President Obama addressed the National Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin summit in Atlanta Tuesday, calling further attention to the drug epidemic in America just two weeks after the Centers for Disease Control issued new recommendations on limited the use of narcotic painkillers. Data clearly shows that opioid and heroin addiction have become an epidemic in the past 15 years.
But prescription painkillers and heroin are not the only drugs whose use has exploded in the past 15 years. Using the same CDC database that tracks the growth in fatal opioid and heroin overdoses, TIME collected data on cocaine, benzodiazepines (sedatives like Valium and Xanax) and stimulants like crystal meth. All three categories have risen dramatically since the year 2000, as the following charts show. see charts here
as a recovery advocate- overdose deaths are a bit over my league. but as a citizen and community member, i am compelled to listed to our younger advocates like justin luke riley and greg williams- both of whom are founding members of young people in recovery and share the task of heralding the new message- that talking about recovery being a solution is not enough. we have to more aggressively address this overdose issue. our friends and neighbors are dying at impossible rates and there is not much being done.
i haven’t quite realized how i can be of service in this area, but i know that i have to do something. i lived through the 80’s and 90’s when thousands of gay men were dying and there was nothing that we seemed to be able to do. but things changed and that situation changed. same thing- different day.
americans have become connoisseurs of roads we’ve been tasting all kinds of roads. just look at our society and politics. we’ve been sleepwalkers. somnambulists. we’ve had narcolepsy. it’s such a difficult problem to wrap our collective heads around, we haven’t even tried. this needs to change. today. with me.