Opioids are an epidemic in Virginia

Opioids are an epidemic in Virginia with 1,400 opioid overdose fatalities, and of these deaths, they show a 38 percent increase from 2015, according to The Washington Post. Radford students give their say in the matter.

Residential assistant Marcus Reed, a graphic design sophomore and Isaac Gomez, a theater freshman both state they know about opioids and what people use them for, but they are not aware of the adverse effects of the drugs throughout the state of Virginia, as it relates to addiction.

“It is obviously not a good thing,” Gomez said. “Any drug-related death is kind of bad, you know? There’s not a hierarchy in terms of which one is which, in my mind. Oh, that person died on opioids, that’s okay but this one on crack, that’s a problem.”

According to CNN, “The abuse of opioids, including prescription painkillers and drugs like heroin, is something the United States has struggled with since before the 1900s. However, it is a problem that keeps coming back.”

PBS reports that legislators in Maryland have passed a law requiring that students be educated four times — twice in elementary school, once in high school and once at the college level for incoming full-time students — on the dangers of opioids, including heroin.

According to The Virginia-Pilot, Virginia schools are now pushing for education about drugs harder after the death of Brooke Mitchel, a 17-Year-old honor student, in Virginia Beach. Mitchel died on Jan. 5, 2017, of an opioid overdose.

“Virginia Beach will begin the second year of a ramped-up effort in which children as young as first grade will learn about the risks of prescription drugs,” The Virginia-Pilot reported.

People need to “be more attentive with it in schools and the university 101 thing. That should be something taught in that class if it is not already and maybe just like little seminars on drug use and awareness as there should be,” Radford Student Marcus Reed said.

Radford’s university 101 class is a class given to incoming freshman to teach them about how college life works, what to do, what not to do, and how to succeed throughout the student’s college career.

“I think it is a good idea. I mean there’s one way you can hammer it into kids not to do it would be to show them the pictures of all the dead people. However, at the same time do not do that because they are just kids, so I mean people have been told not to do that stuff for all their life I imagine,” Gomez said.

“Obviously, it’s different; a crack parent is not going to tell their son not to do it because they do it. Maybe they do though. I feel like it is a good start. It is not the solution, but it is a good start,” Gomez stated further.

PBS further reports that this law applies to all higher education institutions that accept state money — and therefore includes private colleges that receive such funds. The law also requires naloxone (which can be used in cases of overdoses) to be stocked by campus police and public safety officers.

“I feel like, this also just goes back into health classes almost in the sense of sex-ed classes how there being pushed off to the side, that stuff needs to be more of the forefront,” Gomez said. “This is your body, this is how it functions, this is what can harm it, and this is what can help it. That is stuff people need to know more than the Pythagorean theorem.”

“Now, federal agencies are trying to tackle the problem in different ways,” CNN reported. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently issued guidelines for prescribing opioids for chronic pain, part of an effort to push doctors to prescribe pain medications responsibly. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that immediate-release opioid painkillers such as oxycodone and fentanyl will now have to carry a “black box” warning about the risk of abuse, addiction, overdose, and death.

Gomez and Reed both mention that police will not be there all the time. They can stop drug houses and more significant events, but it will not stop someone across town to take them irresponsibly. It is up to friends, family, and the community to be aware of these drugs and prevent the deaths of good kids like Brooke Mitchel.

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