This blog has long been an advocate for not only traveling but also social justice more generally. Our main focus is on families, ALL families, using eco-tourism and education to expand horizons and instill hope into daily life.
Over the years, it’s become clear that the opioid crisis in America has reached epidemic proportions. This was before Covid-19. Now on top of an addiction and overdose epidemic, we also have a pandemic with which to contend, a pandemic that is killing around 3,000 Americans every day.
Yes, this is a dark time. The only way to overcome ignorance and tragedy is with education, empathy, and understanding. So for this post, we’re going to focus on the opioid crisis that has destroyed families from coast to coast in this country.
What are opioids?
Opioids are often confused as a specific drug, but they are actually a class of different strong painkillers that include oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, and Fentanyl. They range in strength from the relatively weak meds prescribed after simple surgeries like tooth extractions, such as Vicodin and Percocet (examples of hydrocodone and oxycodone, respectively) to the vastly more powerful and dangerous opioids like Fentanyl, which is used for major surgery and cancer.
Disturbingly, newer and stronger opioids are introduced to the market all the time. For example, the FDA recently approved the drug Dsuvia for medical use. If you’re asking what is Dsuvia, you’re not alone. Dsuvia is said to be “5 to 10 times stronger than Fentanyl…and 500 to 1000 times more powerful than morphine.”
While Dsuvia is intended for specialized use on the battlefield, critics worry it will end up being distributed around the country to people who don’t understand how powerful it is. This is how opioids can cause so many overdoses. From Wilmington, North Carolina; Anniston, Alabama; and Panama City, Florida to Enid, Oklahoma; Johnson City, Tennessee; and Amarillo, Texas, the opioid epidemic has raged for years. Some of the hardest-hit states, beautiful regions many enjoy traveling to—like West Virginia, New Hampshire, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts—have declared state emergencies.
Tragically, so many families in these wonderful states are suffering loss, pain, and heartbreak.
How bad is the crisis?
It’s hard to even get our head around this, but the statistics don’t lie: every day 130 Americans die from an opioid overdose. Since 1999, there have been 3 major waves of opioid-related deaths and in that time, from 1999 to 2018, approximately 450,000 Americans have died from a related overdose.
Needless to say, the crisis is bad, very bad, and public awareness and education are paramount.
What can we do?
As we said, education is critical right now. People need to know how addictive opioids are. Even a single prescription of a mild opioid for a relatively minor injury can trigger a lifetime of struggle.
Since the drug is designed to interact with your brain’s natural receptors and block pain signals, opiates serve as a powerful sedative on which people can easily become dependent. Even people who didn’t previously have addictive personalities can suddenly find themselves in the battle of a lifetime fending off the desire to take pills.
For this reason, it’s best just to avoid them altogether if possible. Most injuries can be managed with non-opioid painkillers, and there are often very effective alternatives if you have chronic pain.
Life can be tough, and sometimes it’s tempting to take a shortcut that reduces the pain. However, in the long run it’s more healthy to pursue your passions while managing your pain. If your main loves in life are family, travel, friendship, and/or adventure, devote yourself to those causes and live life to the fullest.