Effects on Communities

Communities are being impacted everyday by the horrors of addiction

Not only does addiction have a severe impact on an individual, it has a devastating impact on the entire community. Created by: Moira Prior

Addiction in the community

Substance abuse disorder is a serious public health issue that affects an entire community.

Not only does drug addiction affect the individual who is abusing a substance, it affects everyone around them.  

The issue has a huge impact on families, schools, the workplace and first responders.

Addiction does not discriminate. It is tearing families apart and taking the lives of many.

Holly Robbins, a mother of an addict, has experienced insurmountable grief with the loss of her son.

“It completely changes the entire family. My family will never be the same,” Robbins said. “Holidays and birthdays are just a sad reminder of what is missing.”

Younger generations are losing close friends and family members, making it more challenging to grow up when experiencing these kinds of loss.

“My Granddaughter has to grow up without a father now,” Robbins said.

The change with the structure of a family also affects the school community. It may be more challenging for kids to go to school and learn while trying to understand the loss of someone to addiction.

First responders are greatly impacted as well because of the time spent trying to save people from overdoses instead of the time spent responding to other calls.

Lisa D., a paramedic, has used Narcan to save lives multiple times. She goes on overdose calls and uses Narcan more often than anyone should.

“There are so many types of different situations. It does not matter whether or not you live in the most expensive house or you’re a homeless person,” Lisa D. said. “It does not matter what pay scale you are at there is some type of addiction somewhere.”

With people dying every day to the disease of addiction. The war this disease has waged on communities for countless years is grower stronger and more intense everyday. It’s time for communities to come together in this fight against a disease that won’t let go of its victims.

Written by: Moira Prior

Effects on EMTs

Watching countless young people overdose, and sometimes not being able to save them, puts a lot of emotional and physical stress on medical providers. Created by: Allie Stein

“I have used Narcan multiple times, more than I think anyone should ever use it,” Lisa D., a paramedic, said. “But that’s my job.”

As of 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that 105 people in the United States die every day from drug overdoses.  

This intense amount of people is causing medical providers to be declaring far too many people dead.  As upsetting and traumatizing as this is for the family and friends of the deceased person, there is also a high level of emotional stress that falls upon the medical providers who worked to save the person and reverse their overdose.  

“Too many rescuers are seeing too many dying or dead young people in their age group or maybe even younger,” Officer James McCans, the Director of Emergency Medical Services for Haverford Township, said. “And that’s very taxing.”  

With numbers only increasing, medical providers are seeing more and more overdoses throughout their everyday work.

“We could do three to five overdoses in a shift, and that’s just heroin overdoses,” Kelsey Crosdale, an EMT, said.  “That’s not anybody else that calls 911.”

“We’re over 300 reversals in 2 years, which is about one every other day by police,” McCans said.

Emergency departments and medical staff also feel the intense stress of working to reverse and save people who have overdosed.  

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, over 1,000 people are treated in emergency departments for misusing prescription opioids every day.

A study done by The National Library of Medicine found that hospitals and emergency rooms are extremely stressful places due to the increased complexity and demands, the unpredictable changes in daily work routine, unrealistic expectations from patients and families, and common encounters with end of life issues.  Psychological symptoms including post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression were also found to be common among nurses.  

Due to the fact that overdoses bring about a sense of urgency, medical providers are often either called to a scene or the individual is rushed to an emergency room.  This puts an extra level of stress on critical care and emergency providers.

The National Library of Medicine found that 25 percent of critical care nurses and 33 percent of emergency nurses suffer PTSD symptoms. The study also showed a prevalence rate of 20–22 percent for PTSD among paramedic personnel.

Overdoses clearly go much further than just the person who has overdosed and their loved ones.  If the person working to save their life is not able to succeed, they will most likely feel the repercussions of that.  

“It may be a delayed stress response but I think it’s taking a tremendous toll on the EMS system and probably the emergency room system as well,” McCans said. “I don’t think even the mental health system is ready for the tsunami of overdoses.”

Written by: Allie Stein

Effects on College Campuses

The impact the loss of a college student had on a team, an athletic department and a college campus.  Created by: Allie Stein

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, young adults ages 18 to 25 are the biggest abusers of prescription opioid pain relievers, ADHD stimulants and anti-anxiety drugs.

Young adults ages 18 to 25 are also the age of many college students.

There are many reasons college age students abuse drugs.  Some may want to fit in with friends, study better or have more fun at a party.

Or, they may just simply want to get high.

No matter the reason, prescription drug abuse is extremely dangerous. The National Institute on Drug Abuse also found that in 2014, more than 1,700 young adults ages 18 to 25 died from prescription drug, mainly opioid, overdoses.  This number was higher than death numbers for any other drug, including heroin and cocaine combined.

Additionally, the nonmedical use of prescription drugs was found to be highest among young adults, with 12 percent of 18-25 year olds using prescription drugs non-medically over the course of 2014.  

With staggering numbers like these only rising, college campuses across the country are being forced to address this issue in various ways.

According to the Washington Post, both The Clinton Foundation and Adapt Pharma are working to give colleges 40,000 doses of Narcan nasal spray, which is the only FDA-approved nasal spray.  Narcan is a potentially lifesaving reversal drug that is designed to be simple enough for people without adequate medical training to administer.

Thom Duddy, the Executive Director of Communications and Public relations for Adapt Pharma, says colleges and universities are now the second largest group expressing an extreme need for Narcan.

“Not only from a law enforcement perspective but they want each of their dorms to have it available and in public spots,” Duddy said.

There is also a nationwide focus ensuring student-athletes, across all divisions, are not abusing substances.  

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and its member schools share the responsibility of both testing and educating student-athletes to prevent drug usage.

More than $6 million dollars is spent annually on drug testing and education in an effort to deter substance abuse among student-athletes.  

Drug testing is conducted at championships, as well as year-round on campus in Division I and II programs. Additionally, many institutions conduct their own institutional testing programs independent of NCAA drug testing. These testings are implemented in order to combat drug addiction in student athletes nationwide.

Written By: Allie Stein