All kinds of communities feel the impact of the heroin and opioid epidemic. Whether you are a member of law enforcement, a leader of a faith community, a healthcare professional, or simply a concerned citizen, you may be wondering how you can help your community through heroin and opioid addiction awareness. This an important mission, as this epidemic currently effects everyone in some capacity, though many remain unaware of its staggering impact.
Statistics About Heroin and Opioid Use in the U.S.
- Though the U.S. only makes up five percent of the world population, we consume 80 percent of all prescription opioids.
- There were 259 million opioid prescriptions written in 2012, enough for every U.S. adult to have a bottle.
- More than 90 people die from a prescription opioid or heroin overdose daily.
Given a glimpse into the profundity of this problem, it’s up to community leaders like you to do what they can to address this issue. Fortunately, there is HOPE.
What Can I Do About the Heroin and Opioid Epidemic?
Open Your Doors
One of the most important parts of recovery is having a strong community behind you. People with heroin or opioid addiction often feel alone in their struggle and connecting with individuals who genuinely care about their wellbeing can make all the difference in the success of their recovery. You can help your community by opening your doors to them. If you are a representative of a community with this resource (such as a church or other faith group), you may literally open your doors by offering your space as a place where weekly recovery groups can meet. Alternatively, you can offer free transportation services to treatment to recovery support programs. If these aren’t options for you, advertising recovery and treatment in your community newsletters, websites, and social media platforms can be helpful for connecting people with the services they need.
Knowledge is power. One of the most impactful things you can do to help your community with heroin and opioid addiction is to raise awareness. You can partner with community health care professionals, law enforcement agencies, or other relevant experts to provide educational opportunities to the community. These can include efforts to teach about assessing risk of opioid abuse, how to support someone who is addicted to opioids, how to approach pain management, how to safely dispose of opioid prescriptions, and the psychology of addiction.
Support Individuals and Families
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), there are four areas of life that support recovery:
- Health: management of the addiction and other areas of health
- Home: stability and safety where they live
- Purpose: meaningful daily routines
- Community: supportive relationships that provide love and hope
Supporting these four dimensions can help individuals in recovery. Ways you might do this include providing support around employment, housing, transportation, clothing, food, or child care. You might also help by donating clothing and other necessities to local foster families. Whatever skills you have can be used to help individuals in your community with these four areas of life.
Focus on Prevention
Children who are exposed to mental illness, substance abuse, and neglect are more likely to suffer from substance use disorders. Therefore, starting early on implementing heroin and opioid addiction awareness puts future generations in a better position to fight this crisis. In your community, you can organize programs to help parents positively address these issues. Additionally, you can offer resources specifically designed for teenagers, such as links on your website or a support group for preventing opioid abuse.
The widespread impact of the heroin and opioid addiction epidemic can feel daunting, but with the support of communities like yours, we can make a difference. If you’re interested in learning more about heroin and opioid addiction or would like to donate to our cause, learn more at Give America HOPE.