In my opinion, the opioid crisis is a matter of national proportions because of the death toll.
But it is clear to me that Alaska is the most affected state by the opioid crisis. Although it is not as densely populated, the concentration of prescription drugs to people is astonishing; as mentioned in the Empire’s Sunday article, “Opioid crisis still cuts deep in Alaska,” an outrageous 27 pills per person per year. And that is only what is reported and includes only prescription drugs.
Awareness programs are a good start for combating the opioid epidemic and statistical data proves effectiveness. The programs in Juneau add a hands-on experiment of dissolving the drugs away, giving the addicts a feeling of cleanliness. But these programs do nothing for the most afflicted addicts. Studies show that 80% of heroin users started with prescription opioids first (https://www.addictionsandrecovery.org/opioid-opiate-recovery.htm). These statistics are unacceptable and highlight a large source of drug addictions in this country.
But I believe there is a solution: marijuana. Marijuana is a natural herbal medicine that has been used for centuries longer than prescription pain killers. It is impossible to overdose, increases happiness, and relieves aches, pain and stress. Instead of promoting sobriety, these help groups should advocate for these known health benefits of marijuana. Doctors could be encouraged to recommend weed to their patients before immediately prescribing opioids. By replacing opioids with marijuana, this cycle of overdoses and addiction can be stopped.
College student at Arizona State University