Meet The Parents & Activists Fighting for This Life-Saving Program to Prevent Opioid Overdose Deaths

In 2018, 10.3 million people misused prescription opioids, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Of those, 47,600 died from an overdose which averages to more than 130 people dying from an opioid-related drug overdose every single day. The opioid crisis we’re facing today is one of the worst addiction epidemics in history.

By now you’re probably well-versed in the origin of this story: In 1996, Purdue Pharma began to manufacture OxyContin and then heavily marketed the drug to doctors as a chronic pain reliever for non-cancer patients. The drug became widely popular and by 2001 was the best-selling narcotic pain reliever in the country. However, Purdue Pharma misbranded the drug by convincing doctors that there was very little potential for misuse or addiction, and that is where the problems began. Due to the affordability, ease of access and addictive nature, OxyContin became a quick way for people to get high. But it didn’t stop there.

The painkiller was so addictive that patients found themselves turning to much harder drugs, like heroin, to get their fix after their prescriptions ran out. According to a report by the New York Times, 75 percent of heroin addicts used prescription opioids before turning to heroin.

While the epidemic has been broken down into statistics and numbers flashed on to computer and television screens, communities are being devastated by this.

Helen Jennens a Kelowna, Canada resident, lost her two sons from opioid-related overdoses in a span of five years. “They were just 18 months apart and were the best of friends. I can see them standing on the rocks at the side of the lake, talking and laughing while they fished,” she tells SheKnows. “That makes me smile.” Jennens is part of Moms Stop the Harm, an organization comprised of families advocating for drug policy change, prevention and awareness.

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