Darlene Superville of the Associated Press has joined the many journalists nationwide in pointing out the dangers of the opioid epidemic. In her article, she focuses on the economic implications. In 2015, the crisis as it is now being referred, cost 504 billion dollars. This is a far higher estimate than previous estimates.

I want to focus on a few points today in this column. More than 64,000 died from overdoses last year. We as a society are becoming more and more dependent on medications. Medications are needed at times and they have a place, but as we see with the opioid crisis, we, in the health care world, need to look at the cause of problems.

This is a major challenge as our cultural values, marketing efforts, and society in general wants a quick fix to our problems. There is so much money and lobbying involved, this problem will linger for a long period of time. We are now in the, “Oh we have a problem phase.”

A few years ago I felt so strongly about the problem of deaths related to medication, I wrote the book, “Medicines that Kill”. This book was intended to give individuals another source to educate themselves. I still feel the number one cause of death in America is the misuse of medications. The opioid crisis is just more evidence. As this is such a problem, we need to continue to speak out in the media. Individuals need to hear other voices that have no financial interests in the industry.

If you are taking an opioid or other medications, ask yourself if this is treating the cause. Is there anything you can do to address the cause of the symptom or the pain? Thinking along these lines is a good place to start. We cannot depend on others. If we do the cost will be much higher.