Opioid epidemic invades Bootheel
The entire country is in its grip and the death rates continue to rise.
The problem is opioid addiction and itís become an epidemic.
The Center for Disease Control released a county by county study and it shows that the opioid addiction epidemic has hit rural areas hardest.
Missouriís hottest spots are indeed, largely rural areas including the northern part of the state, the southeast corner, and a large portion of southern counties around Springfield.
But how did we get in this situation?
Many theories abound to why rural areas have noticeably higher rates.
They include older populations, physical jobs in agriculture and manufacturing that is more prone to injuries.Also fewer alternatives for pain relief such as physical therapy, acupuncture and surgery.
Having said all that we must acknowledge the huge elephant in the room, Big Pharm.
Attention has finally been focused on the source of all those millions of pain pills, pharmaceutical manufacturers and the powerful national distributors that push the pills.
These corporate giants have created a generation of addicts and revived heroin use to a national epidemic.
Opioid medication distribution is now a $500 billion a year industry.
The system is clearly broken and the epidemic as taken far too many lives.
Of course as in the majority of times there is money fueling the proliferation of opioids.
According to the federal database, Open Payments, New York doctors alone were paid $164 million last year by pharmaceutical and medical device companies.
Many times there is a need for these relationships between drug companies and doctors such as for research and education, but with the opioid epidemic this does raise questions concerning Big Pharmís financial incentives.
Heroin kills about 140 people daily.
Earlier this year Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill launched a formal investigation into opioid makers and distributors.
President Trump has officially declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency.
With this declaration there has been a call for more drug courts, better training for doctors and penalties for insurers who do not cover addiction treatment.
However there has not been a request for additional money to be spent to combat the nations drug problem.
While this process moves along we as a community can help those in need.
Addiction is a soul sickness and the investigations of Big Pharm and their massive distribution of opioids is nowhere near the entire answer.
As a community we can offer tolerance, education, treatment, and support to those suffering.
A poem by Charles C. Finn illustrates the plight of the addict beautifully.
One verse states:
Do not pass me by.
It will not be easy for you.
A long conviction of worthlessness builds strong walls.
The nearer you approach me, the blinder I may strike back.
I fight against the very thing I cry out for.
Donít pass them by.
Donít ignore the problem.
Itís not going away and weíre losing the battle.
Remember, what I do for myself is lost. What I do for others may be written somewhere in eternity.
Prayerfully we will have charity for the suffering addict and continue strong in the solution.
See you out there.