As we learn more details about the death of rock star Prince, more attention is being focused on the widespread misuse of prescription painkillers. Statistics show that painkillers like oxycodone are the leading cause of unintentional death in the U.S. accounting for one death every 19 minutes.
When access to prescription painkillers is cut off then the next move is to street drugs like heroin. Both types of drugs have the same chemical structures and provide the same results. Consider taking a look at America’s growing opioid epidemic for your next research paper.
Prince: An American tragedy
Although he was famously careful about his diet it now appears that Prince battled an addiction to prescription painkillers that may have caused his death.
Emanualla Grinberg discussed new findings in her May 6, 2016, article for CNN.com, “Prince’s death: The latest.”
According to Grinberg, investigators found prescription painkillers on Prince’s body and in his Minnesota home. Officials have yet to release autopsy findings as to the cause of death, however.
What we do know so far is that an addiction specialist who had traveled to Minnesota to meet with Prince was the one who found the star‘s lifeless body in his home, Paisley Park.
“Since then, a former attorney for two of Prince’s dead siblings has come forward with more troubling information. Lawyer Michael B. Padden said the siblings revealed Prince had an addiction to Percocet decades before his sudden death,” Grinberg added.
How addiction to painkillers happens
No one starts out wanting to become addicted to painkillers. It often begins with a genuine need to control pain for medical reasons. But the feeling of numbness and euphoria can take over and lead to dependence.
In a practice known as “doctor shopping” the addict goes from one doctor to another for a prescription. Finally, all legal avenues dead-end because the need has grown beyond mainstream protocols.
WebMD.com outlined, “Prescription Drug Abuse: Who Gets Addicted?”
Risk factors of addiction include:
- Abuse of substances such as alcohol or cocaine
- A family member with addiction problems
- Mental health problems such as depression
Another contributing factor is that availability of these drugs has given rise to addiction to them, and that can result in death.
A look at drug policy
When writing a research paper about America’s opioid epidemic, consider including a review of our drug policies. You can find scholarly research and tools to help you write your papers at Questia.
Resources related to drug use in America include the book, Pain Control and Drug Policy: A Time for Change, by Guy B. Faguet.
This book focuses on the DEA interference with American medical practice that caused the pain management crisis. It argues that, in addition to penalizing millions of blameless American pain sufferers and hundreds of thousands of nonviolent American drug offenders, and devastating societies in producer countries, drug policy has not, cannot, and will not reduce the supply of drugs on American streets or elsewhere as long as the illegal drug trade remains in place.
According to Faquet, “Overwhelmed by experimental and experiential evidence that drug prohibition has been an extremely costly failure that causes more harm than good, prohibitionists cling to claims of partial success in some areas and to assert that were it not for current drug policy illicit drug use and addiction would be much worse than it is today.”
Signs of substance abuse
Do you know someone who is battling addiction? Look for the following signs:
- Lack of energy and motivation
- Inability to concentrate
- Increasingly secretive
- Missing work or classes
- Decrease in social activities
- Physical changes: droopy eyes, pinpoint pupils, itching, flushed face and neck, slurred speech
Where to get help
If you think that someone you know needs help with an addiction seek help through your campus health center or check out the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.
Do you think that prescription painkillers are a problem at your school? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.