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'This Is Us' Plunges Into the Epidemic of Opioid Addiction

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Julia Wood is a Communications Fellow at RespectAbility and a senior at Emerson College.

On the TV show “This Is Us,” Kevin (Justin Hartley) has a drug misuse disorder; he is living with an addiction to pills. The audience watches as Kevin is trying to recover from his knee surgery in order to ensure an immediate and speedy return to his role on the movie set. The doctor prescribes Vicodin to manage Kevin’s pain. The first fill of the prescription quickly becomes a refill, and then another until finally the doctor refuses to give Kevin access to any more pills.

In this episode, the audience witnesses the effects the misuse disorder can have on the user and his or her relationships. Kevin becomes disengaged and solely focused on finding more medication while his relationship with his girlfriend begins to spiral downward. While she is a doctor, she does not know he has become addicted.

On Thursday, October 26, President Trump announced that the nation is now in a health emergency due to the opioid epidemic. CNN reported, “An analysis from Blue Cross Blue Shield of its members found that from 2010 to 2016, the number of people diagnosed with an addiction to opioids – including both legal prescription drugs like oxycodone and hydrocodone, as well as illicit drugs – climbed 493 percent.”

“This Is Us” is educating people about the current crisis. Statistics show that due to the rapid climb in misuse disorders, the degree of separation is just one – our mothers, fathers and siblings; our neighbors, our teachers and our mailman.

“This Is Us” has been renewed for a third season and airs Mondays at 9:00 p.m. on NBC.

If you or someone you know is struggling with a misuse disorder, you can call The Drug Abuse Hotline at 1 (877) 586-4197.

Originally published: November 14, 2017
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