Monday, August 01, 2016

Growing number of parents using obits of their addicted children to highlight dangers of drug use

Obituary details Ryan Hawe's battles with addiction
A rising number of grieving parents are exposing their deceased children's addiction in obituaries in an effort to draw attention to the opioid epidemic and help others, Alexandra Rockey Fleming reports for The Washington Post.

In "swapping openness for ambiguity in death notices—'died after a long struggle with addiction' replaces 'died suddenly at home'—they are challenging the stigma and shame often bound up in substance abuse. Maybe more important, they’re sounding alarms about the far-reaching grasp of addiction."

President Obama in February proposed spending $1.1 billion in new funding to address opioid and heroin abuse. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in March proposed limits on painkiller prescriptions. Drug overdose deaths, which are growing problems in rural areas, have been especially high in Central Appalachia.

"The spike in opioid addiction rates in the past two decades is rooted in the over-prescription of pain medication such as Oxycontin, says Andrew Kolodny, a psychiatrist and senior scientist at Brandeis University," Fleming writes. "The medical and recreational use of these drugs derived from opium—and their illegal and vastly more affordable sister, heroin—is affecting the families of police officers and lawyers and politicians, he says, 'and you’re seeing a very different response that says that this is a disease, not a moral failing, from families who want to spare others the pain.'"

CDC reported that deaths related to opioids hit record levels in 2014, "mushrooming by 14 percent in just one year," Fleming writes. "There were 10,574 heroin-related fatalities nationwide in 2014—an increase caused in part by the influx of a deadly elixir of heroin and fentanyl, a potent analgesic." (Read more)

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