As a kid, I can remember a classmate’s mom (a nurse) coming to my third grade class to talk about the effects of smoking tobacco. She showed the class a pair of healthy lungs and compared those to the lungs of a smoker. Pretty drastic difference, as one can imagine. We were shown pictures of celebrities smoking cigarettes’ to show us companies will try to make it look “cool”. They even said the classic line, “It’ll be your best friend who peer pressures you”. I am sure many of you have participated in a similar presentation. Did it work? Ehhh

While the attempt was noble, it was a bit dated or perhaps even sheltered. Where were the high school presentations on opioids and other hard drugs? Non-existent, which as someone who has lost multiple friends to overdoses, upsets me. Sure, we may have referenced and defined drugs in health class, but that is simply not enough. I am not saying it would have changed anything, but what if it did? What if we showed the younger generations the full life cycle of someone on drugs. We must show the unglamorous side of drugs, and highlight that it is not uncommon for addicts to suffer from mental illness.

The tried and true answer is no, it did not. Why? Because while yes, cigarettes are nasty, they have become a bit antiquated. They are not as “cool” as they once were. The evolution of technology has dated yet something else. What is popular now are e-cigarettes’ (ever heard of Juuling?) which are probably just as bad, if not worse. However, I am actually not here to talk about cigarettes.

Many addicts start out like you and me, just trying to get by and lessen the noise and evil in the world. However, when you get knocked down a few times and are unsure where to turn – drugs can feel like a viable option, but I promise you it is never worth it. It can help you escape from your feelings in the waking hours. To numb the pain from undiagnosed or untreated mental illness and unresolved issues, people turn to drugs. And man, that first time is supposed to be as euphoric as they come, but after that you are left chasing that same high for the rest of your life. Trust me, you have way too much to do in this life to go down that rabbit hole. This is not a healthy way to address those feelings or an undiagnosed mental illness.

If you haven’t watched Dopesick on Hulu, I highly recommend you add it to your queue. It explicitly spells out how Purdue Pharma relentlessly advertised Oxycontin knowing full well, it was highly addictive and fatal. They promised to reformulate – how do you think that went? Every year roughly 100,000 people die from opioid overdoses. That is disgusting, and there will never be an excuse for that. If Purdue Pharma and other companies related, took the addictive quality seriously, think of how many lives would have been spared. Purdue Pharmacy even knew there was a history of abuse with opioids, and they covered it up to sell and makes billions off of others pain and sadness. That is not humane, and they should be ashamed of themselves. Purdue Pharma and other companies alike – this is me calling you out – you owe these loved ones , a huge apology. It won’t make up for the loss, but it’s a start, not to mention the right thing to do. What is Purdue Pharma doing to help curb the opioid epidemic? Oh, that’s right, continuing to produce and push opioids. Pathetic.

To our friends who left us too soon, I am so sorry. I am sorry that you were lied to by a company like Purdue Pharma, or felt you needed to seek solace from drugs. I wish I would have let you know, and made you feel like you could come to me without judgement. I’m sorry life was so hard on you that you felt you had no other option. I’m sorry, I miss you, and you will never be forgotten. If you or someone you know, is struggling with addiction to opioids please, visit this resource for immediate help. You are not alone, and we do not judge; we just want to help you see there are other ways to handle your mental health. We see you, and we are here for you. Remember, it is the smartest person in the room who asks for help.