Earlier this year, two childhood friends died on the same day –– just half a mile apart.
Dustin Manning, 19, Joseph Abraham, 18, grew up playing Little League Baseball together. Abraham’s father even coached them together for two years.
In middle school, the two began experimenting with drugs –– Manning, as a coping mechanism for his depression and Abraham as he grappled with the tragic loss of two friends.
Both sets of parents sought help from drug treatment centers time and time again, but even the treatment centers could not save their sons. On May 26, 2017 both Manning and Abraham were pronounced dead.
The cause? A frightening reality far too real for many Americans: opioids. In fact, the recent statistics of opioid addiction in the U.S. has led experts to call for an opioid crisis, an issue that may be right outside your door.
Opioid drugs are commonly abused because they are so addictive. These medications bind to areas of the brain that control pain and emotion, increasing dopamine levels in the brain’s reward areas and producing intense euphoric feelings, or a “high.”
Common opioids include morphine, codeine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, fentanyl and methadone.
Manning and Abraham are only two of thousands of Americans who wrestle with the powerful pull of these drugs. According to CNN reports, more than two million Americans have become dependent on opioids.
In 2015 alone, there were approximately 52,404 drug overdose deaths in the U.S. –– 33, 091 involved opioids, which is an average of 91 opioid overdose deaths each day.
Opioid prescriptions are being written by doctors at a steady increase each year, with only 112 million prescriptions in 1992 to 236 million in 2016.
Earlier this month, President Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency. Although Trump’s declaration appears urgent, he has neglected to accept funding for a solution.
Instead, Trump said he would continue to fight drug trafficking from Mexico by building a wall and announced vague steps to ban specific opioid drugs and train prescribers to develop non-addictive painkillers.
Good intentions, President Trump, but building a wall and creating vague plans is not going to help anyone.
As Senator Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts said, “America is hemorrhaging lives by the day because of the opioid epidemic, but President Trump offered the country a Band-Aid when we need a tourniquet.”
The fact is, until legislature is pushed concerning the harmful, damaging opioid drugs ravaging our nation, the numbers will continue to spike. Until outpatient and inpatient treatment for opioid addiction are more accessible than hydrocodone or morphine, more lives will be ruined.
When a monstrous force as large as this crisis is, which has taken and continues to take thousands of lives, will we continue to sit idly by? Will our president and government officials stay complacent?
This is a national crisis. Soft ideas and empty words will not save anyone.