The opioid crisis is something that can no longer be ignored as it has been in years past. We all remember the presentations in middle school and high school about the dangers of drugs. Programs like D.A.R.E. had friends or families of those who had been afflicted with drug addiction visit schools to speak out. Despite this, drug education was oftentimes general, impersonal and took a sobriety-based platform in regards to drug use, which of course can be unrealistic in the real world.
College provides an environment in which it is easier to access pharmaceuticals than it is, as a minor, to find someone to buy you alcohol. There are countless jokes on various social media platforms about the pros and cons of Adderall induced homework binges the week before finals or mixing Xanax with alcohol on nights out. The casual manner in which young adults are taking prescription medication allows for an easy leap to the addictive and deadly world of opioids and painkillers.
Popularized by pop culture, taking opioids such as Percocet and Oxycodone, and concoctions such as Lean which contains Codeine, now seems to be used in the same way as alcohol and marijuana: recreationally. Rap songs such as “Mask Off (Molly Percocet)” performed by artist Future and “Zack and Codeine” by Post Malone were at the top of the charts over the past year and are still in the beloved playlists of students all over the nation.
The casual attitudes surrounding these types of addictive prescription painkillers seems to have had a hand in the increasing number of opioid-related deaths in the United States. The Center for Disease Control released the information that in 2017 alone over 70,000 Americans had died of drug overdoses, more than all the U.S. deaths in the Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined. The Guardian reports that there is no discernable location or class which opioids seem to be affecting, as they are reaching any and all U.S. citizens.
Despite the glorification of these drugs in the media and by celebrities, their dangers have also been brought to light, most recently with the death of rapper Mac Miller who overdosed on a mixture of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid which is up to 50 times more powerful than heroin, cocaine, and alcohol. Many young adults took his death as a personal loss due to his young age and impact on the younger generations.
In order to fulfill a desire that so many people have due to an addictive relationship with prescribed opioids, drugs such as heroin and fentanyl have become more popular and more prevalent, to the point where deaths related to cocaine mixed with fentanyl overdoses have increased over 400 percent in the last three years, according to NPR. In a world where drug use seems to be just as trendy as Gucci, young adults who are exposed to its use must make themselves aware of the risks and uncertainty associated with taking any sort of drug, because at the end of the day, there is no such thing as a ‘safe’ drug.