The opioid crisis is spreading across America like a wildfire, leaving charred lives and limb in its wake, and threatens the future generations of America if not solved.
Opioid Crisis of 1908
In 1908, President Teddy Roosevelt was worried that a an opiate addiction that was sweeping the nation was going to threaten the America, so Roosevelt placed Hamilton Wright as the nation’s first Opium Commissioner, and this man warned, almost prophetically, that Americans “have become the greatest drug fields in the world.” It looks like things haven’t changed very much. Much of this began with the many wounded veterans of the Civil War as they were treated on the battlefield with morphine. Many of these men developed powerful addictions to the drug, and this is where many developed their addictions to narcotics. These addictions held many of these men just like prisoners of war, but this treatment was much worse, because in most cases, they were only released at death, so this opioid crisis is not really new, but the vast difference today is, there is much easier access to opioids, both by legal and illegal means. Opioids may include such brand names as OxyContin, or come in a generic form, but it also includes heroin, which appears to be the bigger threat in this crisis. According to the Massachusetts Health and Human Services, opioid-related deaths rose sharply in 2013 from the previous year, going from 668 to 978, and while prescription opioids have recently caused fewer deaths, and which may be attributed to new training first responders receive, the death rates from heroin use in this country continues to grow, so it threatens to become a national catastrophe if something is not done about it. From their toxicology screens, Massachusetts reported the rate of fentanyl present in opioid-related deaths has never increased this rapidly before. It reached 81 percent in the first quarter of 2017, from a low of 19 percent in the third quarter of 2014, and many other states with large urban areas, are reporting similar numbers. Strangely, America continues to be, as Hamilton Wright said, the greatest drug field in the world, so even though the opioid crisis is nothing knew, nor is the problem of heroin addiction, today, the stakes are so much higher, and with easier access, it portends to become a national crisis; many say, it already is. This opioid crisis in America is like a ticking time bomb that threatens to blow the head off the next generation.
Death in a Drug
For those 50 and under, the World Health Organization says the U.S. has more than double the rate of any other nation, so for those under 50, drug overdoses are the number one cause of death, and while other nations of the world have about a 1.5 percent death rate out of a hundred for drug-related deaths, in America, the numbers are much higher. Overdoses killed more people last year than guns or car accidents, and continue to do so at a pace faster than the H.I.V. epidemic at its peak. In 2015, the last available numbers, roughly 2 percent of deaths in the United States were drug-related. That’s one in 50, and not only has that number never been so high before, it is still growing! While prescription opioid-related deaths have stabilized, heroine deaths have soared. Opiates are the umbrella under which with a whole host of other drugs with similar properties are classified. First, there was morphine, then there was heroin, then prescription painkillers like Vicodin, Percocet and OxyContin came along, and finally, for many of the patients taking these drugs, it created drug addicts. It didn’t happen overnight, but slowly and surely by their prolonged use, so these drugs created powerful addictions, through legal prescriptions, and for many, that’s where their opioid addiction began. By taking these drugs, which are legal prescriptions, doctors have inadvertently produced drug or opioid addicts, and these powerful addictions dramatically change a person’s life and nature, and sometimes, unfortunately, it costs them their life.
Why have opioids become so pandemic? Does it have anything to do with having no purpose in life or no hope for tomorrow? What’s the basic cause of this opioid crisis? For most, it began with a prescription of OxyContin or other generic brand, and this drug seems to have a stronger tendency to create an addiction than others, so the question is: What is missing in these 50-and-under adult’s lives that causes them to fall into addictions. Do doctors, and also, drug manufacturers have culpability for this growing crisis? A growing number of politicians and doctors say, “Yes.” Natural opioids differ from drug companies synthetic pain killers, and that’s where the problem is made worse. For example, Fentanyl is purely synthetic, and it’s a drug that is very helpful for surgeons. It’s used for surgical anesthesia, but it’s also prescribed to treat pain, but here’s where it gets dangerous. Almost all of the fentanyl on the streets is illicitly manufactured and may contain substances that can cause seizures, and in many cases, death. Putting something into your body that’s bought off the streets is a little like playing Russian roulette. You just never know what you’re going to get in the chamber.
A Coming Crisis?
Many who have trusted in Christ have come out of these powerful addictions, but also alcoholism, and addictions to gambling, and just about anything else you can think of, but the opioid crisis is quickly creating drug addicts across the nation, and their disposition from living a normal, productive life is dramatically changed from, “It doesn’t matter how I get it or who I hurt to get it, I must have it!” These are the words I have heard these men say to me about their former life, so clearly, the opioid crisis has the potential to hurt this nation today deeply, and hurt the next generation, and can hurt it like never before, delivering such a blow, as to never recover. What is missing is not necessary the right treatment program, although professional help must be sought, but the Spirit of God, because we cannot do anything without Christ (John 15:5), and only through Him can we do anything (Phil 4:13).
If you know of someone who is battling this life-threatening addiction, which can suck the very life out of them, seek help or help them to see their need for help. Then, pray for that person, love them when no one else will love them, and never give up on them because God never gives up on us, even when we give up on Him at times. His promise is: never will I leave you and never will I forsake you (Heb 13:5). Several in our local church have overcome their own “opioid crisis,” and today, God is using them mightily, so I pray that those who have reached the end of their rope find the God Who has been waiting for them all along…in fact, He tied the knot. They recognize that “The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe” (Prov 18:10)…even from opioids. I have seen a few of these men break free from their opioid addiction and now they have hope. They sought and received treatment for their addiction, but they also ran to their stronghold and made the Lord Jesus Christ their Rock. Put your trust in Him. He alone can make straight the crooked path and make light of the darkest corners.
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is a writer at Christian Quotes and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.