Editorial: Our nation’s opioid crisis

The school nurse has Narcan in her office, as she should.

Google image in the public domain

The school nurse has Narcan in her office, as she should.

Megaphone Staff

As we near the 2020 election, both Democrats and Republicans alike are dealing with an issue that is threatening households and families across America.

You may have seen it talked about on TV, you may have heard about it in your local community or you may have even been affected by it within your own family.

The opioid crisis has blazed through American towns and cities, creating disruption within the lives of many and leaving its mark on communities. It started when these drugs became normalized, when they became too easy to get.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services wrote, “In the late 1990s, pharmaceutical companies reassured the medical community that patients would not become addicted to opioid pain relievers and healthcare providers began to prescribe them at greater rates.”

Contrary to this statement, people actually did become addicted, turning their lives in the wrong direction. The devastating impact of the opioid crisis has developed into one statistic after another, statistics showing the harmful impacts these painkillers deliver.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse calculated, “In 2017, more than 47,000 Americans died as a result of an opioid overdose, including prescription opioids, heroin and illicitly manufactured fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid. That same year, an estimated 1.7 million people in the United States suffered from substance use disorders related to prescription opioid pain relievers, and 652,000 suffered from a heroin use disorder (not mutually exclusive).”

Even if you personally haven’t been impacted by the crisis, the reality of its effects are still real.

The New York Times took a look at a city in Tennessee to see how they were dealing with the effects of over prescribed opioids. Although shocking, children as young as 6 were being taught how to administer Narcan. Narcan, as explained by school nurse Mrs. Courtney Jennings-Sood, is a drug which reverses the effects of the opioid in the event of an overdose.

As sad as it is to hear children having to learn how to inject Narcan, it awakens the reality of what many communities across America are experiencing, which is family members dying due to these painkillers.

The article from the Times captured the crisis perfectly writing, “Desperate to save lives, county health officials have embraced a practical strategy for stemming the tide of addiction: Teaching children as young as 6 how to reverse an overdose.”

Jennings-Sood said that she also has Narcan in her office and has been taught how to inject it into students in case there is ever an overdose. Although she has thankfully never had to personally administer the drug, she said, “The opioid crisis is real.”

Jennings-Sood added that there are community classes that people can take locally to learn how to administer Narcan and that people are then allowed to keep the drug with them in case of an emergency.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with this epidemic, please reach out to health officials immediately. This battle should not be fought alone.