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Prescription Painkillers: Killing More Than Pain

By: Ethan Bickelhaupt

By: Ethan Bickelhaupt

Over the last 10 years there has been an enormously towering issue casting a shadow on our American way of life that has reached far beyond anything anyone could have imagined.  A new foe has made itself evident in the now decades long so called “War on Drugs” growing with ISIS like proportions and leaving behind thousands of victims of in its wake.  While we have long waged war on drugs and on those who supply them, the fight has become increasingly more complex where the enemy, much like ISIS, is hiding in plain sight. In fact, you may have been affected by this foe in one way or another and if you’re one of the thousands of Americans who struggle with chronic pain, chances are this enemy lives right in the comfort of your own home. Yes, we’re talking about prescription painkillers and what was once originally meant to kill pain is now killing human beings.  According to the National Institute of Health, in 2014, “approximately one out of twenty Americans reported misuse or abuse of prescription painkillers.” It has literally become the fastest growing drug issue we face as a nation.

The suppliers, however, are no longer limited to street corner thugs and other stereotypical apothecaries of the night. Today, suppliers are often well dressed, white collar workers who wear a suit and tie...perhaps even a lab coat. The market for prescription painkillers is wide and supplier pockets are deep. And with the ever increasing need for painkillers among Americans, this fight seems to have no end in sight. Deaths due to prescription painkillers have been long attributed to overdoses, but according to The Fix’s May Wilkerson, “A new study suggests that highly addictive painkillers may also contribute to heart related death and other fatalities, meaning opioids could be even more dangerous than we think.” Imagine that. In addition to potentially fatal overdoses, those who who have become victims of these highly addictive painkillers also face the threat of not only moving toward the abuse of other illegal drugs like heroin, but may also experience breathing issues, “irregular heartbeats, heart attacks or sudden death.” (see reference below)

The enormity of the prescription painkiller epidemic goes far beyond the threat of overdose but can serve as a gateway to a host of other health issues and addictions. The CDC has recommended that doctors only prescribe these types of painkillers if absolutely necessary. And programs are being put in place to help in the fight against this issue. Medical facilities and treatment centers are also providing state of the art techniques to help manage pain in a way that doesn’t require pills at all. The important thing to recognize is that prescription painkillers don’t have to be the end all be all of pain management. It is important to seek out the right help necessary to not just accommodate your need for pain relief but to address the problem at its root. Knowledge is the most important gain one should always receive from their pain.


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By: Ethan Bickelhaupt

By: Ethan Bickelhaupt

The union of affluence and influence is a powerful one. Often times, where there is one, there you’ll find the other. Being a person of wealth, while perhaps challenging at times, brings a certain sense of comfort. It releases the burden of having to be a “slave to the lender”. Money talks, it’s what makes the world go round, in fact, there’s the old adage that suggests money answereth everything. When you’re rich, there isn’t much you can’t do and if you can’t do something, you pay someone who can. Most people strive to be wealthy for that purpose. The idea of having a carefree life full of luxury and financial freedom seems epic. No cares in the world, no one to answer to, no having to get up early to go to a job you don’t like, kissing up to people who don’t appreciate you and doing your best to earn your part of the “American Dream”. Most of us want that “pie in the sky”. It makes us feel as though we are safe, there’s the idea that wealth brings security. If you’re rich, you haven't a problem in the world. Right?

For most people who have a keen understanding about life in general and with social media giving us a closer look into the lives of the more fortunate, we all know that in reality, a lot of this isn’t true. In fact, when it comes to having money, there aren’t many people who can sum it up so eloquently as one iconic street poet did when he said that where there’s “Mo’ Money” there’s “Mo’ Problems.” People chase the green like a good golf swing, it’s natural to want, but at what cost? There have even been reported horror stories of lottery winners who have won mega jack pots, enough to last them generations, but because of a lack of understanding on how to maintain said wealth, have gone bankrupt within 5 years of becoming “newly rich”. It doesn’t take a Harvard study to figure out that having wealth doesn’t mean not having problems and it’s from this foundation where we address this myth.


While it is true that drug and alcohol addiction tends to be more prevalent among lower income households, some attribute it to the fact that lack of higher education and the lack of knowledge and understanding on how to deal with life’s problems can contribute to the overall addiction issue ( But does a lack of understanding discriminate between the rich and the poor? Do life’s problems affect one more than the other? Absolutely not. In fact, according to the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids

"The Contra Costa Times reported Feb. 19 that disposable income, disconnected families, and pressure to succeed all contribute to drug use among upscale youth, adding that parents in these communities add to the problem by denying that it occurs." -DrugFree.Org

The same can be true of adults. Being disconnected, overworked, feeling inadequate and not able to handle the pressure of keeping up with the Jones’ (or Kardashians as it were) can contribute to the rise in substance abuse and addiction within people of affluence. Add to that the access of disposable income and there you have the perfect storm. The impact can result not only in the loss of wealth, but families, friends and overall livelihood. The cycle then comes full circle when there’s the feeling that there is no one person or thing to turn to accept that which has caused the initial downfall. As it has been said before, addiction does not discriminate. It does not care who you are, what you do, what your social status is, what influence you hold on any particular person or parcel of prominence. Addiction is an equal opportunity destroyer and it has no qualms in taking out any and all who stand in its path. It’s what it was born to do. But is that the end of your story? 

It doesn’t have to be. While it may seem cliche, the reality is that hope, help and healing are just a phone call away. No pressure, no prejudice, just Parkdale. We’re available to help get you what you need so you can get where you’re going. Become the person you were meant to be. It all begins with giving us a call. 

For more information on Parkdale Center you can visit us at We look forward to hearing your story and hopefully adding a new chapter. 

The Realism Of Drug Addiction


I knew all about my craft.  I am was in total control.  How was this any different from a dietitian modifying their intake or a trainer using his background to sculpt his body?  “I’m doing this under the safest of conditions”, was my maxim.  “If I just stick with clean supplies and remember to use sterile technique then I’ll be just fine.”  These were the thoughts echoing through my opiate addled mind as I propped myself up between the toilet and the sink in the single occupancy bathroom that I had turned into my own personal opium den.

I loved everything about it.  The ritual always culminated in a wave of feel-good euphoria as I drifted further into the warm embrace of my drugs.  And it was any drug.  Anything I could get my hands on was sufficient after my initial sample platter of experimentation.  I wasn’t picky.  I was an unlikely mix of anxious and groggy but I wasn’t picky.  I’d show up to any case any time and I’d definitely stay late!  As a matter of fact I’d dread vacations.  A time to enjoy my family and friends and to relax was spent withdrawing in misery.

I was always managing.  For a type A personality like me, whether I created the chaos or not, I got a kick out of solving things.  The craving and using cycle could be quite painful but at some level it was an end in and of itself.  To slyly divert a drug, steal off into the bowls of the hospital and untangle all the knots in my stomach was a thrilling ride.  It created a solvable problem that I could manage quite adeptly.  There was something sexy about anesthetizing a patient only minutes after tying off my foot with a tourniquet and injecting myself with drugs.  After the injection I would quickly remove the tourniquet and from my thrown on the bathroom floor raise my foot in the air as if to salute the drug as gravity hastened it’s journey to my heart. 

My heart often skipped a beat.  Whether it was when the warmth of the drug hit my chest or when I almost got caught injecting while crouching beneath the surgical table pretending I was checking my various monitoring equipment.  However, like Icarus, you can only fly that close to the sun for so long before you come crashing down. 

My run at juggling addiction and medicine didn’t last very long.  In fact, the last day that I worked I knew it was the day that I would get caught.  I had a very good idea of what was to come in the form of lost licenses, court dates, and unemployment but I couldn’t stop myself.  This is what addiction looks like but there is always hope.  The journey to put the pieces back together is far from over but it helps me to revisit these memories.  Not as a euphoric recall but as a warning of where I’ve been and where I can easily go again...