The opioid abuse epidemic in Ohio doesn’t discriminate. The effects of the epidemic hurts everyone the same, no matter what their race, age, or sex. A college student at Lorain County Community College is certainly no exception.
Prescription opioid abuse was the gateway to heroin for one such college student, who wishes to remain nameless. He had been involved in a car accident that broke both of his legs. “It started in 2003, and I ended up prescribed pain killer’s due to the accident,” he said. “I didn’t actually start taking them until three years later.”
He dealt with the pain until it became unbearable not to use them. “Because of the winter my body hurt, I started taking them because in the beginning it was fine,” he said. “But I started taking more.”
His doctor would gradually increase the dosage and strength of the pills. “It went from taking Vicodin to Percocet to taking OxyContin, and then taking it multiple times a day,” he explained.
Because the all drugs he was taking were legally prescribed by a doctor, he felt he wasn’t doing anything wrong. “I kept telling myself that it was fine because they were legal,” he said. “I was taking it as prescribed, but at the same time that ‘as prescribed’ I was actually abusing it, no matter what the doctor said.”
The opioid addiction had affected him in many aspects of his life. “If it wasn’t for the addiction, I would not have lost my savings, house, friends, wife, or had to file bankruptcy,” he said.
He had lost his insurance coverage and could not afford his prescriptions. “My friend introduced me to heroin,” he said. “Because it was the same thing but cheaper and has the same exact effect.” The prescription drug, Percocet, is known in the opioid community as heroin in a pill form. “That is exactly what it is.” said Patrick.
Patrick is currently pursuing a degree in substance abuse through LCCC
The Ohio Department of Health released a press release on August 30, 2017 showing progress in fighting the opioid epidemic. The press release reported that prescription opioid related deaths declined from a total of 667 in 2015 to 564 in 2016 which is the fewest total since 2009. “This progress is significant because prescription opioid abuse is frequently a gateway to heroin and fentanyl use later on.” said Dr. Mark Hurst, medical director of the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services and interim medical director of Ohio Department of Health.
The press release also states that between the years of 2012 and 2016 the total number of opioids prescribed to Ohioans decreased by 162 million doses.
Ohio is investing $1 billion each year to assist communities in fighting the epidemic at the local levels which include assisting communities to purchase naloxone, investing in drug courts, increase funding for individuals with addiction, and enforcing drug laws. The Action Guide to Address Opioid Abuse is a resource made available for Ohio’s communities by members of the Governor’s Opiate Action Team.
The Lorain County Community College has the Caring Advocates for Recovery Education Center (CARE Center) in the Business Building located in room 113D. The center provides resources, AA meetings, information, and advocacy for any and all students. For further information call: (440) 366-4848 or stop in to talk in confidence.