A few things we should all know:
Drug overdoses are the leading cause of death in the United States, outpacing gun violence and auto accidents.
Though the root of the current opioid crisis is linked with over prescription of painkillers, it is the heroin laced with fentanyl that is the most deadly in many states. Patients can find illegal heroin to be cheaper than paying their copay for prescription medication and easier to obtain than a legal prescription.
The age of overdose deaths is trending downward and now reaching its first peak in individuals who are in their 20s – this is a significant change from what we were seeing in the year 2000.
These are a few suggestions on what we can do to address this growing drug addiction crisis:
- Educate young people at home, in school, in the community about making safe decisions, refusing to succumb to peer pressure and asking a trusted adult any questions that they have about drugs.
- Improving access to evidence based, affordable drug treatment services in every community.
- Supporting legislation that thoughtfully addresses the over prescription of painkillers
- Support all efforts to get Naloxone (also known as Narcan) to emergency responders (Police, Firefighters, EMTs) in your community. Narcan is used in emergencies when an individual has overdoes on opioid drugs and has saved thousands of lives already. It is not a long term strategy, but it does save lives.