Addiction was once something that happened to other people. But opioids have changed that.
Drugs once prescribed to treat pain have turned patients into addicts, forcing them to the extremes to feed their habit. Hundreds of thousands of people from all demographics have become caught up in the grip of the nation’s opioid epidemic. Last year, more than 49,000 people died from opioid overdose.
Last month, The New York Times published a moving overview of the opioid crisis called “A Visual Journey Through Addiction,” that chronicles how these drugs can “hijack the brain” and make the average person an addict.
“To understand what goes through the minds and bodies of opioid users, The New York Times spent months interviewing users, family members and addiction experts,” the story reads. Moving videos take readers on the journey to addiction and recovery, starting with Gateway, the high a person gets the first time a person takes a drug like the illegal and potent opioid heroin.
“To an outsider, it looks as though you have passed out,” the section reads. “But on the inside you feel like a master of the universe, like you’re being ‘hugged by Jesus,’ as one user said; there’s peace in your skin and not a single feeling of pain.”
Users say the pleasure that opioids give takes more to replicate, but is never the same as in the beginning. Yet, the body craves more. If a user can’t get his hands on the drug, the crippling pain, vomiting, insomnia, spasms, hot and cold flashes, goosebumps, congestion and tears of withdrawal are unbearable and can last weeks.
“Sell your body. Abandon your child. Steal from your mother. You might lose your job. Lose your home. Lose your loved ones. In this sad stage, families are torn apart,” according to the Times article.
Those who endure the withdrawal will often relapse. Some will overdose. Many die. Recovery is difficult and takes time, but is possible.
“Whether the nation’s health care system and society can catch up to the opioid crisis remains to be seen,” the article says in closing. “People can recover and lead meaningful and happy lives again, even if medication is required indefinitely. Their stories provide hope.”
Source: The New York Times