For decades, television has automatically plastered us with news updates about the latest drug bust. We still routinely view scandals and yet another mugshot. As television, social media, and the ability to have nearly anything and everything at our fingertips progresses, we also gain the ability to share helpful information about the current version of this disturbance across America—substance abuse.
I grew up in rural West Virginia. If you haven’t heard of our drug-umentaries, you should check them out. They are eye-opening. During my teenage and young adult years, substance abuse was on the rise in my area too. When I was in public school, it would be no big deal to see my peers drinking as barely teenagers (at high school football games, no less) or trying each other’s pills. At the time, it was called “partying.” My grown self would now like to correct my former self. What I was witnessing was “substance abuse,” and it was just the beginning of a very long and difficult journey in my community. Flash forward 10 years, in my home state of West Virginia, there is a hospital where one of every five babies spends its first days in agony. These helpless children were exposed to opioids or other drugs in the womb.
Trust for America (healthyamericans.org) released a report in 2013 of information gathered from 1999 to 2010 about all 50 states and statistics related to prescription drug abuse. Topping the list was wild and wonderful West Virginia, with 28.9 deaths by overdose per 100,000. From the low 4.1 to 100,000 ratio found in 1999, this new statistic shows a 605% increase between those 11 years. In addition to this, North Dakota ranked lowest at 3.4 per 100,000 in 2010.