Due to high opioid overdose rates, addiction to these prescription drugs has been one of the most talked about political subjects in recent years. The issue is more severe than many are aware of, with a 2019 survey from the National Institute on Drug Abuse stating that every day, more than 130 people in the United States die after overdosing on opioids.
The issue of opioid overdoses is widely acknowledged as a national crisis. However, in recent years overdose numbers have dropped, thanks to new medical advances, as well as increased awareness in the field of opioid addiction. One such advancement has come in the form of a “miracle drug,” naloxone. Naloxone, also known as Narcan, is a non-addictive medication used to counter the effects of opioid overdoses. Certain school districts across America are beginning to incorporate this medication into their health programs in an attempt to ensure that they are fully equipped to deal with the increased health risks that come along with increased access to prescription opioids for today’s youth. This initiative is something that should be encouraged at Berkeley High School (BHS). However, standing in the way of this is an abundance of myths and stigmas around addiction. Critics of the program are arguing that openly distributing the drug will increase opioid use in youth, similar to the argument about the distribution of birth control in high schools. Contrary to this belief, a recent study published in the BMJ, a peer review medical journal, discovered that by distributing the drug to opioid users and their family and friends, they effectively prevented 327 overdoses simply by educating at risk communities about opioid addiction and providing them with the medication necessary to intervene during an overdose. Similarly, a 2018 study published by the US National Library of Medicine found that students in schools that provided condoms had less unwanted pregnancies and STDs. Essentially, by providing the resources needed to prevent these issues in teens, we reduce the overall risk as opposed to encouraging it.
Ultimately, addiction is a disease and needs to be addressed as such. The stigmatization of drug addiction is one of the main issues standing in the way of preventing opioid related deaths. One wouldn’t argue that heart defibrillators shouldn’t be publicly accessible because their presence might discourage exercising or addressing the root problem of the issue. Similarly, blaming people with addictions is simply an ineffective and irresponsible solution to this issue. By creating awareness and easy access to overdose treatment, we can prevent opioids from having the devastating effect that they currently do.