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Citizen Soldier Law Trust a Veteran
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Effect of Opiates


The horrific effects of opiates are well known across the country. These highly addictive painkillers have ended the lives of 72,000 people last year in the United States, and ruined the futures of many more. The death toll is higher than the peak yearly death totals from H.I.V., car crashes or gun deaths, according to the New York Times. The over-prescription of addictive painkillers such as OxyContin, Vicodin, and Demerol has caused the opiate crisis to skyrocket over the past 10 years. Long hours, mental strain, and frequent injuries that require pain medication often engender opiate addictions, making first responders such as police officers, EMTs, and active-duty service members especially susceptible. In fact, the USFA estimates that as many as ten percent of first responders may be abusing drugs. Opiate addictions can cost first responders their careers, if not their lives.

One victim of the growing opiate epidemic is Zach Simon, a police officer of fifteen years. While responding to a robbery, Simon was rear-ended by a commercial truck. His cruiser sustained over $10,000 worth of damage, and Simon sustained significant injuries to his back, neck, and shoulder. He began receiving chiropractic treatment and attended regular physical therapy. Soon, however, the pain became too much and Zach Simon went to a pain management specialist, where he was prescribed 120 pills of oxycodone.

What began as one pill per day quickly escalated to ten as Simon grew more and more reliant on the opiate. After a while, Simon recognized his addiction and attempted to quit, but his pain returned and Simon grew desperate.  He arranged an appointment to purchase five pills of oxycodone from a friend. During the sale, Simon was arrested and charged with possession of a controlled dangerous substance – a third degree crime.

Zach Simon was suspended without pay from the police department and enrolled in a specialized first responders rehab program.

Months later, Simon’s previous injuries were aggravated in a second accident. Just days before his court date for his first charge, he took two more pills of oxycodone, and was found unresponsive by his girlfriend.

Because of his second overdose, the prosecutors changed his plea agreement, forcing him to resign with a bar to any future in law enforcement.

The over-prescription of opiates such as oxycodone to treat pain as created a nation-wide epidemic, and no group in immune. Many doctors are prescribing too many pills, allowing patients to increase their dosage without a doctor’s endorsement. They prescribe opiates first, before trying non-addictive methods of treatment.

It is crucial that first responders like Zach Simon get the help they need in order to recover from opiate addictions, especially when they are caused by service-related injuries. Despite time spent in rehab dedicated to recovery, Simon lost all hope of recovering his former life. Zach Simon’s injuries incurred while on duty in the police force ultimately cost him his job. We hope we can help him earn it back.

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