Opioid, e-cigarette reforms urgently needed

Franklin Wells, Writer

There is a major drug problem in America right now.

The opioid crisis is responsible for over 200,000 deaths, and various medical companies churn out addictive drugs while blatantly ignoring the fact that their products are being abused and illegally distributed. These drug companies should help the opioid users overcome their addiction. The least they could do is donate money to addiction help centers and provide naloxone kits to revive people who have overdosed. But this is only one piece of the solution. The federal government should shoulder some of the responsibilities of bringing the nation back to order. They must pass legislation requiring a stricter opioid redistribution and call for more overdose medications to be provided across the country.

The crisis does not stop at opioids. Nicotine is a very addictive drug that has attracted many middle school and high school students. Largely because of illegal use by minors, the vaping market has skyrocketed in the past few years. Marketed for adults, the e-cigarette is a product designed to help smokers eventually quit. Regardless, young people around the country – even at Coronado, unfortunately – have used the products and caused possibly irreparable damage to their health. At the time of publication, 18 people have died and 1,080 have been hospitalized due to vaping-relating lung illnesses. E-cigarette manufacturers need to do more to prevent their products from reaching the hands of youth, as it has become overwhelmingly clear that nicotine is a gateway drug.

Keep in mind though: every drug is a gateway drug if used daily during young adulthood. Whether it is nicotine, alcohol, marijuana, or opioids, it is the age of the person that leaves them susceptible to addiction.  These drugs damage areas of the brain and impair the skills needed to make sound decisions, which in turn furthers the risk of future substance abuse.

The United States cannot let this public health crisis define it. Action needs to be taken by drug companies, makers of vaping products, and the federal government. These catastrophically powerful substances should not be easily accessible; national and corporate policies need to reflect that.

Ultimately, however, the decision to risk an entire lifetime of aspirations and plans remains with the individual. Always consider the consequences, and seek professional help for those struggling with addiction.