According to the Center for Disease Control, one thousand people are treated in emergency rooms for misusing opioids. In 2015, 15,000 died from prescription opioid overdoses. This number is increasing as a result of opioids becoming increasingly accessible. The opioid crisis is getting so bad that as of 2015, ninety-one Americans died every day as a result of an overdose.  

Ninety-one deaths is way too many. One is way too many. You’ve probably seen headlines about the ongoing opioid crisis affecting our country. Opioids are commonly prescribed to treat pain, such as Percocet and OxyContin. Heroin and fentanyl are also classified as opioids. Abusing prescription drugs themselves is dangerous. In fact, it could lead to even deadlier addictions. Statistics show that recreationally taking painkillers can end in heroin use.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is stronger than heroin and can be laced with other illegal drugs. This particular opioid, which can be absorbed through the skin, injected, or snorted, goes quickly into the brain and an overdose can cause a person to stop breathing. A single milligram of fentanyl can cause an overdose. Carafentanil is a synthetic opioid that is commonly used to tranquilize large animals. According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, carafentanil is 10,000 times more potent than morphine and 100 times more potent than fentanyl. Just like fentanyl, it can be disguised and sold as regular heroin.  

No state is unaffected by this crisis. Everyone knows someone impacted by addiction or an overdose. Deaths from opioid abuse have greatly increased and will continue unless action is taken. Some states have already stepped up and started to take action by declaring a State of Emergency and allocating resources to combat addiction, while some local figures have also caused controversy with how they are dealing with overdoses. What can you do to help? You can easily take action in your community. It could save lives.

You can start by safely disposing of old medicine that might be in your house. Numerous states, including Maryland, Washington, and Colorado established programs where people can safely dispose of unused prescription drugs. You can also become certified to administer Naloxone. Naloxone, commonly known as Narcan, is given to people to reverse the effects on an opioid overdose. It is administered as a nasal spray or an injection. According to the Harm Reduction Coalition, the signs of an opioid overdose are a loss of consciousness, vomiting, the body going limp, and an erratic heartbeat. A person’s lips can also turn bluish purple have a “death rattle,” in which a overdoser makes a gurgling noise. 

One of the easiest ways to help combat this crisis is, of course, talking to those around you about it. Addiction is a disease and it doesn’t discriminate. The opioid crisis can end if we all step up and change the conversation in our communities.

Melissa B
Melissa is a young conservative navigating the world of post-grad one cup of coffee (or glass of wine) at a time. When she isn't volunteering on campaigns up and down the ballot in deep blue Maryland or trying to get selfies with politicians, you can find her reading, cheering on the Ravens, or hanging out with friends.

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