Mr. or Mrs. President
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. or Mrs. President,
I am writing to you today about an epidemic taking place in the U.S. today: prescription painkiller and heroin abuse; a disease that most people don't think of as a disease. Over the past few years, heroin and prescription opioid abuse and the related overdose deaths have gone up at an alarming rate. This issue has shown to affect people of all backgrounds, even suburban communities like the one I live in. By regulating the prescription of opioids and providing better treatment for existing addicts, the heroin epidemic could be a thing of the past.
Many heroin users start off using prescription painkillers. Even when prescribed legally, people can still abuse their painkillers and develop a dependence. Once a person has developed an opioid dependence, they need the drug or else they will feel sick, and because heroin is cheaper and more powerful than prescription pills, that's what many addicts turn to. It is estimated that nearly half a million people in the U.S. are addicted to heroin (National Institute on Drug Abuse), and you can bet that many of those addicts started off using pills. Many young athletes have become addicts after being prescribed painkillers for a sports injury. Based off all this evidence, it seems obvious that opioid pain pills should be subject to tougher regulations, or at least the doctors should be forced to be more cautious when prescribing them.
Another problem that contributes to the heroin epidemic is the lack of treatment for addicts. When caught with heroin, many users are put in jail instead of drug addiction treatment programs, which only leads to them using again once they're out of jail. Many studies have shown that addicts are far less likely to relapse after receiving treatment than after being sent to jail. It is simply a waste of resources to send a non-violent drug user to jail.
Some people might say that doctors should be able to give their patients a prescription to help manage pain, and they'd be right, but they should also explore alternatives to opioids so their patients aren't at risk of becoming addicts. Some people may worry about the costs of paying for addicts treatment, but I believe it would be well worth it to prevent overdose deaths and prevent wasting resources sending addicts to jail. This is an epidemic that should be stopped as soon as possible before it becomes any worse.
By doing this we could help end the worst heroin epidemic in U.S. history, and prevent thousands of deaths.