Today I went to a funeral.
It was hard and ugly and there are no wonderful encouraging words. Overdose is real and people think it will never be them.
I don’t even know how to process it all, to be honest. Anger, grief, regret, all of it. It’s final and there are no more second chances.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse at Drugabuse.gov has stated that in 2017 the number of deaths due to overdose was at an all-time high of 70,237. Awaiting numbers for 2018 from the CDC as of now, but a recent report from NBC News, written by Erika Edwards on June 12, 2019, states that in West Virginia alone the death by overdose rates rose by 450% from 2005 to 2017. 450%!! What death rate rises by that amount?
The United States has always had a wonderful life expectancy rate on the world scene. In fact, I remember as a little girl, being raised by parents from the WWII era, hearing about how strong the U.S. is and how we have one of the best life expectancy rates in the world. Not so much the case anymore. It seems we are not even in the top 10 or 20 and what’s more, our rates are dropping with every year. Our drug overdose epidemic has actually contributed to lowering our overall life expectancy for three years in a row, according to a Smithsonian.com article written by Meilan Solly on December 3, 2018. Let that sink in a bit, it’s shocking, right?
The year 2017 provided us with over 70,000 overdose deaths and it has taken a toll on our “wonderful” statistics. 70,000 + people taken too soon, 70,000+ families torn apart. Kid’s burying their parents, parent’s burying their kids.
Our once ‘amazing’ nation with high life expectancy rates are now dropping each year and our drug epidemic is playing a huge part.
As the mother of an addict, I don’t have to even tell you how terrifying this is, how overwhelming, how hard it is to walk into a funeral home and see their family and think “This could be me.” I asked my son, who has been in a few rehabs by now, how many friends of his have died from an overdose. His response “I don’t really want to think about them all, mom, but I think around 10.”
I didn’t mean to stir up pain for him, to remind him, I was simply curious. But that is an awful statistic, isn’t it?
We have to do better, America. We have to. We have to break down the stigma, understand that this crosses all socioeconomic boundaries. That this rips families apart and traumatizes loved ones. This isn’t about people that are waste, or low lives, or even “druggies.” This is about real people, loved by their families, destroying their lives and on the brink of death. It’s about funeral homes hosting the most depressing of all funerals. It’s about indescribable pain.