Lorelie Rozzano is a guest blogger for Vertava Health. Death by Overdose Doesn’t Just Happen to Addicts. 18 years have passed since I last put a joint or drink to my lips, or singed my nostrils by snorting copious amounts of cocaine, meth, speed or anything else I could find, into them. 18 years have passed since I put a crack pipe to my lips. 18 years have passed since I last contemplated suicide, or even homicide, for that matter. But last night all of the above happened, and all at once. I didn’t relapse or kill myself or anyone else last night, but my subconscious did. Last night I had a using dream and it’s not what you think. It wasn’t like any other using dream; I’ve ever had, before. Sorting though the dream was a prevalent message. I was lucky to get out alive. Although there is no good time to be a drug addict, it seems to me; even experimenting with drugs today, is a deadly business. In my dream I was smoking pot. Marijuana in my day, used to be leafy. It gave you the munchies and the giggles. I’d taken a huge hit and was drifting off on a rosy cloud, when I overheard a bodiless person sitting next to me murmur, ‘good stuff, hey? It’s laced with fentanyl.’ My rosy cloud burst and I was dropped into an ocean, where I flailed, not able to breathe. My lungs filled with fluid as I sank under the water. The panic of drowning was unbelievable. But this using dream of mine wasn’t finished with me, yet. The next thing I remember, I was sitting on a couch, with a rolled up 100 dollar bill in my hand. I bent to snort a long white line up my nostril. My eyes watered but the sting wasn’t quite right. Something was different. I thought I was snorting cocaine, but I was wrong, deadly wrong. For this too, was laced with fentanyl. My head drooped, my eyes rolled back, and I was unable to move. The only part of me that seemed to work was my mind, and it was keenly aware I was dying from a drug overdose. With death by overdose now the number one killer in America, it seems my conscience has much to say. I’m not sure what I can do, or how I can help, but staying silent about the plague we’re facing, isn’t it. Watching our kids die, and not demanding better qualified – addiction trained – health care providers (physicians, pharmacists and psychiatrists) is unethical. I woke up from my dream feeling tired and overwhelmed. It scares me that people can buy – what they think are Oxycodone – on the streets but are actually identical look a-likes made solely, from fentanyl. It scares me that a 14 year old child experimenting with marijuana can die from a fentanyl laced joint, the very first time he or she, ever tries it. It scares me that money is valued above life and that we have a new generation of severely addicted youth. It scares me that the FDA approved Oxycontin for 11 year olds. We’ve got more help available for addiction today than we’ve ever had in the past and yet, it isn’t helping. With each newly recovered addict, there are 10 more, in the making. What chance do or kids have when their doctors, and dentists, the people we trust with our health, are prescribing these deadly medications? What chance do our kids have when the FDA, whose sole purpose it is to keep us safe, are approving these deadly medications? How can we get pharma and government to hear us? How many have to die, before this will stop? I don’t have the answer to these questions, but together, we can raise our voice and demand to be heard. If you’re concerned about your loved ones using, don’t hide it. Tell their doctor, and involve addiction professionals. If you know of a doctor who is overprescribing pain medications, report them. Find people who are trained in addiction to speak with. Write letters to congress, attend rallies, and don’t keep opiate pain medication in your medicine cabinet. If you have addiction in your family, your children are vulnerable. They are four times more likely to become addicted, themselves. Talk to your kids about addiction. Make sure they understand the dangers of using when they’re genetically, predisposed. It’s easy to think that death by overdose only happens to the addicted population, we see on the streets. We don’t want to believe it could be our kid, or the neighbor’s kid, down the street. But the truth is these days; you don’t even have to be an addict to be in danger. There is a real possibility you can die from an overdose, the very first time you try drugs. If you or someone you know needs help, please call this confidential support line for assistance. 888-601-8693.
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