In 2016, more than 64,000 Americans died to due to drug overdoses. The number of deaths is simply staggering. Hoosiers have been hit particularly hard by the epidemic, as Indiana is one of four states where the overdose rate has more than quadrupled since 1999. Opioid addiction does not discriminate based on income, race, gender, geography, or age. Failure to stop opioid addiction and overdose deaths will allow this epidemic to continue destroying our families and communities…….
I have been an “advocate” for substance treatment for those suffering with Substance Use Disorder since 1996 when I discovered my own daughter was suffering with an addiction to opiates. Jennifer suffered for 13 years with an opioid addiction and died as a direct result of her disease of addiction.
After her death I have continued advocating (for over 9 years) for improved intervention laws, more treatment services, including providing substance treatment for those incarcerated as a result of their addiction and for those citizens with a SUD.
Reflecting over the past 20 years of addressing the opioid crisis and families who are suffering, the epidemic rages on with no end in sight in the USA. Insurance providers do not want to provide behavioral health care coverage (long term residential treatment), the foster care system is overloaded due to a parents addiction resulting in they cannot care for their children, the prisons are overcrowded due to “housing” those who have a substance use disorder. We have many non-for-profit organizations, Governors, congressional leaders, ONDCP, who do not have the silver bullet to end this plague killing more Americans than car crashes.
As I reflect on my grief journey of losing my child to the opioid epidemic (and contact with Jennifer’s son/ my grandson, Trey’s growing up years), working with state lawmakers to pass laws, Governors and advocacy groups and schools, I still do not see an answer to the crisis.
My main question circles back to what is the underlying reason (internal turmoil) people are reaching for a substance to numb their senses and their physical and mental pain. Until we can put our finger on that, we will continue to circle the wagon of addiction and the current situation will remain. – Sharon Blair (Founder of The Jennifer Act)