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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Opioid Addiction in Small-Town America

opioid overdose
In this week's issue of The New Yorker, the “Faces of an Epidemic” were on display. You probably know which epidemic is referred to here, the opioid addiction epidemic. The article is comprised mostly of pictures from photographer Phillip Montgomery, with four paragraphs provided by essayist Margaret Talbot.

Phillip Montgomery took his camera to the front lines of the opioid crisis, small-town America. He captures solemnly the devastation wrought by opioid use disorder, the rifts it leaves in communities. Nothing is uplifting about this article, but it’s eye-opening and should be digested by as many readers as possible.

With all the national attention this issue has received, there has only been limited progress. Overdoses continue to mount, addicts struggle to access treatment, and the death rate grows. Talbot points out the quietness of this tragedy and the “delayed sense of calamity.” Or, as the Montgomery County, Ohio, coroner says: it’s a “mass-casualty event,” but one played out in slow motion.


Refrigerated House of The Dead

The article provides some figures worth keeping in mind, data that will hopefully lead to greater action. Well over 50,000 Americans die from overdose every year. Opioids are now the leading cause of death for Americans under 50. Just to put that into perspective, overdose takes more lives than:
  • Motor vehicle crashes
  • Gun homicides
  • and AIDS at the height of the epidemic.
The bulk of photos taken and on display in The New Yorker are from Montgomery County. The area lost 127 people to overdose in 2010; a number that nearly tripled last year with 349 deaths. There were sixty-five overdose deaths in January of this year, alone. The morgue is short on space; as a result, the coroner is renting refrigerated trailers and space from local funeral homes. Talbot writes:

“If there’s hope at this moment in the epidemic, which killed more than sixty-four thousand Americans last year, it’s that many people in the harrowing center of the crisis want it to be witnessed. They want the depths of the problem acknowledged. There is courage in the willingness to be seen, and that courage is on display in Philip Montgomery’s photographs…”

Please take a moment to watch an interview with Phillip Montgomery:

If you are unable to watch, please click here.

Opioid Use Disorder Recovery

Overdoses are reversible, but there is no guarantee that naloxone will work, especially when synthetic opioids are involved. The most effective way to avoid overdose is to seek addiction recovery. Those who seek help find that life in recovery is possible; they discover that living life on life’s terms is possible.

Please contact Whiteside Manor to begin your journey of recovery. We will teach you skills and provide you with tools that will help you keep your disease at bay. With the help of a program of recovery, you can live a life free from drugs, alcohol, and the risk of overdose.

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