No Accident in Overdose

Amy Tryon, an Olympic Equestrian medalist, died at the age of 42. I am sure that this is a grave loss to her family and friends and the equestrian sports community. To them, I send my sincere condolences. I truly am sorry that Amy Tryon is dead but I am even sorrier to learn of her cause of death.

What exactly is an “accidental overdose?”  This newfangled addition to the English language is becoming more and more pervasive in the culture of our society and sending a negative message to children and adults alike. How exactly does an individual who willingly indulges in prescription drugs or who has been identified and/or recognized as being an addict, earn the right to have their “death by drugs” coined an accident. Are people truly oblivious to the cocktails of death they are imbibing when they combine the likes of: Darvocet, Valium, Xanax, Oxycodone, diphenhydramine and  Alprazolam, Diazepam, Lorazepam and Temazepam, Vicodin or Percocet?   I am not a health professional, but dare I question  the expertise of medical examiners across the nation?  I would like to know the guidelines in declaring a person’s death an accidental overdose opposed to intentional. I have yet to read that Mr. or Mrs. Suchy-Such finally died today after several failed attempts to overdose and I doubt that I ever will.

In addition to reading headlining news of the growing list of celebrity types who have died from accidental overdoses, such as Thomas Kinkade, Heath Ledger, Gerald Levert and Anna Nicole Smith,  I came across a recent FaceBook post that read, “I really need to stop taking this Percocet.” My reply was a silent plea, “yes you should.”  Percocet is used to relieve moderate to severe pain and is a combination of acetaminophen and oxycodone. Oxycodone is known to be habit-forming and highly addictive. I hope this person who is taking Percocet for “killer” tooth pain, was advised by her prescribing doctor or dentist to be treated immediately.  Yet this is how it begins, an innocuous effort to curb the pain of a valid affliction with a legally prescribed drug. And why not? Who wants to suffer unnecessary pain and what doctor with a lick of compassion would allow you to do so?  The whole idea seems inhumane.  However, pain is an indication that there is something wrong and as a result you are provoked to do something about it. Drugs, of any kind, mask the discomfort you feel and provide you with a pseudo- coping mechanism which then becomes a crutch. Without its support, you fall hopelessly.

At the risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist, the prescription drug business is a major money-making operation and all the key players are a part of the health care industry. With all the hype surrounding the health care debate, I have not heard of an aggressive approach to tackle the prescription drug issue that continues to claim the lives of so many. Or rather, I have not heard of any high yielding results of the Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Plan which is part of President Obama’s National Drug Control Strategy. I firmly agree with the steps in the process, we need to educate our communities, track and monitor prescription drug programs and shut down pill mills nationwide. But above all, we need to track and monitor the implementation of the policies to ensure its happening. Especially since ongoing news reports indicate that prescription drug abuse is still chronic and people are still dying at alarmingly high rates.

I want to embark upon a crusade and join others that want to eradicate this trend, those who will boldly proclaim that there is no accident in overdose and seek to save the lives of precious, talented people eaten up with pain and swallowed alive by prescription drugs.  Will you join me?

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