NOTE: Transition words are words that are often used to begin paragraphs and link your writing to the previous paragraph. Generally, they show a relationship by illustrating contrast, consequences, emphasis or sequence. The ones that fit this text will be:
, the word opioid is omnipresent in American news. As a matter of fact, the federal government has declared a war against opioids, but it does not seem to be winning. Opioids are a class of drugs that include everything from heroin to legal prescription pain relievers such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine and morphine.
, opioids are narcotics, sometimes legal, sometimes illegal, that produce morphine-like effects. They are familiar to most of us in some form or another, as they are used for anesthesia, diarrhea, constipation, cough suppressants, pain relief, and even veterinary use. But too many people abuse them.
, more than 115 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose, according to the National Institute on Drug Addiction. Many of these opioids are prescription pain relievers, including ones that contain Fentanyl, which is an opioid analgesic that is 50 – 100 times more powerful than morphine. Fentanyl is produced both legally and illegally. It is usually prescribed to patients who have severe pain, such as post-operative pain. The government estimates that the total “economic burden” of prescription opioid misuse in the USA is about $78.5 billion a year, and that includes healthcare, addiction treatment, criminal involvement, and lost productivity.
, opioids can be made from the chemical that comes from *poppy plants, such as morphine, or can be synthesized in a laboratory. The word itself comes from the word opium. What opioids actually do is to impersonate endorphins, which are your brain chemicals. Our natural endorphins serve as messengers between nerve cells and are called neurotransmitters.
, when one of our brain cells releases endorphin molecules naturally, they float over to another cell and bind to receptor molecules. They sit the outside of a target cell. The endorphin’s shape fits into the receptor like a key into a lock. When they connect, the receptor can turn on – or off – whatever is going on inside the host cell. These receptors for endorphins exist in your brain’s pleasure center and on nerve cells that send off pain signals. In other words, your body naturally fights pain and/or sends off signals of pleasure.
, when opioid medications travel hrought your blood, they attach to the opioid receptors in your brain cells, and these cells send off signals that muffle your perception of pain and increase your feelings of pleasure. The problem is that they are much more powerful than our homemade endorphins. The medications can send off signals of intense pleasure, and they can fight pain far more effectively that our bodies’ natural chemicals. That is probably a good thing if you have just had an arm or a leg amputated. But it is definitely not a good thing if you are suffering from back pain because of poor posture or spending too much time on your computer.
, opioids are more effective than our bodies’ natural chemicals. Because they work so fast, and many times produce pleasure, people want to take them again. And again. And the more often a person takes these substances, the more the body will become tolerant of them. Soon, the body will need more and more of an opioid to feel good again. And that’s where many Americans are now.
, if a person becomes dependent on an opioid, that person will suffer from withdrawal if and when they try to stop using them. As a matter of fact, people can suffer from withdrawal every time the effect of just one opioid wears off. That can mean nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, sleep problems, anxiety and many more symptoms, depending on the person.
, opioids wouldn’t do any harm if people used them are prescribed. But many people don’t. The increase in death by opioids is so high now that it has actually changed the life expectancy in the United States. Low doses of opioid medications usually make people feel sleepy. Higher doses can slow breathing and heart rates, which can lead to death. And pleasurable effects from any dosage can cause those good feelings, which can, in turn, lead to addiction.
, the most recent data available states that that in 2016, 42,000 people died in the U.S.A. because of drug overdoses and 40% of those deaths were from opioid overdoses. Many of those people mixed their opioids with other medication without medical supervision, others were afraid of withdrawal because they couldn’t obtain any more prescriptions, and they mixed multiple drugs or alcohol to compensate for not being able to buy more medication legally. As you can guess, depressants are the other most abused prescription medication, and very dangerous when mixed with opioids. Probably all of that 40% thought that other people could overdose, but not them. All 50 states in the USA keep a medication on hand called Naloxone (or sometimes Narcan), which can reverse an overdose of opioids or a combination of opioids with other drugs.
I was born near the end of WWII and raised in a small town in New Jersey, just a little more than a 30-minute drive from NYC. It was a wonderful place to be brought up, feeding ducks and canoeing on the river that meandered through the town in the summer, and ice-skating on that same river in the winter.
My two brothers and I were privileged to be raised in a lovely town that was safe to explore on foot, but close enough to NYC to be taken there on day trips to see the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Baily B & B circus, museums, Chinatown, street fairs in the spring and Broadway shows as we grew older. But we thought nothing of it.
Later as teens, we would go into NYC to buy a couple of beers (the drinking age in New York State was 18, and 21 in New Jersey) and hang out in Greenwich Village where we saw singers such as Bob Dylan who were on the first rung of the ladder on their way to fame.
The sixties were a time of speaking out and creating change. I decided to do my part by joining the Peace Corps, an innovative cold war program established by John F. Kennedy in 1961. I arrived in Brazil at the end of 1966, and after an adaptation period, was sent to serve in Porto Nacional, in what was Goias at that time. I can’t say I changed the course of the country, especially as I was immediately called upon to teach English in the local high school.
I have been teaching ever since; high schools, college literature, college language pedagogy, financial English and everything in-between. I married a wonderful Brazilian from Rio and we had 3 boys and moved around some, as he was an engineer who worked on hydro dams. Nowadays I am a widow and live in BH with 3 cats, one of which has extraordinary powers, and I have 4 wonderful and uniquely different grandchildren nearby. Thus far, I have had an interesting life, and this new endeavor called a blog should make it even more interesting.