Is the Fun Worth the Pain

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Is the Fun Worth the Pain

Shaylin Cunningham

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by Shaylin Cunningham

The opioid crisis getting worse due to painkillers being prescribed more and more often. What can we do to stop this epidemic? For every 100 Americans, 58 opioids were prescribed. In the year 2017, there were 70,200 deaths occurred due to opioids. 1

Opioids are medications prescribed by doctors to treat persistent or severe pain. The different types of opioids are Codeine, Fentanyl, Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, Oxymorphone, and Morphine. These medications often are sold under brand names such as OxyContin, Percocet, Palladone, and Vicodin.2 They are used for different levels of pain.

Opioid-related deaths increased 8 times from 1999 to 2017 in the U.S. as a whole. There are 23 states that have a statistically lower rate of overdose of opioids than the U.S as a whole. There are 5 states that have a statistically same rate of overdose of opioids the U.S as a whole. There are 22 states that have a statistically higher rate of overdose of opioids than the U.S as a whole.1

In 2016, there were 349 opioid-related overdose deaths­­­ in New Mexico—a rate of 17.5 deaths per 100,000 persons—compared to the national rate of 13.3 deaths per 100,000. Prescription opioids increased through 2014, but since then have decreased from 257 to 186 deaths. 1

Close to Home

16 year old Cameron, a student in our community,  was a compassionate young man, a wrestler, and was in AP classes. Cameron broke his collar bone, got pain meds like so many other athletes. After 6 months of using pain killers,  he switched to heroin. He was sober for a year, in and out of treatment centers and jail, but eventually relapsed. He overdosed on August 13, 2011 and died.3



  • Confusion and lack of coordination
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Dry Mouth
  • Weakness, dizziness, sleepiness
  • Constricted pupils
  • Watery or droopy eyes
  • Nausea, vomiting, and constipation
  • Respiratory depression (inadequate ventilation)
  • Sleep deprivation or “nodding”
  • Slow, slurred speech
  • Slow gait
  • Dry skin, itching, or skin infections
  • Constant flue-like symptoms
  • Bruises or “track marks” (if injecting)1

People may believe that drugs provide relief but in the end, there will always be consequences. Don’t be a victim of overdose or drugs. If you suspect a friend or family member may be abusing opioids, don’t wait; seek professional help immediately. You may be the difference between life and death.

For more information on Cameron’s story go to this website: