FACT: ‘Pain pills can lead to heroin ad­dic­tion’

The Trentonian (Trenton, NJ) - - FRONT PAGE - Jeff Edel­stein Jeff Edel­stein is a colum­nist for The Trentonian. He can be reached at jedel­[email protected] trentonian.com, face­book. com/jef­freyedel­stein and @ jeffedel­stein on Twit­ter.

Seat belts save lives. The Mets se­ri­ally dis­ap­point. Santa goes down the chim­ney. I like big butts. You don’t slurp soup.

These are just facts of life. Ev­ery­one knows them. There are mil­lions more.

Here’s one to add to the list: Opi­oid use can very eas­ily lead to heroin ad­dic­tion.

Re­peat af­ter me: Opi­oid use can very eas­ily lead to heroin ad­dic­tion.

This, to me, should be right up there on the knowl­edge tree with your ABCs and 123s. Which is why I’m both sur­prised and dis­ap­pointed by a study re­leased by a Part­ner­ship for a Drug Free New Jersey (in con­junc­tion with FDU PublicMind poll) the other day.

Dis­ap­pointed, be­cause ac­cord­ing to the study, *only* 69 per­cent of par­ents with school-age chil­dren think there is a link be­tween pre­scribed opi­oid painkillers (for such things as sports in­juries and wis­dom teeth re­moval) and heroin ad­dic­tion.

Sur­prised, be­cause the Part­ner­ship for a Drug Free New Jersey thinks this is a good num­ber.

“Par­ents are the first and most im­por­tant line of de­fense for pre­ven­tion,” PDFNJ Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor An­gelo Va­lente said in a press re­lease. “It is en­cour­ag­ing that more par­ents are be­com­ing in­formed on this is­sue and are bet­ter equipped to take pre­ven­tive ac­tions to keep their chil­dren safe and healthy.”

Se­ri­ously: To me, this is like the Part­ner­ship for Hey Dum­mies Wear Your Seat Belts crow­ing about how 69 per­cent of peo­ple think there is a link be­tween wear­ing your seat belt and not cat­a­pult­ing through your wind­shield if you get rear-ended.

At this point of the heroin (and opi­oid, and now fen­tanyl) epi­demic we have here in New Jersey, you’d think we’d all be pretty well-versed on the fact pre­scribed opi­ates are the gate­way drug of gate­way drugs. And not just pills pre­scribed to you; pre­scribed pills in gen­eral. A Na­tional In­sti­tutes of Health study found heroin users were 19 times more likely than non-heroin users to have used opi­oids be­fore try­ing heroin, and 86 per­cent of heroin users first used opi­oids.

This is not a ca­sual re­la­tion­ship. This a di­rect, deadly, link.

And *only* 69 per­cent of New Jersey par­ents are aware of it.

“There are peo­ple out there that don’t know the sun comes out in the morn­ing,” said Kevin Meara, the Hamil­ton res­i­dent and for­mer coun­cil­man who founded City of An­gels, a nonprofit ded­i­cated to help­ing peo­ple strug­gling with ad­dic­tion, which was launched af­ter his son, K.C., died of an heroin over­dose in 2008. “It’s a shame, but peo­ple go through life fat, dumb, and happy, and I’m not say­ing that in a neg­a­tive way. I en­joyed life when I was fat, dumb, and happy. There’s just a lot of peo­ple not clued into it. I was one of them, be­fore K.C.’s death.”

Meara said his group works tire­lessly to get the word out to par­ents about the risks of giv­ing their kids opi­oid painkillers.

“No, 69 per­cent is not ac­cept­able, but I can un­der­stand be­cause of what I’ve ex­pe­ri­enced over the last 10 years,” he said. “If ev­ery­thing is go­ing good for you in your fam­ily, you’re just not clued in. But you have to be clued in. Lis­ten, I’m not a pro­fes­sional, I’m just a dad who buried his kid. But from the in­side, I can un­der­stand. I see it hap­pen ev­ery­day. I still see par­ents clue­less.”

To be fair, I didn’t think much about this topic un­til a few years back. I mean, I knew I wasn’t go­ing to start shoot­ing heroin, and my kids were so young I didn’t need to worry about them do­ing it.

And then my then-4-year-old got her ton­sils out.

She was pre­scribed opi­oids for the pain.

Didn’t think twice about giv­ing the meds to her. I fig­ured she was in pain, and it would help.

Now un­der­stand: This is my daugh­ter who has some in­tel­lec­tual dis­abil­i­ties. Get­ting an­swers out of her isn’t al­ways the eas­i­est row to hoe. So when, af­ter a few days, she ap­proached us and asked straight-out for the medicine, we were blown away.

We con­tin­ued to be blown away in the days and weeks af­ter she stopped tak­ing the medicine, be­cause she kept ask­ing for it.

Pretty much right then and there I de­cided my kids will never in­gest a pre­scribed opi­oid, post­surgery or post-in­jury, pe­riod, end of story. Sorry you broke your leg kid, here’s a Tylenol PM.

I refuse to give my kids pills that can lead them all too eas­ily down the path of ad­dic­tion. Not hap­pen­ing.

And while I can’t tell other par­ents what to do with their kids, I can use this perch to help spread the word to the 31 per­cent of par­ents who in­ex­pli­ca­bly, here in 2018, haven’t re­al­ized the di­rect con­nec­tion be­tween pain pills and ad­dic­tion.

Wear your seat belts. En­joy big butts. Don’t give your kids opi­oids when a few Advil will suf­fice.

U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO IL­LUS­TRA­TION/TECH. SGT. MARK R. W. OR­DERS-WOEMPNER

Pre­scrip­tion pain pills are seen dumped out on a ta­ble at Gris­som Air Re­serve Base, Ind.

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