Letter to the Editor: Opioid Addiction

We all have loved ones that make decisions that we don’t agree with. But what if your loved one was addicted to prescription opioids or heroin? Obviously if they were to overdose you would want them to get naloxone, also known as Narcan, to help them survive their overdose. Would you want them to get saved and then let back out into the world that almost killed them? I’m guessing that you would say no. So, with heroin being such a hot topic; let’s discuss it. According to the Ohio Department of Health, in 2015 overdose deaths in Ohio had reached 3,050, which was an increase from 2014, which was at 2,531. This rate has been steadily increasing throughout the years. There are many people who suffer with drug addiction problems, and we are finally moving in the right direction and having Narcan more readily available for the worst case scenario.  But we need to think about after the fact. It’s great that we can save people from near death but what about saving them from getting into this position in the first place or helping them with life after an overdose?

I want to propose two ideas. My first idea is to focus on the problem at hand. People are doing drugs that are easily available to them. Heroin is all over this area, as well as other drugs. We need to focus on bringing down the people who are bringing this garbage into our neighborhoods and communities. We need to have a stronger drug task force across the United States or possibly stronger boarder control to prevent it from coming into our country. We need to try to catch the people who are passing these drugs out to our citizens. If we can break the chain at the top then we will have fewer drugs available for the streets.

My second idea is that if someone were to overdose, we do not let them go back to normal life right after. I believe that if we give Narcan to someone and save their life then there should be an automatic inpatient rehab sentence. There is no sense in pumping people with Narcan day in and day out without doing something to actually help stop the problem we are facing. This is something that we need, and we need more governmental help. According to the Ohio Department of Health, in Ohio we spent on average $5.4 million a day on medical and work loss costs resulting from drug overdoses in 2012. So I propose that if we give Narcan, then that person goes straight to rehab to help stop their addiction. I’m sure that there will be people trying to escape from rehab. There should be a repercussion to this. Maybe a one-year jail sentence would be needed if this happened. Using unprescribed drugs is illegal, and if someone were to escape from a place that is only trying to help them then they may need to go to a place with higher security while keeping their sobriety.

This is all food for thought. We are moving in the right direction with trying to help the drug epidemic we are having but maybe we need to step back and look at the bigger picture. We may be fighting the wrong battle in a much larger war.

Sandra Sterchi

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