A Personal Plea to #StopEverydayKillers
Last night, I was privileged to get a D.C. first look at the National Safety Council (NSC) Prescribed to Death Memorial to better understand the depth of the opioid crisis. The memorial brought to life this public health epidemic and the personal story I have to share, which I’ll get back to in a bit.
- 22,000 people are killed each year by a prescription opioid overdose. That averages out to more than 60 deaths per day.
- In 2015, the number of opioids prescribed in the U.S. was enough for every American to be medicated around the clock for three weeks.
- Nearly 6 in 10 Americans have leftover opiates at home, and 20% have shared those with another person.
- Before today is over, 5,800 people will have misused an opioid pain medication for the first time.
But, even more important, the memorial gave a closer look at the faces that make up the horrendous statistics. And, in the memorial’s own words:
My father is one of those faces. I am part of one of those stories.
I was personally victimized (apologies, needed a carefree Mean Girls reference to help me write this) by the opioid crisis before it was even recognized as a crisis. In 2010, my dad was one of the people who, every 24 minutes, died from prescription opioids.
My whole childhood my dad struggled with anxiety and depression; but, when I was a pre-teen, that morphed into an addiction to painkillers—to him a way, that was easily accessible, to subdue his emotional pain.
Last night, for the first time, I was able to honor his struggle, instead of fearing the stigma of his disease. I added his name to the memorial.
What I felt even more honored by was the recognition that getting and giving help is difficult. NSC is providing (for free!) simple, easy-to-use resources to prevent this from happening to any other fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, friends and neighbors:
- Stericycle Seal&Send Envelopes: Envelopes to mail unused prescription medications to be properly destroyed in a secure and safe environment.
- Warn-Me Label Card: Self-stick labels to put on your insurance and prescription cards to let your medical professionals know you want to discuss the risks of being prescribed opioids and whether there are safer alternatives.
Together and with the right resources, we can all get the most lethal drugs out of our medicine cabinets, our homes, our communities, our lives.
The Prescribed to Death Memorial is in Washington, D.C. and open to the public from April 12-18, 9am – 7pm, at the Ellipse in President’s Park at the White House.