them in the right place, at the right time. Then there is the re-vamped advertising campaign that saved Airwalk Shoes. To the Power of Context and how cleaning up specific areas of New York City led to the “Broken Window Theory”. Whereas people as a whole tend to generally, act accordingly in a cleaner, nicer looking environment as opposed to an environment that full of graffiti and garbage.  Gladwell attributes the Broken Window Theory is what saved New York City and dramatically lowered crime rates in the 90’s through drastic cleanup efforts and a zero tolerance policy on petty crimes.

     Although his theories seem to be, spot on and true. Epidemics come in many varieties.  More so than not, epidemics tend to be less positive of events. Whereas, Trends tend to carry a more positive vibe to them. Yet with the right spark and nudge in the right direction, both can spread with just as much vigor as each other.  

     So what epidemic could I be referring to that matches up with Gladwell’s book and his theories?  Well, the epidemic I am choosing to focus on is the scourge of Opiate and Heroin usage that has ravaged our country for quite a few years now.  This epidemic hits our society at every level, from coast to coast, to every major and small city in the country.  Including Shasta County and Redding. On a more personal note, I myself have seven months clean from opiates.  Therefore, I know full well the extent that this disease has spread.  Along with how it spreads.  Without going into too much detail, my story is no different than most of the rest of the country. So when it comes to knowing how the drug grabs a hold of people and will not let go until the user hits a point that its life or death. By the grace of god and my diligent discipline, along with help from Right Roads Recovery Center, I was able to get clean and rid myself of the nightmare I found myself trapped in.  

     This has been an ever-growing issue across America, and there seems to be no slowing it down.  In fact the number of people becoming addicted to heroin and opiates is still very much actively rising. It is reported that back in 2014, a secondary “Tipping Point” happened. The numbers of opiate related deaths were far greater than deaths associated from car accidents. This was the first time this has ever happened in recorded history. Approximately, over 2 million Americans are addicted to opiates and heroin. How did it get this way? Well, as said before that the comparison in death rates is basically a secondary Tipping Point.  Except, the second tipping point is a complete opposite of the first tipping point. Meaning that people are now realizing that there is most definitely a very serious issue that needs to be eradicated.    

     In order to better understand how America as a whole got to the epidemic, state of emergency, we find ourselves in now. We have to go back to the early 90’s. Back when doctors knew, that vicodin was addictive. Therefore, they took more precaution when prescribing it to people. Then is when the first “Tipping Point” happened.

     A company by the name of Purdue Pharmaceuticals created oxycontin / oxycodone.  In addition, they spent millions on a major campaign to convince the medical community that their new drug was not addictive like vicodin.  Well, that is where the first tipping point took place. Once “Big Pharma” had the medical community convinced that their drug was harmless. All they had to do was get it into the hands of the people and the drug itself will do the rest of the work.  To be more precise Purdue Pharmaceuticals flat out lied about their drug and its addictive properties. However, once the drugs were already out there, their affects were instantly felt across the nation.

     The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls the prescription opioid epidemic the worst of its kind in U.S. history. “The bottom line is this is one of the very few health problems in this country that’s getting worse,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC.

     We had a fourfold increase in deaths from opiates in a decade,” Frieden said. “That’s nearly 17,000 people dying from prescription opiate overdoses every year. And more than 400,000 go to an emergency room for that reason.”

     Clinics that dispensed painkillers proliferated with only the loosest of safeguards, until a recent coordinated federal-state crackdown crushed many of the so-called “pill mills.” As the opioid pain meds became scarce, a cheaper opioid began to take over the market — heroin. Frieden said three quarters of heroin users started with pills.

     Federal and Kentucky officials told The Huffington Post that they knew the move against prescription drugs would have consequences. “We always were concerned about heroin,” said Kevin Sabet, a former senior drug policy official in the Obama administration. “We were always cognizant of the push-down, pop-up problem. However, we were not about to let these pill mills flourish in the name of worrying about something that had not happened yet. … When crooks are putting on white coats and handing out pills like candy, how could we expect a responsible administration not to act?”

     As heroin use rose, so did overdose deaths. The statistics are overwhelming. In a study released this past fall examining 28 states, the CDC found that heroin deaths doubled between 2010 and 2012. The CDC reported recently that heroin-related overdose deaths jumped 39 percent nationwide between 2012 and 2013, surging to 8,257. In the past decade, Arizona’s heroin deaths rose by more than 90 percent. New York City had 420 heroin overdose deaths in 2013 — the most in a decade. A year ago, Vermont’s governor devoted his entire State of the State speech to heroin’s resurgence. The public began paying attention the following month, when Philip Seymour Hoffman died from an overdose of heroin and other drugs. His death followed that of actor Cory Monteith, who died of an overdose in July 2013 shortly after a 30-day stay at an abstinence-based treatment center.

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