Letter to the Editor: It should not take the death of a loved one to care about the opioid epidemic

By Letter to the Editor, by Vivian Piña

Earlier this year, I lost a close family member to fentanyl.

I have to help her—When I first heard of her death, that was my first thought. I have to help her. But in my case, I was already too late.

In 2017, 130 people died every day from opioid-related drug overdoses, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Those who do not directly face addiction do not immediately associate danger with the epidemic, and this by itself is a danger to our community.

Fentanyl is one of the main killers within the opioid epidemic—an epidemic I knew little of before my family’s life was mangled by it.

In 2016, Cook County had the second-highest number of reports of fatal fentanyl overdoses in the United States, according to an Aug. 15, 2017, article by The Washington Post. The stigmas surrounding the opioid epidemic, as well as addiction, allow those unaffected by it to be unsympathetic to the rise of deaths that come with it.

It’s a privilege to be oblivious to the opioid epidemic. Educating yourself on the topic and doing more research on how to help those fighting addiction will aid our community tremendously. Advocating toward breaking the stigmas surrounding addiction will make it easier for those who need help to reach out for it.

Recovery is obtainable. Check-in with family, friends and loved ones. Reach out to those who need it most.

Need help? Call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357, or locate a treatment center near you at https://www.hhs.gov/opioids/

Vivian Piña

Social media and digital strategy major