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Opioid Epidemic Transcends Class

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In 2016, 116 people died every day from opioid overdoses, and that number has only increased each year. Narcotics have been used by people from all different walks of life, but most people associate drug use with the poorest of neighborhoods. However, those areas are not the only places hard drugs are being distributed. Drugs can obviously be used by anyone in any town, but those who are wealthier and suffer from addiction barely ever share their stories for fear of being judged, hurting their families, or losing their jobs. Recently, the use of drugs has increased dramatically, and many politicians are finally talking about ways to help those with addictions. This drug epidemic is infesting every city in America.

There are a few specific substances that are being used by both the poor and the wealthy alike, including heroin, cocaine, and opioids. Drug addiction is a disease and people can become addicted for numerous different reasons, but one is prevalent within the current crisis. Usually people are prescribed a certain opioid, a painkiller, and they then become addicted to that pill. Those prescription pills can be very expensive, and after a while people tend to substitute heroin for pills to obtain a cheaper high. Heroin is the second most addictive drug, with cocaine being the first.

According to the American Addiction Centers, “Dependence on heroin can manifest rather quickly with regular use,” because the brain then becomes reliant on the drug and cannot control its need for the drug.

There is often a generalization made that drugs affect low-income areas only, and people whoa re part of the upper-middle classes could never become addicted to drugs. Lately, there has been an increased awareness that drug addiction does not only take place in low-income and/or high-crime areas. In a Bloomberg article,  “The Opioid Addict on the Wall Street Trading Floor,” they introduced Trey Laird,  a successful trader at Lazard Capital Markets in Manhattan. He became addicted to OxyContin, and eventually cocaine. He would do 160 milligrams of OxyContin every single day, and eventually he accepted that he needed help. Laird left behind his home in Connecticut to enter a rehab facility, and today he has opened his own rehab facility, Lighthouse, in a Connecticut mansion. To get a room in this house costs  $12,500 a month.

His goal? “To help affluent guys in early recovery who are going through the same thing that I went through,” Laird said.

Those who seem to have the perfect job, family, and life may still need help recovering from drug addiction. Laird is an example that drug use is also in the high rise buildings of millionaire CEOs.  

The drug epidemic, especially in New Jersey, has caused politicians to start talking, to encourage people to get help and discuss ways to stop the spread of drug use. President Donald Trump addressed this drug epidemic on October 26, 2017.

This epidemic is a national health emergency,” he said. “Nobody has seen anything like what is going on now.”

In addition, New Jersey’s former governor, Chris Christie,  has started a campaign called Reach NJ, to show those addicted to drugs that they can get help if they want it. Christie has spent millions of dollars on this campaign in an effort to decrease the number of people who are addicted to these drugs. He would like his work in New Jersey to become a national model. He even has commercials that encourage those addicted to drugs to accept the help they are being offered.  The Reach NJ website lists different groups for those in recovery and for families and children who have loved ones suffering from addiction. The website addresses how during recovery the individual suffering from addiction is not the only one in need.

The opioid epidemic affects the rich and the poor alike. It is important that people raise awareness of how highly addictive opioids are, and what being addicted to painkillers can potentially lead to. Those addicted to drugs, especially opioids, heroin, and cocaine, need motivation and reassurance to get help and begin to live a life free of drugs.


Works Consulted

Abelson, Max, and Jeanna Smialek. “The Opioid Addict on the Wall Street Trading Floor.”, Bloomberg, 19 Oct. 2017,

“How Does Someone Become Addicted to Opioids?” National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teachers, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 29 Jan. 2018,

Secretary, HHS Office of the, and Assistant Secretary of Public Affairs (ASPA). “About the Epidemic.”, US Department of Health and Human Services, 21 Dec. 2017,

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Opioid Epidemic Transcends Class