If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, you know what “milk of the poppy” is. You know that it is a cure-all in Westeros. It is used as a pain-killer and anesthetic – allowing for surgical procedures to be performed in a time where there were no IVs. Game of Thrones is fantasy, but milk of the poppy is not. This milky substance that comes from poppies is known as opium.
Many drugs we know of today have botanical origins (which is one of the reasons why I’m so obsessed with medical cannabis right now). Opium has been used for thousands of years for medicinal purposes. Over the years, scientists were able to break down the components of opium, determine how it affects the human body, and figured out how to synthetically mimic the molecular make-up allowing for the creation of opioids.
Opioids are at the center of most public health discussions today because they are killing us. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) estimates that 115 people die from an opioid overdose every day. Some of these are a result of illegal opioids (i.e., heroin) and others are related to prescription drugs (i.e., oxycodone, morphine, and fentanyl).
The growing dependence and popularity of opioids (combined with the internet and capitalism) has resulted in a flood of websites that are promoting and selling un-approved, fake versions of these drugs. So, if the FDA-approved versions don’t scare you enough, you now have the option to purchase copycat drugs that are made by who-knows-who and contains who-knows-what.
The FDA, along with reputable online pharmacies, are working to crack down on these fake pharmacies. On May 29th, the FDA issued a series of warning letters to 9 companies covering a total of 53 websites that were fraudulently and illegally selling unapproved opioids. Opioids should be taken only when absolutely necessary. They should be prescribed in small doses and should be dispensed only by licensed pharmacies. If you use an online pharmacy, you can protect yourself by ensuring that it is licensed here.
In my last post “Bionic Bodies”, I told you all about my ankle injury. After surgery, and once my nerve block wore off, they prescribed me Percocet. I refused it. Don’t be afraid to have open and honest conversations about opioid use with everyone – family, friends, and physicians. One surgery, illness, or disease can easily lead to an opioid prescription, dependency, and abuse.
Protect yourself. Resist ignorance. And as always…