The most important thing you can do about the opioid epidemic is to comfort the people who are affected. Sorry, that’s really the most important thing right now. A lot of people are mourning. If you don’t know anyone that’s going through this, then the best thing for you to do is to tell everyone you can about opioids. Tell them where it’s coming from. Tell them that their doctors might be encouraged to prescribe opioids even if they don’t need that much. Tell them to ask their doctor if maybe they could start with something not so strong. When you go to the doctor, always remember to be your own advocate. While most doctors wouldn’t ignore symptoms of drug abuse, they may choose to overlook a higher susceptibility to abuse. Remember, they have student loans, too, and if you thought your student loans are high, ask your doctor about theirs!
You also need to do something that is probably less comfortable. Most of us don’t want to call the police or report something to the FBI, despite always hearing “see something, say something,” but if you see a website online that is selling fentanyl, U47700, report it. Even if you’re ignored, at least that call will have been recorded. Call again. Keep calling. If you don’t want to call the police, call Congress. Let them know that you found a website that is openly stating that there are synthetic opioids available from overseas and that all you need to do is type in your credit card and your address and you can start taking pills. There are dozens out there.
Finally, and I know this is going to be hard and probably impossible, but you need you to resist the temptation to start taking these pills yourself. Find every excuse not to. Tell yourself that it’s going to cost too much and you won’t have money for beer because, frankly, beer is safer anyway. Tell yourself that even one pill will kill you. Even though this won’t always happen–sometimes it does–if you tell yourself it’s deadly, you won’t risk it. I know that sounds silly, but if you have an urge to take more than prescribed, go for a walk or watch a movie or call a friend. Most importantly, talk about it. Tell someone what you’re thinking about doing. It’s not like you’re calling the suicide prevention hotline. You’re just telling someone you might double your dose or take a few more pills to see what happens. At this point, someone out there is going to know that that’s a bad idea and will tell you to stop.
If you want to stop this epidemic, you can call Congress and get them to vote on special funding to ensure that all hospitals and schools are prepared with antidotes. You can get them to vote on stockpiling antidotes at FEMA warehouses. You can insist that they treat this not just as an epidemic but an ongoing national crisis that is killing the citizens of the United States of America. Tell them that you know the synthetic opioids are coming from China and that China is fully intent on destroying this country. You have the power to get the United States to be tougher on China. Get U.S. companies to start doing business with other countries. Most importantly, though, we just need someone new in the White House. This has been the longest administration of my life, and it hasn’t even been six months. Get out there, support a campaign, get as many Democrats in office in 2018, and encourage them to support a head-on approach both domestically and internationally so that we can stop this crisis once and for all.
You’ve reached the end of Series 22: Opioid Epidemic
Read Full Essay