America’s Opioid Epidemic and how you can help

Lilly Thomas, Staff Writer/Photographer

Opioids, man-made compounds that include prescription painkillers such as oxycodone (more commonly known as OxyContin) and the illegal drug heroin, are causing addiction and death at alarmingly high numbers. In 2017 alone, more than 72,000 Americans died from overdosing on opioids. The impact of the opioid epidemic, while devastating all across the country, is especially prevalent in the midwest and east coast regions where opioids are more likely to be prescribed and, in turn, claim lives.

While the situation may seem helpless, there are several ways to get involved and help to lessen the effects of the opioid epidemic on your community.America’s Opioid Epidemic and How You Can Help

Educate yourself

There are several credible organizations with websites that have information about the statistical side of the opioid epidemic, such as the National Institute of Drug Abuse  and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Interesting documentaries about the health crisis include “Heroin(e), Warning: This Drug May Kill You” and “Understanding the Opioid Epidemic.”

Dispose of old and unneeded medications

Making sure that expired or unneeded prescription medications are discarded properly is important in ensuring that they don’t end up in the wrong hands. In Monroe County, you can dispose of your old medications at the Monroe County Solid Waste Management District at 3400 South Street or in the lobby of  IU Health Bloomington Hospital, located at 601 W Second Street.

Volunteer

Bloomington has several organizations that provide services to those affected by the opioid epidemic, such as the Indiana Recovery Alliance and the Amethyst House.