Whether you were aware of it or not, the state of Maryland recently declared a state of emergency over an opioid crisis. Maryland’s growing problems include overdose linked to the use of heroin and fentanyl, two highly addictive and lethal culprits. So far this year, over fourteen hundred Maryland residents have fallen victim to opioid overdoses. This number is up more than sixty-two percent from 2016.
The intention of declaring a state of emergency for any state is to shuffle in money to the state in order to alleviate a problem. For the most part, states of emergency have been declared in response to natural disasters or freak weather occurrences. Now the time has come to respond to the growing opioid epidemic, not only with assertion of the epidemic, but also action against it in the form of government-declared states of emergency.
So what does the recent state of emergency enacted by Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland show the rest of the country about the opioid epidemic and rising addiction in the United States?
For starters, this growing epidemic is also slowly evolving into an endemic problem. Here the problem lies not only with the people currently addicted but also the lives of those, especially the young and the unborn, that are greatly impacted by opioid use. The research on ‘heroin-babies’ and drug-addicted infants paints a clear picture of the lasting second-hand impact of opioid abuse.
But even aside from parents who abuse drugs while having children, there is also an aspect to drug use that has proliferated and added to the issue: the use of certain drugs as ‘recreation.’
This article is not intended to try to change minds on the legality or illegitimacy of recreational marijuana. The bottom line, across the board, is that the legalization and distribution of marijuana at a recreational level is not aiding in subsiding the opioid epidemic.
This makes sense if we consider the fact that marijuana has long been identified, even before its legalization in certain parts of the country, as a ‘gateway drug’ that can essentially lead a user to crave a better and longer lasting high through more addictive and lethal drugs like opiates.
In certain parts of the country, aside from the legalization of marijuana, another culprit is prescription painkillers. It has long been asserted that in the twenty-first century, the opioid epidemic has gone from being ‘street’ in nature to an elevated ‘high-street’ level.
Rather than users of opioids being stereotyped into the homeless and the poor, users are now often wealthier and are simultaneously using prescription opioids as a means to get the high they crave. Such a lethal combination, prestige and pleasure, can only stem from a problem that has long been plaguing this nation.