The Conners Spotlights the Opioid Overdose Crisis

It started last season when the topic of opioid addiction took center stage on the hit show, Roseanne. In typical Roseanne Barr fashion, the show’s matriarchal character faces a controversial topic head-on after a real-life knee injury. Dating back to the original series, the show has been known for its authentic storylines about the problems facing middle-class America. The storyline came to a head in the spinoff show, The Conners, when an opioid overdose killed off Barr’s character.

Is the Opioid Overdose Crisis a Middle-Class Epidemic?

Recent research has studied the sociocultural and socioeconomic underpinnings of the opioid overdose crisis. Studies found that those without a college degree, especially whites, (i.e. working class families) are particularly vulnerable to opioid overdose deaths and other deaths of despair. Over decades, those without a college degree have experienced erosion in social and economic stability, leading to an increase in pain complaints.

 

Opioid Painkillers Can Kill When Misused

Misuse of painkillers represents more than three-fourths of the overall problem of prescription drug abuse. An average of one in 20 people in the U.S. (12 and older) admits to non-medical use of prescription painkillers. In fact, prescription painkillers cause 60% of overdose deaths in America s. Every day, more than 115 people in the United States die after overdosing on opioids.

 

How Did the Opioid Overdose Crisis Happen?

In the late 1990’s pharmaceutical companies reassured the medical community that opioid painkillers were not addictive. Doctors increasingly prescribed opioids for pain management and, as a result, opioid overdose rates began to climb. Experts estimate that between 8-10% of patients who are prescribed opioids become addicted. The character Roseanne represents one of these 8-10% people who used opioids for pain management and became dependent. In the show, struck by the overwhelming cost of knee surgery (like many Americans), Roseanne tried to deal with her pain. Once she became addicted, her TV husband Dan found a way to get her surgery so they could overcome her addiction. But in the end, Roseanne Conner overdosed on opioids. Sadly, this fictional storyline rings true for far too many in our country.

 

If you or a loved one is struggling with prescription opioids, call us right away. You are not alone and there is nothing to be ashamed about. We can help you fight this and get your life back.

 

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