News about COVID-19 is available around the clock. COVID-19 is on everyone’s mind. We cannot forget that the world has not stopped spinning. Our everyday problems are still there and still require attention. During these unprecedented times, we need to keep our calm and work on the things we can. Everyone one of use is capable of making a positive impact on our families and communities.
Do Not Forget
We cannot forget that there is still a huge drug problem in the United States. The opioid epidemic has been one of the worst drug crises in American history. It has caused more deaths annually than car crashes or guns. Opioid prescriptions, at one point, were being prescribed at a rate of 40 percent higher than that in any other developed country. We have made massive strides in the right direction.
We have made Narcan readily available and offered training for first responders and police officers around the country. Another drug that has been causing big problems is methamphetamine. Methamphetamine, or meth, is a stimulant like cocaine. The way they are processed in the body is much different, though. The life span of cocaine in the body is drastically shorter than meth. This can lead people that prefer stimulants to turn to meth completely.
Meth has a much longer lifespan and a larger percent of the drug remains unchanged in the body. It remains in the brain and body longer, which leads to prolonged effects. There is an immediate rush when meth is consumed. It can be consumed in different ways like by injection, smoked through a pipe, snorted, or swallowed.
This first rush is chased, but almost impossible to obtain leading to repeated use over the span of days until the body finally crashes. During these binges, users do not eat, drink water, or sleep much or at all. Meth can take over very quickly and we cannot forget how quickly this drug can take over. Nationwide, overdose deaths from the category of drugs that includes methamphetamine increased by 7.5 times between 2007 and 2017. About 15 percent of all drug overdose deaths involved the methamphetamine category in 2017, and 50 percent of those deaths also involved an opioid.
There is Still a Problem
The numbers of overdoses have not gone away. They have only taken a back seat and snuck out of view because of the wave of panic of COVID-19. People that are struggling with addiction- please know there are still people out here waiting for your call.
The way these drugs take over people, families, and communities is truly scary. These drugs have created an epidemic and it is not slowing down. These drugs leave the body at risk for all types of diseases like Hepatitis B and C and HIV/AIDS. Having diseases like these will leave your immune system weakened.
They will leave you at a higher risk for contracting other diseases, including COVID-19. In 2018 alone, 67,367 drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States according to the CDC.
What We Can Do
We must all continue to take the precautions to protect ourselves from COVID-19. We have to continue social distancing and continued hand washing. However, during this time we can take some time to do some research and try to help those we know and love get help. This virus may not stop all drug addicts and alcoholics from continuing to try and keep using.
Addiction affects priorities. Addicts and alcoholics will still go out and seek out their drugs and booze. This does not mean they do not care about others. Addiction is a driving force unlike almost anything else. Addiction has always increased risky behaviors. Behaviors like sharing needles, having unprotected sex, sharing pipes, and sharing substandard living conditions.
Going through withdrawal alone is scary and extremely painful. So, we can try to get some people into rehabs and inpatient programs that are trained to help in the ways that addicts and alcoholics in the ways they need.
Addicts and alcoholics are always going to need help. Hopefully, we can reach these people in need of help before an overdose, but in case we don’t there are things in place for those trying to help. For example, in the state of Pennsylvania, there is an act called the Good Samaritan’ Provision of Act 139. This means that friends, loved ones, and bystanders are encouraged to call 911 for emergency medical services in the event an overdose is witnessed and to stay with the individual until help arrives.
The provision offers certain criminal and civil protections to the caller so that they cannot get in trouble for being present, witnessing, and reporting an overdose.
During this time of reaching out and trying to help each other, let us not forget there are still other problems that we can help with. We can use social media to share information. We can do small things that can help in big ways. Get creative and reach out in safe ways.