According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 91 people die in the US everyday from an opioid overdose. In 2015, about 52,000 Americans died from a drug overdose. Two-thirds of those deaths were attributed to opioids. Drug overdose has now surpassed motor accidents as the leading cause of accidental death in the US.
Opioids are so dangerously addictive mainly because of the way they act in our bodies. Opioids attach themselves to specific proteins in the called opioid receptors, found throughout the body on nerve cells in the brain, spinal cord, and other organs in the body. Once these opioids attach themselves to these receptors, they reduce the perception of pain and can produce feelings of well-being. Opioid medications also interact with the regions of the brain involved in reward. For someone abusing opioids,these feelings of reward and well-being are so powerful the user may seek another method of administration, or perhaps even a stronger drug to give the user the desired effect. When used repeatedly, most opioid users begin to develop a tolerance, feeling as though the effect of the drug has lessened although the same dosage is being used. Seeking the same high they experienced at first, tolerance many times leads to an increase in drug use.
Although Ohio, Rhode Island, West Virginia, Kentucky, and New Hampshire are leading the nation in per-capita opioid overdoses; we are still seeing this epidemic effect residents of South Texas.
To better understand the epidemic locally, Action 10 News sat down with a young man who has struggled with addiction since his late teens. He first tried heroin at the young age of 17. Since then, he has spent the last decade fighting his addiction while trying to take care of his family.
"You feel selfish for sure, but it doesn't stop you... it didn't stop me," he said after I asked him about scoring drugs while raising children. Like many other addicts, ours didn't plan for addiction... instead it started with an injury. He was stabbed during an altercation and given a 3 month supply of hydrocodone.
As his dependency on the pills grew, so did his tolerance. Like many addicts, he quickly reached the point where he was no longer taking the pills for pain management... he was taking them to "function".
The stigma surrounding most addictions would have us believe that opioid addiction would be most common in lower income neighborhoods and places where crime is more prevalent. however, with opioids, this is hardly the case. Addiction doesn't discriminate, and once you're hooked, pricey pill habits can quickly evolve into a heroin habit because heroin tends to be much cheaper and easier ot find on the streets.
Sadly, finding hard drugs,like heroin,on on our streets is not difficult. "Basically nothing stops you from scoring." For our addict, finding a fix was as easy as pulling up next to someone he suspected might be a user and simply having them take him to the "dopehouse". "If I even wanted to score, I wouldn't even make a phone call... I'd just go," he said as he shook his head in disbelief.
Although scoring his drug of choice hasn't been difficult, some of the lessons he's learned have been. He's lost 6-figure jobs, totaled a truck, spent time in rehab and even endured the guilt associated with the heartbreak he's caused his loved ones. Even after being administered a life-saving dose of narcan after an accidental overdose at a stoplight. the desire to use was still there.
Luckily, his story has a happy ending. he has now been clean for several months. His 3rd child, a beautiful baby girl, was born happy and healthy in late November. Stories like his are oftentimes hard to hear, but raising awareness is the first step in finding a viable solution.
If you or anyone you know is suffering from addiction you are not alone. There are many community organizations who would love to help.
South Texas Substance Abuse Recovery Services, (STSARS)
907 Antelope St.
Corpus Christi, TX 78401
101 Sixth St.
Robstown, TX 78380
602 N. Staples St.
Corpus Christi, TX 78401
800-882-9979 (toll free)
Charlie's Place Recovery Center
5501 Ih 37, 5501 Mc Bride Ln, Corpus Christi, TX 78408
Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse of the Coastal Bend
1801 South Alameda, Ste. 150
Corpus Christi, Texas 78404
Counseling & Recovery Services
4300 S Padre Island Dr, Corpus Christi, TX 78411
The KZTV10.COM app is available now on the App Store™ and Android App Store !
Apple, the Apple logo, iPod, and iTunes are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. iPhone is a trademark of Apple Inc.