By Alec Nunez
The American opioid epidemic continues to sweep the nation as more lives are lost, one of the most recent and emphasizing examples being that of a mother who, on June 14th, 2015, lost two of her children to the prevalent issue.
The day’s events unfolded as follows: Becky Savage’s two eldest sons arrived home at 12:30 in the morning after celebrating at high school graduation parties. The next morning Savage entered her son Jack’s room to gather laundry. As she shook him in an attempt to wake him up, she realized he reciprocated no response. As she yelled for her other son, Nick, to come upstairs, Savage recalls “hollering for Nick, and how he never came.” First responders arrived and began attempts to resuscitate Jack, one of the many on scene walking down the basement stairs to which Nick was said to be asleep in. Savage “had no idea what they were doing in [the] basement. And then [she] remember[ed] one of them coming up and asking for a coroner.”
The boys were pronounced dead, victim to an accidental overdose on a mixture of opioids and alcohol. The fatal opioid was said to be hydrocodone, a “bad choice that unfortunately costed them their lives.”
Opioids have become increasingly available to the average American ever since big pharmaceutical companies pushed to incorporate the drugs into mainstream medicine with promises of an addiction-free solution. Today drug overdose has become so commonplace that the lives lost are now nothing more than numbers. In 2016 alone more than 64,000 Americans died from drug overdose, this statistic being higher than the year before it and the year before that. When 2017’s statistics arise, it is likely the trend will have continued with the death toll being greater than the previous year’s 64,000.
Every day, according to drugabuse.gov, more than 115 people die as a result of overdose. Drugs such as fentanyl are commonly abused, so much so that it is estimated this abuse results in $78.5 billion a year being dedicated to treatments, healthcare, and criminal justice involvement, an amount the government states to be an “economic burden”.
How can we solve this problem? When looking from the inside out, it can be observed that when given only fire, man isn’t always destined to watch the world burn. This principle is already being followed by activist groups such as that founded by Savage, a group called the 525 foundation. Savage hopes to, by sharing her story, prevent more overdose related deaths and guide families away from walking the dark path of opioid abuse.