Please go to the above link and watch Henry's Story. Henry is a young man who died of a narcotic pill overdose on May 31 of this year. Apart from the human tragedy of it, I think his story has so captured me because he is three days younger than my own son. I was going through all the same stages of parenting my son at the same time Katie Granju was parenting hers. Like my own son, this boy was deeply loved and well provided for in terms of schooling and people who cherished him. It was not enough to save him from an accidental overdose epidemic that is stealing so many of our young.
Please share with your children that we are in the midst of a largely unreported prescription pill epidemic that is killing our children at unprecedented rates. Back in the 1970s, the prevailing wisdom was that cocaine was not addictive. A decade later, in the wake of devastated lives and too many deaths, we knew it was. We're in that place again, this time with narcotic prescription pain pills, and many young people just don't know the dangers. It is not okay to just swallow a pill that a friend offers at a party. Addiction can happen to anyone. It's not a playful, passing thing. It's so damn serious. And all too often, it is deadly.
A 2005 report by Columbia University’s National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) documented the problem.
"This report revealed that our nation is in the throes of a growing epidemic of controlled prescription drug abuse involving opioids like OxyContin and Vicodin, depressants like Valium and Xanax, and stimulants like Ritalin and Adderall,” Joseph A. Califano, Jr. CASA Chairman and President, told the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2007.
Just last year advocacy group Drug Policy Alliance stated, “There is an overdose epidemic across the country.”
The numbers are mind boggling and rapidly escalating. According to the Drug Policy Alliance:
“In 2006, more than 26,000 lives were lost in the U.S. to the preventable tragedy of accidental drug overdose. This is the highest number of accidental drug overdoses ever recorded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This crisis now claims more lives each year than firearms, homicides or HIV/AIDS. Accidental drug overdose is currently the leading cause of injury-related death in the United States for people between the ages of 35-54 and the second leading cause of injury-related death for young people."