Are pain killers worth the price?
November 9, 2019
Last year, 10.3 million people in the United States overused prescription opioids, a common gateway to opioid addiction. These millions of victims seem like just numbers in a news article, but for senior Jake Sokoloski, this statistic became personal.
“The summer before my junior year, I broke my nose, so they had to set it back. The whole left side of my face was in pain,” Sokoloski said. “All the nerves connect in your face, so everything hurt. They prescribed me opioids to help.”
Despite being in extraordinary pain, opioids weren’t a good option for him.
“I was prescribed four pills every four hours, but my dad gave me two pills only once,” Sokoloski said. “In the moment, I was relieved to use two, but overall, I’m glad I didn’t continue. I never used them again. I stuck with Advil.”
But if the pills helped the pain, why didn’t he continue using them?
“Ultimately, it was my dad who prevented me from taking more,” Sokoloski said. “My painkillers worked. For a couple hours I didn’t feel any pain. But opiates are also super dangerous to use, and it’s much safer if you just decide not to use it even if it’s prescribed.”
However, avoidance of opioids is easier said than done. Pharmaceutical companies in the United States make huge profits off of prescription opioids each year by keeping the drugs in circulation in hospitals, drugstores, and over-the-counter prescriptions. These narcotics are most commonly given to patients with chronic or temporary pain from injuries or surgeries, including wisdom tooth extraction, a relatively common procedure among high school students. Although not as common as getting four wisdom teeth pulled, Sokoloski’s surgery demonstrates the common problem with prescription drugs and addiction.
“I know some people use street drugs, but it was given to me in pill form by a doctor,” Sokoloski said. “Doctors have to be more careful with who they’re prescribing opioids to. I think if I had gone through the whole bottle, I might have had a problem. It’s strong stuff.”
Sokoloski’s experience taught him the value of questioning what he consumes, but some patients really do require strong pain medication after an extreme injury or surgery.
“Because opioids are so effective, there’s no real way around it,” Sokoloski said. “I would have used them. My dad protected me from myself, and I have to thank him for that.”