The opioid crisis is reaching unprecedented levels in rural America.
According to The Center for Disease Control, the United States is in the midst of a prescription opioid and heroin overdose epidemic. In 2015, more than 33,000 people died of a drug overdose. And of this number, the CDC estimates that roughly half were related to prescription opioid use.
Earlier this year, a woman named Melissa Morris spoke with NPR about her prescription opioid dependency. The middle-aged mother explained that her addiction started 20 years ago, when she was given an opioid to ease the pain she was experiencing after having a C-section.
Once she took her first pill, she said, she immediately thought to herself, “Oh my God. Is this legal? How can this feel so good?” After that, she was hooked.
Unfortunately, Morris’ story is just one among thousands, and the widespread nature of the opioid crisis has people within the religious community very concerned.
“The problem is staring us in the face,” Father Mahoney, a licensed mental health counselor and canon lawyer in a small American New Hampshire town, told OSV Newsweekly.
“It’s a public health issue [and we can’t] turn our backs on these people,” he added.
To help combat the growing crisis, Mahoney is using his role as the director of clinical services at Catholic Charities New Hampshire to minister and care for those struggling with addiction.
“Jesus didn’t stay in a clinic or in an office,” Father Mahoney explained. “He went into the marketplace and healed the people he met there. So we said, what about the families of people who are addicted? Is anyone reaching out to them?”
Mahoney and his team concluded that no one was caring for this individuals, so they decided to step in to assist families and encourage addicts to get the help they need. So far, he’s been able to recruit families by holding ongoing presentations about opioid addiction.
Despite the hard work of Mahoney and so many others, data released last week by the CDC seems to indicate that these efforts are not enough. According to a study that analyzed the death rate from 2006-2015, the number of deaths associated with prescription drug overdose might actually be more than what’s actually been reported.
The new information is a game changer, according to Vox news. The media source stated that these new facts demonstrate that the opioid crisis is the deadliest drug crisis in history, and it’s most likely deadlier than we think.
Ottawa Anesthesiology recently published an infographic that teaches family members how to spot an overdose:
— OttawaAnesthesiology (@OttAnesthesia) May 1, 2017
If you or someone you know is battling opioid addiction, organizations like Sam Scripts, a faith-based addiction ministry, can help.
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