Link Round Up: Opioid Epidemic

Link Round Up: Opioid Epidemic

By William JA Pinnock

In today’s extra special version of the Link Round Up, we are going to dive into the world of the opioid epidemic. We are going to look at articles about the Cherokee Nation, coroners in Ohio, what’s happening in Minnesota with their rates of addiction, and a mapping project for those who have passed away.

Did you know West Virginia and Illinois have filed lawsuits against drug manufacturers in regards to the opioid epidemic? Did you also know that the Cherokee Nation has filed it’s own lawsuit?  The Cherokee Nation has filed a suit against Walgreens, CVS Health, Walmart, AmerisourceBergen, McKesson, and Cardinal Health. The lawyer for the Cherokee Nation states that the tribe has seen a rise in the number of opioid related deaths and the lawsuit is meant to help provide reimbursement to communities and discourage the current prescribing practices of opioids. Read more about the Cherokee Nation’s lawsuit here.

In Ohio, there has been such an increase in the number of suspected opioid overdose deaths that the state does not have the staff to conduct proper toxicology tests and keep accurate records. This means that coroners’ offices could be undercounting the number of opioid related deaths, blurring the impact the drug is having on the state.  To combat this, Ohio is trying to find new ways of increasing revenue so they can hire more staff and order more tests. Read about the strains the opioid epidemic has put on a county coroners’ offices here.

What happens when a state begins bringing attention to the opioid problem and implementing interventions? In Minnesota, they actually saw their numbers rise from the previous year, possibly due to  users who started on prescription pain pills having moved to heroin and synthetic fentanyl, which have seen an increase use in the state. This is a sad fact for the Land of 10,000 Lakes, but there’s also a bright spot. The increased attention and interventions have shown a decrease in teenagers trying opioids, so there is hope for a decrease in the future. Read more about the opioid epidemic in Minnesota here.

Finally, let’s end by looking at those who have lost their lives from this scourge. JT Lindemann is one of those victims: a man who was a brother, son, and friend. JT’s passing from opioids left his brother Jeremiah grieving in silence and eventually spurred him to create the Lost Loved Ones map: an interactive map displaying pictures and stories from state to state and town to town of those who have passed due to opioid abuse. It’s a beautiful memorial to all those who are victims of this epidemic and a reminder that there are people behind all the numbers we discuss. Read about and explore the Lost Loved Ones map here.