America’s Game, America’s Addiction

The only thing hyped as much as the Super Bowl are its commercials. It was a highly publicized fact that a single 30-second advertisement would cost $5 million this year. That is serious money.

So, it would stand to reason that companies would only advertise if the message was geared to a huge audience, such as beer drinkers, automobile buyers.  Nearly halfway through the game, viewers were treated to an ad for constipation, specifically, opiate-induced constipation.

Constipation aside, is the opiate-consuming audience really that large? The answer is yes; in fact, opiate pain killer use is at an all-time high and deaths due to overdose now stand at epidemic levels throughout the United States, with the MVP being Oxycontin.

Just consider:

Sales of prescription painkillers in 2010 were four times higher than a decade earlier; according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine.

Health care providers write more than 250 million prescriptions for opioid painkillers each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Opioids are legitimate medications with legitimate indications for usage, such as certain surgical procedures, chronic and acute pain, or terminal illness. The problem is that they are being used frivolously, dangerously, without informed consent and for reasons that do not necessitate opioid-based pain management.

We have an epidemic of over-prescribing which has led to tremendous growth in prescription pill addiction. What we need now is a focus on access to good care for those currently addicted, education and accountability for physicians prescribing it, and education/awareness to the American public about the risks associated with use of opioid-based meds—the least of which is constipation. The worst and all-too-common risk remains addiction and death due to overdose.

What a sad state of affairs we have in our country that drug companies market to the general population about a drug that alleviates a side effect of pain medications. We are an over-medicated country and adding another drug to take care of a side effect of others hardly seems close to a solution.

I suppose if we don’t acknowledge that there’s a problem (Step1!), we are not in a position to even consider looking for healing, change, health or hope (Step 2). We stay stuck in our current ways of doing things, looking to pills (some of which have death as a side effect if we are honest about it) as our solution, our higher power, our God.