We Aren’t Immune to the Opioid Crisis

Amanda White, Staff Writer

From 1999 to 2017, the opioid death rate jumped from approximately 10k to 50k in the United States. More Americans die due to opioid overdoses than car crashes.  The East End of Long Island is not immune to this statistic. More than nine hundred people a week die from opioid-related overdoses. Are drugs out of control in the teenage community? 

Most drug use begins in adolescence, regardless of race or socioeconomic standing. Prescription misuse is among one of the fastest growing drug problems in the United States. A major problem is young people are abusing prescription opioid pain relievers and combining them with other substances. 

Opioids can be split into two categories: legally manufactured medications and illicit narcotics. Many opioid medications such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, and morphine (are used to treat pain). This is a main reason why people get hooked on other drugs like heroin and fentanyl a synthetic opioid. Heroin and fentanyl are cheaper than prescribed drugs and easier to get, but are also more potent which increases the risk of overdose.

It can be hard to determine whether or not a teenager is using a substance such as opioids, but, many signs can be obvious such as changes in sleep patterns, agitation, mood swings, poor academic performance, a strong interest in opioids and more. Teenagers may be more likely to abuse opioids when dealing with anxiety, depression, PTSD, or low self esteem. 

For those who need help Officer Kirwin said, “Having knowledge and reaching out to someone you trust is important. Never keep it in.” Someone who is addicted to opioids needs an intervention program that involves long term recovery.

Cities, suburbs, and rural America alike are affected by the opioid crisis. The Trump Administration is declaring this epidemic a public health emergency and setting up funds to deal with drug supply and drug demand. Illegal opioids including fentanyl, have been coming into the country through shipments and border crossings. The U.S is working to cease these shipments. Another strategy to deal with the addiction is having more treatment and providing overdose reversing drugs such as naloxone (narcan) to first responders.

Chances are you or someone you know has been affected by the opioid crisis. In order to make a change, the nation needs to understand that addiction is a disease that can be treated. The stigma that surrounds drug addiction needs to end. More education, prescription drug monitoring, and supporting the use of naloxone, needs to be maintained in order to battle this crisis.