Regarding Amber Petrovich’s Nov. 29 op-ed, “I’m not a junkie. Give me the painkillers, already”:

The addicted don’t intend to become slaves to the substances that temporarily alleviate their pain or get them high. Ms. Petrovich acknowledged that her knee pain “isn’t unbearable, most of the time.” Then, in a spectacularly myopic take on who uses opioids and who becomes addicted and how, she made the case for an opioid prescription because the “constant, nagging pain is bringing me down,” asking physicians to “ease up on prohibiting medications that help patients in pain relax a bit.”

I lost a child to an opioid addiction that began with prescribed medications after outpatient surgery and progressed to illicit pills and street drugs, which led to his death. Americans should wake up to the deadly nature of the drugs that well-meaning doctors (egged on by an opioid industry concerned only with sales) have too long prescribed and to what those drugs have done to Americans who often began their addiction odyssey as medical patients but who wound up horribly ill and as likely to die as to recover from their addictions.

We see addicts as personal failures rather than possible victims of an enormous public-policy failure. To do so while arguing for easier access to the drugs killing so many of our friends and loved ones signifies how far we have to go yet in educating ourselves about the consequences of our very American demand for easy access to anything that makes us feel better temporarily, even if it ultimately kills us.

Russ Merbeth, Alexandria