Drug addiction needs open discussion
Overdose is a preventable cause of death that should be addressed
An overdose vigil was held on the steps of Brower Commons Tuesday night in honor and remembrance of those who have died due to drug overdoses. It’s a topic seldom talked about. In the past 15 months, two Rutgers students died of overdoses, but we didn’t hear nearly as much about them as we did with the more recent deaths of Caityln Kovacs and Darsh Patel just this semester.
Prescription drug overdose is the third leading cause of accidental death in the country, but not enough is being done to address it. This is partly because of a lack of education on the issue, and partly because of the stigma surrounding addiction. It’s very difficult to break that stigma and look at addiction the same way we do any other disease. Whatever your personal or moral opinion is about that, it is definitely important for addiction to be seen as a disease and treated as one from an administrative and a political standpoint. Federal and state laws need to be in place to support the recovery of those suffering from a drug addiction and ensure that they can receive the necessary treatment for it.
Rutgers University has several programs dedicated to helping with the recovery process. The Health Outreach, Promotion and Education program does a lot of work to educate the student body about alcohol and drug use. It regularly holds programs, informational sessions and pushes for the general education of all students on alcohol and drug awareness. One of the most important of these awareness campaigns is its statistics about the reality of drug and alcohol use at Rutgers that it collects through regular surveys of the student body. For example, according to its website, 72 percent of Rutgers students have never smoked cigarettes or marijuana. Two-thirds of Rutgers students who drink stop after they’ve had three drinks or less. These types of statistics are important for students to hear because a lot of the time, drug abuse begins because they believe that everyone else is doing it — and if they’re all fine, then what’s the harm in trying it out, too?
The Overdose Prevention Act is also in place in New Jersey to encourage people to report instances of drug abuse without worrying about the possible legal ramifications. When it comes to the life-or-death situations that occur in the instance of a drug overdose, the immediate response should be to alert authorities and get the person to a hospital. At that point, it’s not worth worrying about possible legal issues.
It’s not an easy task, but breaking the stigma surrounding addiction is an important step we need to take to address the issue and save lives. This isn’t to condone addiction in any way, but not every case of addiction is the same. Some are driven to abuse drugs through peer pressure, and others might be battling serious mental illnesses that make it almost impossible to see an alternative to drug use. In either case, there’s absolutely no room for any judgment. Drug abuse is a leading cause of preventable death in this country, and we should be working hard to address it just as seriously as we address motor vehicle safety.