Falcon Flyer Fall 2018 - Page 16

You have probably heard about the opioid crisis somewhere, whether it be on the news or in conversation. I thought I knew what it was about, but in reality, I didn’t.

DrugFreeNJ is a non-profit organization built on the stance that by educating the population about the dangers of opioid drugs, overdoses will decrease. This organization has been around for quite a while and typically holds seminars for teachers and parents. They have now realized that they also need to educate teenagers as the people who are most likely to die from opioid-related causes are usually between the ages of 17 and 23. So, DrugFreeNJ has decided to target local high school football games with the rationale that these are the places where members of all ages of the community come together consistently.

On October 6, 2018, Pam, a representative from DrugFreeNJ, and the school’s NJSIAA student representative attended the high school football game to educate the Saddle Brook community about the dangers of opioids. They distributed bracelets to the fans and placed pamphlets on every door of the high school classrooms which provided information about the opioid crisis. Additionally, the football players wore special stickers on their helmets to call attention to this topic.

Before this event and before meeting Pam and learning about opioid drug use, I knew opioids were drugs that helped relieve pain, but I had no idea how they worked. Opioids do not actually help the area in which the pain is being inflicted, but instead they target the brain so the nervous system can’t actually complete the signal to tell the brain a part of the body hurts. In addition, they release endorphins, your body’s “feel-good” chemical. When your body is experiencing endorphin rejuvenation with no work being done besides taking a pill, the reward seems much greater. This will lead to a greater dependence on these pills and an increased

risk of addiction. The brain is the easiest organ to trick, and once this happens, the effects can be deadly.

Opioids are the most frequently prescribed drug by big pharmaceutical companies because they very expensive to fill and increase companies’ profits. However, after patients get addicted, many can only afford to continue buying these pills for a short while due to their high costs. Consequently, many opioid users turn to using heroin instead because it is a cheaper alternative to opioids. The downside is that heroin is also much less safe to use. It is not only illegal, but there are also no regulations on heroin. There is always the risk of something being mixed into the drug, and if an addict gets a bad batch, the consequences can be deadly.

Pam shared with me the story of her personal experience with opioids. Her son’s teammate used opioids for pain relief from a torn ACL injury. His ACL healed fast, but his brain was damaged for the rest of his life. On a hunt for heroin to feed his addiction, he received a batch with fentanyl mixed into it, and his life ended just like that. His death was extremely hard for Pam’s son and his fellow teammates to cope with which inspired her to help them and fight back against the drug use by educating as many people as possible.

This cause may at first seem far-fetched, but you are incredibly likely to be prescribed an opioid at some point in your life, and if you don’t know the risks, you may be placed in a dangerous spot. This year, Saddle Brook High School will be making sure every student is educated about the danger of opioids. You will always see me with my red opioid - awareness bracelet, nails, sticker, or pamphlet. I always have the facts, and hope that soon you will too. Often, the smallest things which may seem insignificant are the things that are going to save our lives.

My Time With DrugFreeNJ: Why Opiods Are Truly a Crisis

By: Bianca Ianiello, '20