“Celebrating Lost Loved Ones” Map is one of the novel initiatives taken by the National Safety Council (NSC), a non-profit organization, to disseminate awareness about the current opioid crisis, and fulfil its mission of culminating it. The initiative allows friends and family members of the diseased to pay homage by posting an image of the loved ones along with their description and place of death on an interactive map. Till now, more than 1,300 memorials are up from different states like New York, Florida, California, Ohio, Massachusetts, among others.
According to the data analysis by the NSC, in 2016, nearly 161,374 people succumbed to opioid-related preventable and unintentional injuries whereas unintentional opioid overdoses claimed 37,814 lives. President and CEO, Deborah A.P. Hersman shared that one in four people are affected by the opioid crisis directly in the United States. The map is a tribute to the ones who lost their lives and aims to “reduce the stigma around opioid-related deaths.”
The map was created by Jeremiah Lindermann, a solution engineer at Esri (global market leader in geographic information system software) and a New America Fellow in late 2016 after the death of his younger brother to opioids. The map allows the grieving friends and families to come together, share stories with each other and find solace in the supportive community.
Lindermann shared that it was an honor for Esri to work with the Council in this direction. In the past also, Esri had worked with many local governments to propagate awareness about opioid crisis using analytics and mapping technology. The company has launched several location-based tools for better understanding of the situation and find the most appropriate approach for managing it.
Prior efforts by NSC
In November 2017, NSC had launched a nationwide public campaign “Prescribed to Death: A Memorial to the Victims of the Opioid Crisis” in a similar manner. The wall carried 22,000 pills, each engraved with the picture of a person who lost life to the opioid crisis. The memorial travelled to different states like Chicago, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Ohio and Washington D.C. The campaign also encouraged users to return unused medications in ‘Seal&Send’ envelopes and promoted talks around the risks of opioids and safe alternatives.
Tips for preventing opioid abuse at home
Prescription opioids are often gateway drugs to other heroin, cocaine and other illegal substances. As they provide immense relief from chronic or intense pain, and are easy to procure, addiction can set in soon. It’s important to maintain proper storage at home to prevent it from falling in the hands of innocent children and other family members, and minimize the risk of misuse.
Here are some tips to manage opioid medications and prevent more people from getting addicted.
- Keeping them out of reach – It is important to keep opioids in locked cupboards and the keys hidden. If possible, these medications should be stored in bottles with child-resistant-caps.
- Keeping track – One must keep a track of the medicine by counting the number of pills or syrups lying in stock regularly to rule out chances of abuse.
- Disposing of properly – If disposal instructions are mentioned on the label then they must be followed but if not, then the drug should be mixed with any undesirable substance like used coffee or kitty litter, properly sealed and disposed of far away from home. One can also take advantage of Drug Take Back Days to know more about safe disposal techniques and discard any leftovers.
- Never saving for the next time – Opioids are highly addiction-forming substances so there is no need to save them for the next time. Once the condition is treated or the patient no longer needs it, they must be disposed of at all costs.
- Avoid sharing– It is important not to share the medicine prescribed for someone else because this can also pave the way for addiction. Prescription sharing too should be avoided.
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