The world completely stopped when the beloved Glee star, Corey Monteith, was pronounced dead in 2013. In a recent article by People magazine, Monteith’s mother, Ann McGregor, revealed that before Monteith’s death, he was on prescription pain medicine for a major dental surgery. His death was a common tragedy that is happening due to the opioid epidemic.
Monteith has always had a history of drug abuse and addiction; he was working on his sobriety and was in and out of rehab. Before his death, he was checked into a year long rehab facility, but then his dental surgery, putting him on prescribed pain medications, staggered his sobriety. When he died, there were traces of morphine, codeine, and heroin, however not a lethal amount. He died due to his now low tolerance to these drugs, due to his intermittent sobriety.
The tragedy that fell upon Monteith is something that has become commonplace in the United States. In 2016, there was an estimated 62, 497 opioid related deaths. This is due to overprescribing painkillers and their highly addictive nature.
The opioid epidemic has been declared a public health emergency, and is ravaging communities rich and poor. The over-prescription of painkillers has been a proven link to it’s deadlier and more addictive counterpart, heroin.
Heroin is an opiate, meaning it came straight from the poppy plant itself. Prescription painkillers contain the man-made opioid, which is the synthetic version of opiates created to give the same pain relief through the opiate receptors in the brain.
Since the chemical breakdown of these drugs is so similar, it has become a common transition to start with painkillers and eventually delve into heroin use. Nearly 50% of heroin users abused painkillers before using heroin.
The reason being price and accessibility. Prescription painkillers can be hard to come by once users no longer have a prescription. On the street, painkillers can cost as much as $80 a pill. Heroin, on the other hand, is (frighteningly) easy to come by, and can be sold as cheap as $10.
The fact that there is over-prescription of painkillers happening all across the country, a pipeline to heroin use is being created. When people are addicted to a certain high, they will stop at nothing to achieve it. So, once painkillers become inevitably unavailable to the abuser, said person will likely turn to heroin, and will most likely become an addict. This is what we are seeing happen to citizens across the nation every day.