America readers across the U.S. tell us how the opioid crisis is affecting them

In 2016 more than 900 people in British Columbia died of illicit drug overdoses.(CNS illustration/Michael Swan, Catholic Register)

In response to the above question, almost all respondents (85 percent) told America that they had heard about the opioid crisis. Some readers told us that their community seemed unaffected; others suspected their communities were affected in ways that they were unaware of. Many readers, however, especially those in the Midwest, described how opioid addiction had damaged their relationships and communities in countless ways. One reader from Cincinnati wrote that the opioid crisis “is straining emergency medical services, police [and] foster care, and treatment centers are bursting at the seams. Many lives have been lost…. Unfortunately, some in our community have lost their compassion for those suffering from addiction.”

I’m afraid the community may become immune to helping these people. There is always talk of not administering the drugs that will bring these addicts who overdose back to life.

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This struggle for compassion in the context of opioid addiction was a continuing theme among readers’ answers. Another reader from Ohio told America: “I’m afraid the community may become immune to helping these people. There is always talk of not administering the drugs that will bring these addicts who overdose back to life.”

While few shared their own experiences of addiction, many more readers spoke of how the opioid crisis had affected people close to them: siblings, children and friends. A reader from Nashville, whose son suffered from drug addiction and whose community is experiencing widespread opioid addiction, called for people to stop shaming addicts. “Welcome recovering people to church. Addiction—however it begins—is a disease, not a moral issue. Shaming people makes the struggle to get well even harder.”

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