Last week American actress Stacey Dash talked about her past addiction to Vicodin in an interview with Dr. Oz. Dash, who is best known for portraying Dionne in 1995’s Clueless, said that her addiction made her feel like she had lost everything.
The 54-year-old former Fox News contributor and political analyst believes that when her addiction was at its worst, she was taking 18 to 20 pills a day. She estimated that each month she was spending $5,000 to $10,000 on maintaining her addiction to Vicodin.
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Vicodin And The Opioid Crisis
Hydrocodone, sold under the brand name Vicodin, is a prescription Opioid that is often prescribed as a painkiller for moderate to severe pain. This substance can cause a physical dependency even when taken as prescribed and has a high risk for addiction if misused. Prescription Opioids are considered to be misused if they are taken in a different way than prescribed or without a prescription. When a person begins misusing a substance like Vicodin, it can lead to addiction, overdose, or death.
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For those prescribed Opioids for pain, it is not uncommon for an addiction to form. A 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health stated that 9.7 million people misused prescription pain relievers. Studies have shown that about 20% of those with an Opioid prescription for post surgical pain continue to use the substance for at least 3 months after their procedure. People who smoke, and those who have Bipolar Disorder, depression, or pulmonary hypertension are more vulnerable to developing an addiction to prescription Opioids. When a prescription to an Opioid painkiller runs out, individuals may turn to other, more dangerous substances like Heroin to maintain their addiction.
An addiction to a prescription Opioid, like the one Stacey Dash had, can result in an overdose death which is the leading cause of unintentional injury death in the US. The most commonly present drug class in overdose deaths is Opioids. This has caused an epidemic in the US as nearly 841,000 people have died from an Opioid overdose from 1999 to 2019. The number of Opioid related deaths recorded for 2019 (almost 50,000) is 4 times the number recorded in 1999.
Stacey Dash’s approximation of how much her addiction to Vicodin cost her speaks to a larger question: how much does maintaining an Opioid addiction cost to the average individual and to the US? StreetRX, a website that uses citizen reporting to track the street price of diverted pharmaceutical substances, currently reports that a generic 10 mg Vicodin pill is being sold for $10 in some parts of the country. If someone with an addiction to the substance is taking the same amount as Stacey Dash was, they are likely spending $180 to $200 each day. If this addiction continues and the same amount is taken daily, an individual can spend up to $73,000 a year to maintain their addiction to Vicodin. Other prescription Opioids can be even more costly with substances like Oxycodone recently being listed on StreetRX for $30 a pill. For those who have developed an addiction, Heroin can become a cheaper alternative to prescription Opioids.
In addition to the lives lost, the Opioid crisis has also taken a massive economic toll on the US. The Centers For Disease Control And Prevention (CDC) estimates that prescription Opioid misuse causes a $78.5 billion economic burden on the country each year. This includes the cost of healthcare, lost productivity, and criminal justice involvement. Providing treatment for overdoses, babies who have been born with an Opioid dependency, the transmission of infectious diseases, and related injuries all fall into the healthcare costs category. In 2013, it was reported that of the $78 billion Opioid costs, only $2.8 billion was spent on addiction treatment for Opioid use disorders (OUD).
In comparison, the cost of treating an addiction to prescription Opioids is significantly less than individual and overall national expenses. There are currently 3 FDA approved medications for treating an OUD: Buprenorphine, Methadone, and Naltrexone. These medications work to relieve the withdrawal symptoms and psychological cravings caused by an addiction to prescription Opioids. It is safe for a person using these medications to continue using them for months, years, or for the rest of their lives. The US Department of Defense estimated costs for these medication-assisted treatments as:
Buprenorphine treatment: $115 per week for twice-weekly visits ($5,980 per year).
Methadone treatment: $126 per week for daily visits ($6,552 per year).
Naltrexone treatment: $1,176 per month ($14,112 per year).
Stacey Dash’s Road To Recovery
On The Dr. Oz Show, Stacey Dash explained that she thought Vicodin was filling a hole for her. She described herself as being full of anger prior to and during her addiction. The use of prescription Opioids made Dash feel as though her anger was calmed, her brain was slowed, and like she had the ease needed to deal with life. This can be attributed to the feeling of euphoria caused by Opioids. Many people who use substances to cope with life feel similar to Dash. Despite this, the relief drugs offer is temporary and individuals typically feel worse after the use of Opioids. A person can become addicted when they continue to chase the temporary relief by taking more of the substance and using it more frequently.
Dash, whose parents also struggled with addiction, recently celebrated being sober for 5 years. She said that her recovery allowed her to gain a deeper understanding of her parents. The actress said that she now realizes that they did love her and were doing their best they could in the face of their addictions. Dash went on to attribute her ability to remain sober to her support system and her belief in God. Despite this, Dash said that she still has to fight for her faith on some days.
Stacey Dash told Oz, “Do I have to fight for it? Sometimes, yeah. Are there moments when I wake up and I’m like ‘This is a bad day. I want to do something bad.’ I know if I get on my knees and I pray that Jesus will help me – and he has for five years.”
Emily Murray is a Digital Content Writer at Addiction Center. She earned a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies with Behavioral/Social Sciences and Art concentrations along with a Journalism minor from the University of Central Florida. Dedicated to creativity and conciseness, Emily hopes her words can be of service to those affected by addiction.
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