The Opioid Epidemic: 2016 – What Has Changed?
In August of 2016, we shared a Blog Post called, Heroin on Main Street, U.S.A.
I talked about the growing problem with heroin, meth and opioids:
(from 2016 Blog: Heroin on Main Street, U.S.A. )
Every day, the stories come out about the devastating consequences of heroin addiction affecting all segments of our society. From opiates like the street drug, heroin to prescription medicines such as oxycodone, morphine and fentanyl, this has become a national problem. Unfortunately, many funeral directors have seen the tragic consequences firsthand, providing services for those who succumbed to the ravages of drugs… These deaths have prompted a grassroots movement to create more public awareness.
Now, nearly three years later, we all know it’s only gotten worse. (From 2016)
‘10 Hours, 15 Overdoses’; ‘Heroin Use in U.S. Reaches Epidemic Levels’, ‘18 Year-Old Dies from Overdose’; ‘Heroin Capital of the United States’
Today, the headlines are still there:
“Tens of thousands of Americans die each year from opioid overdoses”, “4 fatal opioid ODs in 5 days in Lowell”, “Report: Americans Are Now More Likely To Die Of An Opioid Overdose Than On The Road”, “Alexandria warns of opioid danger after four overdose and two die”.
The Obituaries we shared 3 years ago continue, revealing anguish behind these tragic end-of-life stories:
Since 2016, the number of deaths have escalated dramatically:
In the state of Massachusetts, nearly 1,400 people died from opioid overdoses in 2015. In the first quarter of 2016, there has been an estimated 400 opioid-related deaths which averages out to over 1,600 for the year.
In 2017 (most recent date for data), there were 1,913 drug overdose deaths involving opioids in Massachusetts—a rate of 28.2 deaths per 100,000 persons, which is twofold higher than the national rate of 14.6 deaths per 100,000 persons.
So what does this all mean?
The stark reality is, this is a national crisis has forced the public to take notice. Whether it’s because they’ve been personally impacted or have learned through the media, this acknowledgement has prompted raw and transparent conversations - through all levels of government, cities, towns and communities and across all socio-economic groups. The efforts are growing to not only put a stop to this epidemic but to address those currently addicted, providing rehabilitation and continuing long-term support.
Positioned in the path of these tragic deaths, the industry has been actively involved in confronting this issue well before 2016 but it’s its efforts to proactively educate, support and lend a hand to those individuals and families struggling with this opioid issue sess continue.
…Public outcry and community awareness is coming while funding is being sought to support education and programs in fighting this social problem. But as demonstrated by the families who have suffered and these local funeral homes, the fight isn’t at the state or national capitals - it’s in our communities, schools and homes…it’s on Main Street, U.S.A.
Collectively, as a country, we acknowledge this opioid epidemic is real. We’re now creating programs, securing funding and actively searching for solutions to address the problem. It’s not going to turnaround overnight but as a community, locally and nationally, much like the addiction itself, it will take time, it will take a team effort, and it will take hard work. But it can be done.