It seems like a never-ending cycle that just keeps getting worse, no matter what the response. The US is setting records each year for deaths due to drug overdose. The latest statistic is 106,699 deaths in 2021 across the country according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
Most experts on drug abuse believe that number is under-reported. There are many reasons that drug overdose deaths are not all recorded properly. Every death does not include a drug screen, and while there may be other apparent causes of death, for example, a car accident, a drug overdose may have been involved. In any case, the 2021 number represents just about double the total fatalities to our troops according to Vietnam War U.S. Military Fatal Casualty Statistics in the entire Vietnam War – 58,220. To say we are not in a war against drugs is to ignore history and reality.
Dad, nobody wants to be an addict.Our daughter, Amber
Our Family’s Battle
My wife and I unknowingly entered the war on drugs in 1994 when our athletic daughter ruptured her ACL at age 14. Being prescribed pain pills for the post-surgery began a 20-year descent into the ugly and dangerous world of substance abuse. She was part of the statistic that 80% of people addicted to opiates start out with prescription pills, and we were living that tortuous lifestyle with her. Back then prescription pills were often abused – Oxycontin was king. Marijuana, cocaine, LSD, and methamphetamines were always a part of the drug scene. The hallucinogenic THC component of weed has increased from 2-4% in the 60s and 70s to typically 12-13% today with the average in Colorado of 19%. Weed has been produced with over 30% THC. That is part of the illegal drug trade problem. In the words of Forrest Gump, “You never know what you’re gonna get.”
Along came king heroin, a natural substance from the opium poppy plant, imported largely from Mexico and grown in places like Afghanistan. Heroin is a killer, and the popular chemical NARCAN was developed to reverse the effects of a heroin overdose. But the lucrative drug trade was not finished. Now synthetic fentanyl, 50-100 times more powerful than heroin, has a limitless supply because it is a synthetic produced in a lab and not dependent on growing in nature. Narcan still works on fentanyl, but it may take more doses than an emergency responder has available. That could be the kiss of death for an overdose victim. Now incredibly newer, stronger synthetics are hitting the market that are resistant to treatment with Narcan.
Where does it stop?
The death count keeps rising, the dealers are more creative, and the chemicals are getting more powerful. Hats off to law enforcement at all levels, service providers to the substance abuse and mental health community, the court system, educators, and all who battle to curtail the deadly effects of illegal drugs.
Drug addiction stops with the life change of the person addicted. When the customer base dries up, so does the rest of the market. Places like the Field of Hope are making a difference with a client success rate of over 90%. What is the formula? Hard work, counseling, encouragement, family engagement, prayer, and a willing change for the person caught up in addiction. They have to want it. Our daughter Amber got victory over addiction and now leads the FOH as executive director after graduating from Ohio Christian University. One of her statements is, “Dad, nobody wants to be an addict.” We believe that. Let’s change our little corner of the world and hope it catches on!
Organizations such as Field of Hope and Gallia-Jackson-Meigs ADAMH Board work to try to help those who are lost in addiction and unsure where to go or who to turn to. At Field of Hope, we understand that there can be many obstacles when rebuilding a new life in recovery. You will not do this alone. We provide services for drug, alcohol, and gambling addiction recovery and mental health care. Caring staff will walk alongside you to help you put the pieces together from start to finish. Call us today at (740) 245-3051