With the eyes of the nation fixated on the Derek Chauvin trial for the killing of George Floyd, perhaps the most powerful testimony to date was that of George Floyd’s girlfriend Courteney Ross, who shared the couple’s struggle with opioid addiction.
In perhaps one of the most captivating court cases in recent years, the murder trial of George Floyd by former officer Derek Chauvin has drawn not only national attention but eyes from all over the world. In May of 2020, the death of George Floyd drew widespread outrage when a video went viral online showing the then officer with the Minneapolis Police Department, Derek Chauvin, holding his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck as he gasped for breath and cried out for help.
What has become one of the most memorable moments so far in the early days of the trial has been the testimony of George Floyd’s girlfriend, Courteney Ross. Ross’s tear-jerking testimony saw her recount her almost three-year relationship with Mr. Floyd, and how the two had come to be in a relationship.
“Our story, it’s a classic story of how many people get addicted to opioids,”
One of the key moments of the testimony was Ross’s opening up about the couple’s struggle with opioid addiction. Like so many other Americans, Floyd and Ross both struggled with addiction to opioid medications.
“Our story, it’s a classic story of how many people get addicted to opioids,” she said. “We both struggled from chronic pain. Mine was in my neck and he was in his back.”
While Ross’s testimony will be used by both the prosecution and defense, each trying to use the opioid addiction to shed light on their arguments, it also reminds the public that opioid addiction is still a very real issue that needs to be addressed.
Opioid addiction is an all-too-real struggle that thousands of people battle every day. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, roughly 21 to 29 percent of patients who are prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them; and of those, between 8 and 12 percent will develop an opioid use disorder.
Nobody sets out to abuse or become addicted to opioids, but it is a very real danger for those with chronic pain who are prescribed opioids for pain management. While personal history, length of time taking opioids, and severity of pain can play a role in addiction, it is impossible to predict who will develop an addiction to opioids. Deaths caused by drug overdoses fall under the category of unintentional and preventable deaths, which are the third leading cause of death in the United States.
Opioids are a type of narcotic pain medication, which adheres to the opioid receptors in the brain, spinal cord, and other parts of the body, to tell the body it is not in pain. Opioids can be obtained both legally and illegally. Common types of opioids include oxycodone (OxyContin®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), codeine, morphine, and many others. For individuals suffering from chronic pain, opioids such as these can be the only solution to their pain management.
“The urgency of patients’ needs, the demonstrated effectiveness of opioid analgesics for the management of acute pain, and the limited therapeutic alternatives for chronic pain have combined to produce an overreliance on opioid medications in the United States, with associated alarming increases in diversion, overdose, and addiction,” states Nora D. Volkow, M.D., and A. Thomas McLellan, Ph.D., authors of a 2016 publication in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).
The same study showed that “prescribing opioids long-term for their analgesic effects will typically require increasingly higher doses to maintain the initial level of analgesia — up to 10 times the original dose,” and showed similarly that tolerance of opioids also increased with higher doses of opioids.
Opioid addiction can happen at any time during an individual’s struggle with chronic pain. For those who have been prescribed opioids, addiction can become a gradual condition that can occur as a result of tolerance that has been built, or the general misuse of opioids, such as taking more than the prescribed amount, or more frequently than prescribed.
Courteney Ross’s testimony reminds everyone that opioid addiction is a serious problem in America and that there are thousands of people just like herself who struggle with chronic pain and opioid addiction.
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