How Opioids Were Widely Misunderstood By The Surfing Community

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One of the most troubling aspects of the opioid crisis is the general lack of understanding surrounding the issue. This is most exemplified in our perception of the biggest culprit: Opioids themselves. From the surface, Oxycontin (or Oxycodone) seems like just another prescription drug, and that misperception has only amplified the crisis. Unfortunately, for so long, we’ve assumed that since they’re so easily obtainable from the doctor or the pharmacy, they can’t be too bad for us. Otherwise, why would doctors be prescribing them left and right?

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Dr. Andrew Kolodny, an opioid addiction specialist, explains how that’s not the case. In fact, there’s no distinction between these prescription painkillers and the narcotic heroin. Put plainly, they’re heroin pills. A study was done at Columbia University where heroin users were allowed to self-administer both in a blind taste test. The results found that the users didn’t perceive a difference between the two.

On top of his struggle with bipolar disorder, Andy Irons was also ensnared by a severe addiction to opioids. His friends had realized that his drug habits had changed him, but were unaware of how dangerous the situation really was. Most notable was the fact that Irons had stopped freesurfing in between competitions and at some points even struggled to keep composure when he participated in events. “Yeah. One in the morning, one at lunch, maybe, one at night,” explained Joel Parkinson, who witnessed Irons’ habits firsthand. “And I remember just going, ‘Man, those things are just deadly.’ And then, I guess, I didn't realize how far they'd spread. They were in pretty deep in Hawaii, so a lot of the boys...they were poisonous, those things,” said Parkinson, looking back out how the crisis plagued the surfing community.


If you suspect you or someone you know may be suffering from a bipolar disorder, please, contact the SAMHSA national helpline.

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