The National Security Council (NSC), a non-profit organization, has launched a nationwide public campaign by giving a face to the opioid crisis. It has unveiled a memorial wall that includes 22,000 pills each of which is engraved with the face of someone who lost his/her life due to an opioid overdose. The wall is called “Prescribed to Death: A Memorial to the Victims of the Opioid Crisis”. Through the campaign, the Council urges the public to forget about the big picture and take a closer look at the stories of numerous victims. The memorial opens on Friday, Nov. 10, 2017, and will be in Chicago through Nov. 16, 2017. Over the next few months, the memorial will make stops in Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Ohio and Washington D.C.
The national education campaign to “Stop Everyday Killers” begins ahead of the poll results released by the Council on Nov. 9, 2017. The poll revealed that one in four Americans has either become addicted to opioids himself or herself, or knows someone who has become addicted or someone who died from an opioid overdose.
‘Earn Me’ labels and ‘Seal&Send’ envelops
According to the poll results, one in three Americans prescribed an opioid in the past three years was unaware that he or she was using an opioid. As a step to reduce the number of opioids in circulation, the NSC has created ‘Opioids: Earn Me’ labels that can be used on insurance and pharmacy cards. The labels would help patients and health care providers talk about the potential risks of taking opioids and possible alternatives.
In addition, the campaign also provides prepaid envelopes to return unused medications. The ‘Seal&Send’ envelopes are being provided by Stericycle, Inc., a business-to-business services company based in the U.S. According to the company’s president and CEO, Charles A. Alutto, “Stericycle is proud to be the exclusive pharmaceutical disposal partner of the National Safety Council. At its core, Stericycle is committed to helping combat the opioid epidemic with the most comprehensive pharmaceutical disposal options in the market.”
One victim every 24 minutes
According to the NSC, prescription opioid overdose claims one life in every 24 minutes and 60 lives every day, making about 22,000 opioid fatalities every year. As per the Council, opioids are being overprescribed with 70 percent of people misusing them reportedly getting drugs from their friends or relatives. On the memorial, a new face gets carved every 24 minutes representing the frequency of the overdose.
A group of chemically similar drugs, opioids include heroin and prescription pain relievers, such as hydrocodone, oxycodone and morphine. The results from the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reveal that 11.8 million people (aged 12 or above) misused opioids in the past year and 948,000 people in the same age group misused heroin. When used as prescribed, opioids are safe, effective and help in relieving pain. However, using them beyond the prescribed dose can lead to drug tolerance and dependence. Depending on the duration, frequency and the amount of drug abused, treatment for opioid abuse and addiction at certified drug rehab facilities may involve a holistic combination of detoxification and behavioral therapies.
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