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January 21 2019

Opioid deaths surpass car crash fatalities, and someone you know is next

via Washington Examiner
by Ericka Andersen Sylvester

You are more likely to die from an opioid overdose than in a car crash in 2019, says a new report from the U.S. National Safety Council. The crisis has caused life expectancy rates on average to decrease — and rates of children in foster care to increase by up to 30 percent in the states hit hardest.

Data show that the majority of overdose deaths are centered squarely in midlife, between the ages of 25-54. Individuals are accidentally killing themselves because they often aren’t aware of resources, tools, and options that could save them from themselves.

It’s no coincidence that death rates are highest in these meaty, stressful years of life. Making a living, raising children, and meeting the difficult standards of modern life can take their toll, especially in places where jobs are disappearing, towns are disintegrating, and loss of faith is on the rise.

 
The top three states for opioid deaths in 2017 were Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida — tapping out at more than 5,000 people per state. By comparison, Pennsylvania saw only 1,137 deaths from crashes in the same time period.

“Opioids are now on pace to kill as many Americans in a decade as HIV/AIDS has since it began,” writes journalist Beth Macy in her acclaimed book, Dopesick.

If one isn’t personally affected, it’s easy to brush by the statistics and let others deal with it. After all, if you don’t take or abuse drugs, you aren’t in any danger — unlike a car crash, which has the potential to kill anyone.

The reality is this: Someone you know or love is taking drugs, especially if you live in a high-risk state. No one is immune from the potential for addiction, whether it starts innocently as a prescription for pain relief or is passed to a teenager in a school hallway, where experimentation is no longer just a cigarette in the restroom.

People become experts at hiding their addictions. Actress Jamie Lee Curtis recently revealed she had a decadelong battle with pills and no one was the wiser. Others, like actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, also succumbed to the drug without many people being aware of his problem.

The longer you take a drug, the higher your tolerance builds and once the addiction takes hold, getting off of it becomes more difficult. It’s not about willpower, but physical torment.

Dope sickness is no joke. Those weaning themselves off opioids will experience exactly the scenes portrayed in movies: violent shaking, muscle spasms, hot and cold flashes, extreme nausea, diarrhea, and even hallucinations and suicidal thoughts. Extreme anxiety and severe depression accompany the process, which is made more powerful the longer a person has been addicted.

Doesn’t it seem easier to simply “manage the addiction,” keep the high, and avoid this misery? To many, the answer is yes. Opioids are in demand and supply is up. It’s not hard or expensive to get a fix.

You can’t “manage” addiction. It manages you.

With about 90 percent of heroin entering the United States from Mexico every single day, Mexican drug cartel lords are becoming billionaires on the back of every American addict. Since the majority of drugs enter the country through legal ports of entry, the U.S. must devise a better to way to track and prevent these deadly substances from entering.

Once they are inside the country, all bets are off. Drug mules meet up with counterparts in places like northeastern Ohio, where drug rings operate out of small towns and even high schools, where young cartel members pose as underage illegal immigrants without guardians.

Of course, the cartels don’t want people to die (that slows customer demand) but the odds of it happening are increasing thanks to fentanyl and other designer drugs gaining popularity in the marketplace. More than 40 percent of the 72,000 deaths from opioids last year involved synthetic opioids like fentanyl. That number isn’t likely to decrease.

I’ve been quoting the 72,000 death rate for all of 2018. In January of 2019, I anxiously await the final tallies for deaths in 2019, but have little hope the numbers will improve.

The mechanism for combating this crisis is not simple. But let these new numbers be a call to arms for prevention, education, recovery, budgetary, and community efforts that will begin to make a dent in the rising opioid death toll.





Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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