By Claire Grider, Analytics Executive
I was 14 when I first knew someone who died from opioids. I was 18 when it was my friend’s family member. I was 20 when it was my best friend’s mom. I was in college when I realized I could make a change.
Many of us have seen first-hand or through the media, what addiction is like. And most of us do feel hopeless when faced with fixing the problem. But that shouldn’t stop anyone from confronting this epidemic. Bringing awareness to the issue at hand, instead of feeling overwhelmed by the injustice at hand, is the first step in the path to reconstruction.
From 1999-2018 around 450,000 people died from an opioid overdose. This includes commonly prescribed opioids along with a new spike in synthetic opioids (which can be prescribed or illicitly manufactured). As the amount of opioid-related deaths increases, so does the amount of opioid prescriptions. People have been fighting for years about the dangers of doctors easily prescribing opioids to young and/or vulnerable patients. Now it’s time for us, the public, to step up and not only bring awareness but to hold Big Pharma accountable.
The opioid epidemic is more than just lives taken from this world, it’s lives ruined while still in it. This epidemic is all over the content and media we consume, but it’s time we really listen to this and take part in it ourselves.
“And now my little brother is in the sky From a pill that a doctor prescribed. That a drug dealing billion-dollar industry supplied. And the cops never go and profile at night. Yeah, the, the, the orange plastic with the white top they sell to you, Has us looking for the answers in that instead of you” - Macklemore and Ryan Lewis “Kevin” lyrics
The CDC has started a Rx Awareness Campaign concerning the opioid crisis. This campaign is meant to tell the stories of real people who have struggled with this addiction. It uses the tagline “It only takes a little to lose a lot” to educate people on the dangers of medical and non-medical opioid use.
By increasing the awareness of this campaign, we can further educate people on this epidemic. And right now, the biggest way to fight is to educate the public and personally work to help those around us. Reading about ways to help in your area is the first step to fixing the problem.
The signs are there, the media is telling us, and the people are dying.
Opioids affect all corners of the United States, and affect thousands of people. Further learning about what resources there are in someone’s area can save lives. Donating time to crisis centers, being there for loved ones struggling, and recognizing the signs of addiction are the most life-changing ways to act about the opioid epidemic.
It’s time to communicate about the opioid epidemic.
Here are links about how to get help for yourself or loved ones and to learn about how to help:
Mayo Clinic, “How to tell if a loved one is abusing opioids” https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/prescription-drug-abuse/in-depth/how-to-tell-if-a-loved-one-is-abusing-opioids/art-20386038
National Institutes on Drug Abuse, “Opioid Overdose Crisis” https://www.drugabuse.gov/drug-topics/opioids/opioid-overdose-crisis
Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, “Confronting America’s Opioid Epidemic”
American Society of Addiction Medicine, “Membership Directory”
American Society of Anesthesiologists, “Opioid Abuse”
National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Opioid Overdose Reversal with Naloxone”