According to VOX.com, 2017 was the worst year ever for drug overdose deaths in America:
According to preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 72,000 people in the US are predicted to have died from drug overdoses in 2017 — nearly 200 a day. That’s up from 2016, which was already a record year in which roughly 64,000 people in the US died from overdoses.
72,000 people dead. 200 people each day. It’s nearly impossible to get one’s head around the magnitude of the problem until it impacts you or someone you care about.
One of the dear families in my life lost their son to a drug overdose on Thanksgiving Day. He was 27. His memorial service is December 2, 2018, the day I write this. His death has hit the family like a ton of bricks–they had no idea that their son was at risk. Perhaps their son didn’t realize he was at risk either. He was a fabulous young man from a great family that loved him very much.
The family is awaiting a toxicology report to learn his cause of death. Does the substance that took his life really matter? In the bigger scheme of things “no.” The report won’t bring him back. The family wants to know what took their son’s life. I would, too.
If I think of their son’s death being represented by a stone tossed into a still pond, the ripple effect spreads as more and more people learn of the news.
This wasn’t supposed to happen to this family. This wasn’t supposed to happen to his employer and their team. This wasn’t supposed to happen to all who knew and loved him.
Last year, some 72,000 individuals kicked off the ripple effect with profoundly sad consequences.
Illicit drugs aren’t pharmaceuticals–they are uncontrolled chemicals of indeterminate strength that can overwhelm a person’s body in seconds or minutes. Even if you’ve tried something before, there is no guarantee that the next dosage will be like the last. It is like a game of Russian Roulette with an unknown outcome. Some make it; some don’t.
While many people believe they are invincible or “it won’t happen to me,” there are perhaps as many as 72,000 people who believed that. And, countless others who have been permanently damaged by drug overdoses.
I’m writing this so that you might have a conversation with your children, their friends, their parents, your grand kids, their place of worship, their schools, etc. The government isn’t going to fix this. Help is not on the way.
Instead, let’s start a national conversation today with no end.
Let’s do something proactively to stop drug overdose deaths. We can’t bring their son back but I believe that if we can prevent this from happening to even one family, his death will not have been in vain.