There Is An Opioid Crisis, And We Must Do Something About It

Hannah Van Osdel, Writer

Did you know that an opioid overdose is the leading cause of accidental deaths in the United States?  More than 52,404 people died in 2015 from an opioid overdose, yet addiction is preventable problem. With proper education and awareness, citizens can recognize the warning signs of an opioid addiction. 

The opioid crisis was a passion that my late teacher, Laura Wallen, laid the foundation for.  She was extremely dedicated to seeing this epidemic tackled head on in the state of Maryland, for many of her family and friends were affected. In her memory, I am pursuing this issue, as I, too, would like to see this problem obliterated.

In the first half of 2017, there were nearly 800 fentanyl related deaths in the state of Maryland. By definition, opioids are drugs that are activated in the nervous system to relieve pain. Fentanyl is one of the most common examples, along with oxycodone and codeine. With many of these overdoses being linked to fentanyl, why is this powerful drug still readily available? And why aren’t we teaching students about the dangers of taking these drugs? 

We cannot keep allowing deaths to occur everyday, when we could be taking the correct steps to make the drug harder to access.  The deaths occurring at a staggering rate are more than preventable, and we must take action. 

One of my biggest pursuits is the power of education. Many people in Maryland as well as the United States are unaware of the dangers that opioids possess. These people may not know what an opioid is until having the resources to be educated. Something that could be extremely beneficial would be making opioid addictions part of health curriculums throughout the state of Maryland. We need to teach our young people the dangers of these lethal drugs, as it is a knowledge that they need to possess, and we need to do it now. 

With the power of knowledge comes the power of action. Together we can fight this issue.