Guest opinion: Pill culture more dangerous than gun culture?
Ryan Summerlin January 18, 2013
After horrific events like the Sandy Hook shooting, things get even messier at every level of government. From the top down, our elected officials sit and hash out their ideas in the form of more control.
But, it’s what they are not debating that is more dangerous than the result of any weapon sales. Unlike firearms, this killer is more readily available to millions, cheaper, does not require a background check, and kills far more people annually than any gun statistics they can skew. The true epidemic isn’t mortality rates from firearms or mass shootings, it’s something we see as non-threatening and for some reason overlook: prescription drugs.
I decided to do a little research through the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment since, after all, their entire mission is to provide vital statistics and information for public health safety concerns. So what type of information can be found while searching “prescription drug overdose?” Not a single bit of information is provided, not one public warning, not one mortality statistic, not one bit of advice on prescription drug abuse. In order to obtain real information about my topic, I had to contact their statistics department and request they send me poison statistics in Colorado.
In 2011, there were 399 “poison” deaths in the state of Colorado. Out of the 399, 373 of those deaths were from drugs (more than double from 137 overall, and 121 drug related deaths in 2000). Out of those total 373 drug deaths in 2011, there were 259 “unintentional” or accidental drug deaths, while “intentional” deaths i.e. suicide counted for 82.
The public believes street drugs are to blame, yet overdoes by heroin were 22, by cocaine 25; combined those make up 47 people killed by cocaine and heroin in 2011. But what are the numbers like for the other categories like legal prescription drugs? Poisoning by “other opioids” was 92, by “opioid analgesics” (includes opioids other than heroin, i.e. prescription narcotics), 136 died in this category of prescribed drugs. That is nearly three times the number of deaths from heroin and cocaine combined.
Tricyclic, tetracyclic, and unspecified antidepressants accounted for a total of 40 people, nearly as many as the above mentioned illicit drugs. Poisoning by unspecified antipsychotics and neuroleptics contributed to nine deaths, rounding it out with “psycho stimulants with abuse potential” accounting for 23 deaths. There were also other categories that provided no numerical statistics.
Now people are calling for bans on the means in which these mass shootings occur, but fail to address the reason or cause. Let’s look at these mass shooting villains themselves.
There are several common traits with these individuals. Most are white males from middle to upper middle class families, living in suburban areas. They are out-casted teens and tweens, that don’t find a fit into common social peer groups. They have all shown signs of mental disorders, yet rather than being addressed properly, are given a less involved dosage of mind-altering prescribed medication. How can anyone blame law abiding, responsible gun owners, when the real culprit is what’s being combined with the weapon to create chaos? How is it that no one brings in BIG Pharma or the FDA to share responsibility and explain why so many deadly drugs are being shoved down our throats at alarming rates, leading to sudden death, violent crime, addiction, suicide and mass shootings?
How many people must die before we declare public outrage and a need for special legislative sessions?
We have many different “gun” cultures in the U.S., some good, some bad, but there is only one “pill” culture, and it bears an ugly mask of addiction and death. As long as we continue to overlook the real issue, these shootings will continue. Restricting our guns will not stop parents and doctors from taking the easy way out by giving our children a manipulative pill that will provide them with years of addiction, isolation, increase in violent behavior, accidental and intentional death. The saddest part of this epidemic is that is no one will treat it as such, and unlike the victims of Sandy Hook, we are willingly taking death pills and giving them to our children.
In 2011 in Colorado there were very few shooting victims, yet prescription drugs killed hundreds, and these numbers do not include crime or violence committed in obtaining or the street sales of prescription opioids. Nationwide, there were 15,000 people killed from overdoses on prescription pain medication, which does not include the number of deaths from the other above-mentioned medications. That number is nearly 25,000 annually, compared to less than 9,000 from firearms.
Yet, the same people that sold thousands of assault weapons to drug cartels are telling us that responsible gun owners are to blame for mass shootings, and fail to recognize the true cause: Isolation + government medication = mass shootings. If the media will demonize a certain manufacturer or caliber of weapon by stating the make and model used in a mass shooting, they should also include the type of medication the villain was on at the time of the shooting. Misinformation and political agendas have placed blinders on the public, and the true “epidemic” in this country has gone unnoticed, killing between 15,000 and 25,000 annually, all while making billions for the drug companies and the politicians that aid them in pushing their deadly mass controlling drugs.
I have lost half a dozen friends to this “pill” culture, but I can’t even count one that died from gun violence. For more information about the dangers of prescription drugs, go to : www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns , November 2011 edition. Contact your state representatives and demand that this public health concern be addressed and researched, then maybe people will realize it’s not what’s in their safes or closets that we need to worry about, it is what’s in our medicine cabinets that is destroying this country.
Concerned Granby resident