Oklahoma, a state ravaged by the opioid epidemic and a number of addiction crises that followed, just secured a $250 million settlement with pharma distributors McKesson, Cardinal, and AmerisourceBergen for the role those companies played in Oklahoma’s addiction epidemic. Hopefully, Oklahoma will use the settlement to fund desperately needed treatment programs for struggling addicts.
Recent reports claim Oklahoma has the highest percentage of individuals 12 and older who are addicted to prescription drugs. But this is not a sudden or recent crisis. Rather, the above statistic represents more than a decade in the development of a sinister addiction crisis in Oklahoma, one where thousands of Oklahomans became addicted to the pills they thought would help them.
Methamphetamine overdose deaths have tripled across the United States. A drug that was not often flagged as the cause of death in drug use cases is now a life-threatening substance. And in the state of Oklahoma, it’s the #1 killer.
Indigenous tribes across the nation have made national headlines for officially labeling opioid overdose deaths as national emergencies. Indigenous tribes such as the Blackfeet of Montana and the Cherokee of Oklahoma are just two of the latest tribal nations to announce that opioid addiction is a crisis-level emergency within their tribal lands.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began tracking annual drug-related fatalities in the late-1990s. Since then, estimates show that over 1,000,000 people have died in the United States from drug overdoses, a grim milestone and a wake-up call for the American people.
It’s a new year, and with a new year comes new commitments and new decisions. For those struggling with addiction, now is the time to get better. Now is the time to seek treatment and finally step away from drug and alcohol abuse.
The holidays can be a moment of great cheer, of special family gatherings, of putting aside the troubles of the world and coming together with those who matter most. But for those who are in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction and for those who are simply trying to avoid mind-altering substances, this can be a particularly difficult time.
The last few years have seen hundreds of court cases levied against pharmaceutical companies for their role in fueling the opioid epidemic. One recent development came in the form of an unfortunate loss for plaintiffs, when the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled in favor of Johnson & Johnson.
When people think about the harm caused by alcohol consumption, their thoughts almost immediately go to alcohol misuse, binge drinking, alcohol addiction, and other forms of excessive alcohol use. However, research findings have shown that even drinking “in moderation“ causes harm, especially when extrapolated over a lifetime.
Expressing stigma towards addicts does nothing to help them. Stigma adds fuel to the roaring blaze of America’s addiction emergency, making it more difficult to solve the public health crisis. If more Americans could overcome the stigma associated with addiction, communities would be one step closer to solving the addiction epidemic.