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The dead won’t heal

In Community, Community Contributors by OC Monitor Staff

**This piece was submitted as part of our Community Contributor pilot project in collaboration with the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University.

By Angie Hudnall / OC Monitor Community Contributor

The Center Of Disease Control states, “On average, 115 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.”

At the rate of 115 a day, in a year, it’s enough people to equal Beaver Dam’s population 11 times. Yes, look at every man, women and child living in Beaver Dam. Now multiply by 11 more Beaver Dams. Eleven more hometowns filled with men, women and children. People you know, your family, and your friends. All gone.

This is how many Americans are dying needlessly. And the number is climbing.

Mind-blown.

“Okay, okay, it’s a lot of people. But come on, these are drug addicts. And besides it’s not a problem here.”

Being from a small town, you may think it’s not a problem here. Well, then you probably aren’t aware, Kentucky is in an opioid overdose epidemic.

Every day four people, in Kentucky, die of a drug overdose.

Ohio County is not immune, having at least 22 overdoses reported in the 2016 Overdose Fatality Report from the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy.

Twenty-two may not sound like an alarming number to you. But do this. Go to your favorite social media site. Pick 22 of your friends. Now imagine all 22 of them have overdosed. All 22 of them were taking opioids. All of them are now gone.

“Oh no, these 22 people…These are good people. That would never happen to them. They would never take opioids let alone overdose on them.”

Surely you would agree any of them could have a surgical procedure. Any one of them could be in an automobile accident. Any of them could play sports and suffer an injury. Any of them could suffer chronic back, knee, or neck pain.

These are only a few examples of how anyone could start taking opioids. Yes. Any of them, including you. You could add to the number of 22 overdoses.

What people aren’t understanding is addiction.

“Why I’ve never been addicted to anything in my life. I can handle my medicine.”

Do you ever drink coffee? Get up in the morning and think, “I really need a cup of coffee to get going.” Or how about a soda? About 2 p.m. at work every day you find yourself at the vending machine for that afternoon pick me up? Or, what about your favorite dessert? You know it’s loaded with sugar, but you just have to eat it.

Addiction means:

  • You use more than you should.
  • You continue to use even though there are bad effects.

Follow me here?

“Oh yes. Sugar isn’t going to cause me to overdose.”

You’re right. But it can cause diabetes. And…diabetes can be the cause of your death.

Sugar is an addiction. An addiction is an addiction. Don’t you see?

What do we do now?

Drop the stigma. Stop the judging. Addiction doesn’t happen overnight. Instead of turning away, reach out. You can help.

Throw a lifeline to someone you know.

For people seeking treatment for themselves or others, for support or treatment answers, call 833-8KY-HELP (1-833-859-4357).

Or visit this website: http://operationunite.org/treatment/kyhelp-call-center/

Educate yourself.

http://www.dontletthemdie.com/

Be prepared to act fast.

Get trained and have Narcan available in case someone has overdosed. It’s now available without a prescription in Kentucky at the pharmacy. I would urge all employers to have someone trained on their site. You do not have to have a medical background to learn this lifesaving treatment.

For free and easy training, check out http://www.getnaloxonenow.org/online_training.html

Get involved locally.

Ohio County has an ASAP organization, or Alliance for Substance Abuse Prevention, which meets the fourth Thursday of every month in the Fiscal Court Room in the Ohio County Community Center. At these meetings, members discuss opioid issues, awareness and community events related to substance abuse issues. Anyone who wants to volunteer is welcome to attend. Your involvement will make a difference.

Be a part of a solution.

Angie Hudnall

Angie Hudnall lives in Cromwell, Ky., and is a health improvement nurse for Perdue Farms. She has been a registered nurse for 18 years in long-term care, physical rehab, mental health, substance abuse treatment, and home health.

Find out more about our Community Contributors here.

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