Opioids are a growing epidemic in the United States. According to a study, the annual mortality rate for children and adolescents due to opioids rose 268% in the last twenty years. Additionally, only 16% of parents have talked to their teens about prescription pain medication abuse.
What does it mean to be addicted or to have an addiction? Why do some people become addicted more easily than others?
What is Substance Use Disorder
These are some of the questions Dr. Laura Happe answers for us on this episode of A Healthy BIte. We are discussing her book, “If You Give an Ox an Oxy” and substance use disorder.
Substance use disorder, is a disease that affects a person’s brain and behavior and leads to an inability to control the use of a legal or illegal drug or medication. Substances such as alcohol, marijuana and nicotine also are considered drugs. When you’re addicted, you may continue using the drug despite the harm it causes.
Drug addiction can start with experimental use of a recreational drug in social situations, and, for some people, the drug use becomes more frequent. For others, particularly with opioids, drug addiction begins with exposure to prescribed medications, or receiving medications from a friend or relative who has been prescribed the medication.
The risk of addiction and how fast you become addicted varies by drug. Some drugs, such as opioid painkillers, have a higher risk and cause addiction more quickly than others.
As time passes, you may need larger doses of the drug to get high. Soon you may need the drug just to feel good. As your drug use increases, you may find that it’s increasingly difficult to go without the drug. Attempts to stop drug use may cause intense cravings and make you feel physically ill (withdrawal symptoms).
You may need help from your doctor, family, friends, support groups or an organized treatment program to overcome your drug addiction and stay drug-free. ~ Mayo Clinic
If You Give an Ox an Oxy
PharmD and mother of two Dr. Laura Happe is trying to change that statistic with a book for adolescents and parents to talk about prescription medication use.
Dr. Happe’s book follows the style of the classic children’s book series “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.”
“If You Give an Ox an Oxy” is an engaging picture book that educates kids about the dangers of opioid use and gives parents the tools to start meaningful discussions about this national crisis.
As I mention in the podcast episode, touchy subjects like this one are the ones I prefer to avoid. After reading this book with my youngest child, I realized it wasn’t as uncomfortable as I imagined. My daughter asked a few questions, then moved on with her day. It felt good knowing that she now was equipped with information that I might have otherwise avoided talking about.
In the book If You Give an Ox an Oxy, readers follow Ox as he begins by taking just a few opioids for an injury until a few turns into a lot, and a lot turns into an addiction. The book teaches children an invaluable lesson.
On a mission to combat drug abuse
As a pharmacist, researcher, and educator, Dr. Happe has dedicated herself to helping people make better decisions when it comes to pharmaceutical use. She is passionate about arming parents with the information they need to talk with their kids about the dangers of using addictive opioids.
Unlike any book before it, “If You Give an Ox an Oxy” shows how addiction can happen, what addiction and treatment look like, and why relapses occur. This unique and brightly illustrated story, which is supported throughout by facts and statistics, creates a comfortable environment in which to have discussions about a hefty topic.
“As a parent of a tween and teen, my husband and I have purchased several books as support in discussing complex topics with them, from bullying and puberty to internet safety,” Dr. Happe shares. “But when looking for a resource to help them understand today’s opioid epidemic, we found few options were available. As a pharmacist who was taught in school that opioids were not addictive, I wanted to be part of the solution, and I hope to do so with Ox.”
Meet Dr. Laura Happe
Dr. Laura Happe is a pharmacist, researcher, and educator who uses data to help people make better decisions. As an executive leader in the pharmacy and insurance industries, she has developed new businesses and strategies, including the opioid epidemic response at a Fortune 50 health care company.
Dr. Happe is the chief editor of the peer-reviewed Journal of Managed Care and Specialty Pharmacy and a professor at the University of Florida and Wingate University. She lives with her husband in Charlotte, North Carolina, where they teach their kids that happiness is a choice.
Laura earned her Doctorate of Pharmacy degree from Creighton University and is a licensed pharmacist in both Florida and Arizona. She also holds a Master’s of Public Health degree with an emphasis in epidemiology from the University of South Florida and is fellowship-trained in pharmacoeconomics and outcomes research. She lives with her husband in Charlotte, North Carolina, where they teach their kids that happiness is a choice.
For more information, visit www.laurahappe.com.”If You Give an Ox an Oxy” is available at Amazon and other booksellers.
Substance Use Recovery
This seemed like a good place to share a story about redemption.