The nation’s opioid crisis is “the worst drug crisis in American history,” President Trump declared last fall. “Nobody has seen anything like it.” Indeed, it affects users, families and even law enforcement.
According to Josh Katz (N.Y. Times, Sept. 2, 2017), drug overdoses killed roughly 64,000 people in the United States in 2016. It’s a staggering rise of more than 22 percent from the 52,404 drug deaths recorded the previous year.
The crisis is so significant that it has contributed to worsening population mortality. U.S. life expectancy fell in 2015 and has seen almost no gain since 2013. To be sure, there were other reasons behind the drop, including increased mortality for leading causes of death like heart disease. But Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers cite a jump in unintentional injury deaths, namely drug and alcohol overdoses, as another major contributor.
Experts are conflicted on the appropriate next step. Some say lawsuits against Big Pharma are the answer. Yet, even as the number of opioid prescriptions has fallen each year since 2012, the death rate from street drugs like heroin and fentanyl is rising faster than ever. Others maintain that the most useful tool against overdoses is the antidote naloxone, which dozens of states now offer without a prescription and law enforcement officials routinely carry.
Being in law enforcement does not make us immune to opioid addiction. Injuries on the job are routine, many of which are orthopedic in nature. Strained muscles and twisted ankles from foot pursuits take a toll on the human body. For some, this can be the gateway to addiction if pain meds are abused.
Prescription painkillers are highly addictive and easily accessible. What often starts out as a legitimate use of medication to treat an injury could turn into drug abuse.
Factors such as genetic predisposition to addiction, learned behavior, excessive pain and misuse of more addictive medicines can lead to abuse of prescription drugs or other drugs.
If you need assistance with overuse or an addiction problem, or if you have questions about the resources available, call Psychological Services Bureau (PSB) at (213) 738-3500. We have law enforcement psychologists and trained deputy personnel ready to provide you with confidential help.