I’m feeling pretty sad today. No, it’s not because there is anything particularly wrong going on in my life today. The thing that is bothering me right now is the ignorance and lack of awareness surrounding something that has profoundly altered my life, my family’s lives, my friends lives, my acquaintances, and millions of people that I don’t personally know.
The Opiate Epidemic!
(This post is going to barely clip the iceberg of the epidemic that we are amid but I am going to do my best to raise some awareness and inspire you to fight for our brothers and sisters that are dying everyday)
August 31st was International Overdose Awareness Day(did you know that?), well, I was doing a little research about opioid addiction and overdose numbers in America on that day. Since then, I have felt a deep sadness having seen those numbers in black and white. I often hear these numbers thrown around but never has it affected me in the way that It has right now..
The number that is extremely bothering is that on average in 2017, 130 Americans died EVERY DAY over the course of that year from opioid overdose.
The people that are dying everyday are not just the street “junkies” that you see holding a sign on a street corner. The people that are dying are wives, husbands, parents, children, brothers, sisters, grandparents, cousins, friends, co-workers, police officers, teachers, celebrities, athletes, idols, our loved ones and role models! At this point in time, in one way or another, every single American has been affected by the opiate epidemic! And still I see so much ignorance among the very people that are affected by it.
I feel the need to share another recent story related to this:
On the very day(August 26th) that a judge in Oklahoma ruled that a pharmaceutical company is to be fined over $500 million for negligence and responsibility in the national opiate epidemic(this lawsuit arises a whole different topic of “where exactly is that money going to?”), I overheard a group of people discussing this and all were in agreement that the lawsuit is wrong. And I have to quote what one of them said: “The opiate epidemic is a Mexican problem, not an American problem. It’s all because the Mexicans are bringing drugs into America!”
In the moment I laughed it off and walked away. But seriously, that is the kind of ignorance that makes me sick because that is the exact ignorance that enables this epidemic to continue to get worse. I am going to share a few more statistics with you now just in case you agree with that statement about “Mexicans being responsible for this epidemic.”
The drug “OxyContin” was approved by the FDA(the American government) in 1995 to be prescribed. Marketing campaigns and distribution started in 1996. Opiate addiction and overdose deaths have exponentially gotten worse since then. Within 10 years of the release of OxyContin, it was the most abused prescription medication in the country. Statistics on opioid overdose deaths show that in 1999 there were 8,048 deaths, in 2007 there were 18,515, in 2017 there were 47,600 deaths!
Over the past 10 years, the US government has put in place some funding to “curb” the epidemic. The American politicians that are responsible for “curbing” this epidemic are at the same time receiving millions in campaign dollars from the pharmaceutical companies that are still profiting from and responsible for the epidemic in the first place. The government still allows these pharmaceutical companies to profit in the billions of dollars and continue to market and distribute opioid pain killers. Now these pain killers often have very slightly different chemical make-ups and different drug names but they continue to KILL more people that are already addicted and everyday these drugs continue to be prescribed to more people that are unknowingly beginning their addiction. But “it’s a Mexican problem,” right?
Well, the only reason there is a “need” for the drugs that are often smuggled through the Mexican border is because the pharmaceutical industry created millions of addicts that can no longer receive prescriptions or afford their drugs and they turn to a cheaper option.
There are still so many more influences that factor into this epidemic and like I mentioned before, this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Sadly, 6 people have passed away from “vape” related illnesses in the past couple months. Flavored vape juice has now been banned in a couple states and we are on the verge of a nation wide ban! This comment is not to downplay the seriousness and sadness of those deaths that have occurred due to vaping. It is to question why can there be such swift action to ban vape and there has still been no serious action taking place to stop this opiate epidemic that is killing hundreds of thousands of Americans. At some-point you would think that the American government would step in and say “no more!”. But we’re still waiting for that to happen! Unfortunately that day will not arrive until our voices and our votes speak louder than the money that the pharmaceutical companies are spending on buying politicians!
September is National Recovery Month! This is a month to celebrate those that are in recovery and to promote awareness and hope for those still suffering! I titled this article “Wake Up : It’s Recovery Month, ” because it’s time for us as a whole to “wake up” and fight for not only recovery but for those not yet addicted. Please educate yourselves on the thing that is killing us and our loved ones and take the time to encourage anyone that you know that is struggling to seek help!