Suffering is the root of opioid crisis, speaker tells Rotarians

July 24, 2018

FLORENCE, S.C. – The Florence Rotary Club got an up-close look Monday at the opioid crisis that is gripping America.

“My idea today is to bring a little bit of thinking to you,” said Kelly Jones, one of the owners of The Pharmacy. “You’re all very smart people. You’re all very successful people. And it’s a good opportunity to spend a little bit of time to help you think through this in a little different way.”

Jones began discussing the opioid crisis by asserting that everyone in the room wanted to live to a “ripe old age,” which he defined as 80 years of age.

“Especially for the guys, we make it to 80, we have lived a life,” Jones said. “The first day after your 80th birthday, you can raise your hand and say we did it.”

Jones asked what caused people who died before 80 to not make it to 80.

He said 25 percent of the deaths before 80 relate to choices like diet and smoking. Seventy-five percent of the deaths before 80 are accounted for in the unhappiness of the individual, such as like not liking one’s job, being poor, ostracized from society or lonely.

Those in the 75 percent of deaths before 80 are people who were suffering, he added.

“This is where it gets interesting,” Jones continued.

One theory is that the people who are addicted, which Jones defined as those willing to use improper means to obtain medication, were using opiates to relieve their suffering.

He discussed the idea of embracing the suffering in life as a way of becoming resilient, which he said is the Christian way of dealing with the difficulties of life.

Jones also showed several statistics indicating the severity of the opioid problem in the United States and in South Carolina.

One of the statistics he mentioned is that in 2016, 15 people in Florence County died from opioid abuse. The South Carolina county with the highest number of opioid-related deaths was Horry with 101.

Jones is a graduate of the College of Charleston and received his pharmacy degrees from the Medical University of South Carolina. He also served as a professor for several institutions and was a member of the faculty at the McLeod Family Medicine Residency Program for 28 years.

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