Pubdate: Thu, 31 Mar 2016
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2016 The New York Times Company
Author: Judith Sharlin


To the Editor:

Re "Obama Takes Crusade Against Opioids on Road" (news article, March 
30): While I was heartened to see that, finally, the administration 
is stepping up to face the dire epidemic of drug overdose deaths in 
America, I cannot help but wonder why it took so long.

My 22-year-old son is part of the grim 2014 statistic: 28,648 drug 
deaths from opioids. He died from an accidental heroin overdose in 
September 2014. His story echoes a familiar tale of the progression 
from easily accessible prescription painkillers to heroin. And, like 
many others, he was a sweet, handsome and intelligent young man whose 
life, dreams and soul were ripped away by the disease of addiction. 
He was also part of a treatment process that criminalized him - in 
and out of treatment programs, finally receiving medication for his 
addiction but unsupervised.

Addiction is a disease and needs to be treated like any other public 
health problem reaching epidemic proportions. I keep staring at the 
2014 opioid death map accompanying your article and focusing on the 
red mass in the state where my son and many others died.

I wonder: Why has it taken the opioid overdose death toll to surpass 
that of traffic accidents in order to be, in Mr. Obama's words, 
"right at the top of our radar screen"?


Highland Beach, Fla.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom