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Two-thirds of opioid misuse begins when individuals take a prescription medication that was not legally written for their use.
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Robin Smith

Sounds good, right? Mighty adult to be personally responsible. But so many of society's ills and horrors lie in the fact that many, and in growing numbers, decide to either abandon personal responsibility or make some godlike assumption that the laws of nature and nature's God don't apply to them, so, they'll risk stupid behavior and thrust the outcomes of their bad decisions upon others as a burden.

No, there's no argument that accidents don't happen. There's no defense that we all make mistakes. But thinking adults are equipped to learn from both. There's also no denying that sometimes bad things just happen to good people or innocents. However, let's just admit it: So much of what we're seeing in our culture today is self-inflicted.

Let's look at a few examples.

Today's opioid crisis is truly a scourge on our society. Yet pain medicine created to treat the almost 25 million patients devastated by daily, chronic pain from either a life-altering traumatic injury, a degenerative disease or an illness from birth has been hijacked by individuals who choose to misuse prescription medications and turn them into street rot.

One does not have an addiction to a substance until it is used. Dependence involves changes to normal bodily functions by an external chemical over time, either through the adaptation to its presence or through withdrawal syndrome when it is removed. Addiction is a compulsive behavior engaged in or pursued to achieve a certain state of emotion, physical being or feeling through activities, usually in excess, such as gambling, shopping, sex, or substances whether illegal or legal, as in prescription medications.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, housed within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, at least 75 percent of all opioid misuse begins with individuals using medication prescribed for a family member, friend or dealer. Further, as published in Scientific American, regardless of the drug studied, about 90 percent of all addictions begin in young adult and teenage years.

If two-thirds of opioid misuse begins when individuals take a prescription medication that was not written for their use, where does the real responsibility lie? Many want to say the manufacturer, the doctors, society at large, or insert the name of another target of blame.

Now, to guns.

Guns are weapons, not toys. Guns, like prescription medicines, have a defined, created purpose that, when used as directed and appropriate, serve a valuable purpose. Clearly, however, individuals intent on the misuse of guns will do so, whether by altering a manufacturer's product to pervert it, using one in the commission of a crime or employing one in a casual manner that does not recognize its capacity and purpose.

As we know, however, the monumental effort to demonize guns is much easier than to address the underlying issue of the individual behavior involved in the nefarious use of guns.

So we are in a society that expects inanimate objects that have a value to be banned or outlawed to protect those who can't act responsibly. Apparently, humanity would prefer to relegate its personal responsibilities to a government entity, while we lose our freedoms, rather than demanding a level of conduct and behavior that permits the availability of products such as pain medicines that permit some semblance of normal function to some or guns that offer protection through self-defense.

Personal responsibility is taught, reinforced and rewarded in a progressive society. However, in 2017, it's easier to avoid it and live as a victim.

Robin Smith, a former Tennessee Republican Party chairwoman, owns Rivers Edge Alliance.

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