By William JA Pinnock
Welcome to another installment of the Link Round Up presents news about the opioid epidemic. You may be wondering why I have been doing so many stand alone posts around this topic. Well, the reason is 1) it’s an important and pressing issue in this country and 2) it seems like every day there is a update or I find some past article that helps provide context for the situation, and that’s what happened today. So without further ado, take a breath and get ready to feel equal parts frustration and sadness as we continue to get educated on the opioid epidemic.
Let start as far back at the beginning as we can. This 2014 article from The Atlantic traces the history of opium/heroin addiction from when it was first concocted, to Confessions of an Opium Eater published in the 1800’s, and ending in 2014 with the passing of American actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Interesting fact not included in the article: the name “heroin” is derived from the German word for “heroic”.
With that context of the history of opium/heroin, let’s delve a little deeper into the history of Oxycontin and how it helped fan the flames of the opium epidemic.
Now that we’ve gotten all that context, let’s look to the present day and examine a new side effect of the opioid epidemic: rising rates of hepatitis C infections. From the StarTribune, “….hepatitis C is infecting tens of thousands of mostly young, white injection drug users, with the highest prevalence in the same Appalachian, Midwestern, and New England states that are seeing the steepest overdose death rates.” Read more about these rising rates here.
A year ago, Maine enacted some of the toughest laws in the country around opioid prescription. Hooray! But what does it look like a year later? Have the numbers of pills prescribed gone down? Have more people sought alternatives to opioids? Read more at NPR about the effect of limiting opioid prescription.
“In the end, there were just too many names. The toll of the dead was to have been read on the steps of West Virginia’s capitol building, in the state worst hit by America’s opioid epidemic…But by the time overdose awareness day was held on Saturday, more than 1,000 names of those killed by prescription painkillers, heroin, or artificial opioids had been submitted.” Read more from the Guardian about the impact of opioids in West Virginia.