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Open-heart for Opioid Awareness

The countdown has entered single-digits.

The room filled with warm conversations about the weekend but started to pour over with excitement as we flagged a few more employees. We brought our attention towards the last few beats.

 

3, 2, 1… my pleasantly nuked meal was synched with a new game of HQ Trivia.  It was often my special ingredient to any lunch. I personally appreciated the game and its creators for more reasons than one.  It was more than just the entertainment of winning a quick buck, even though I’ve never won. It could be seen as a cross-departmental collaboration and team-building tool to quickly formulate a strategy.  Last year, as a self-conscious new hire, I saw it as an amazing ice-breaking game to grab lunch and share knowledge… not just as a company, but as a family.

Lunch has a new ring

Playing the game at noon meant we were competing against ~700,000 users live-streaming video content per game.  

As a web developer, the thought of creating a scalable, viral app in itself seemed like the ultimate reward. But we all know that success brings problems. For an app to successfully exist, one would need funding and/or to monetize on the opportunity, conquer the market share, thrive for a better user experience, maintain a high position in the app store. The level of stress that goes through a creators mind must be unbearable, and that’s just regarding the work life. Unfortunately, it’s been recently discovered that the co-founder of HQ Trivia, Colin Kroll, has passed away with suspicion of a drug overdose.  

Mixed reports mentioned that they uncovered heroin and at least one other drug in his apartment. Whether or not Kroll had consumed those drugs and why is questionable.  

However, it still brings another issue: the opioid crisis is still here.

The latest opioid statistics

  • 67,616 deaths related to drug overdose in the United States from May 2017 - May 2018

  • 49,000 deaths related to opioid-related overdose (68%)

  • 15,000 deaths related to drug overdose involve heroin or cocaine

  • NY opioid related overdoses declined by 8.9%, while NYC has remained steady the past couple of years

What shocked me is that overdoses involving heroin are only a third of the deaths pertaining to opioids. Illegal or prescribed, it shows that even an educated techie can have a level of misjudgement that falls into addiction or an overdose.  

I’m not here to bash anyone about being an abuser, there’s plenty of heartless comments left on news sites relating to his death. I’m here because we need to shine more light on the subject.

How can people help?

It’s hard to know where to start when you want to help, but there’s so many ways we can assist others. I’d like to keep an open mind to any type of addiction. Whether casually experimenting with recreational drugs lead someone down the path to a higher addiction or their medication for pain management reached its last refill, we need to be available to provide assistance.  The addiction can stem from tolerance, dependence or any other means of escaping reality.

Education

We need to drill-down information for prescribed and illegal drugs earlier on in our lives.  My earliest recollection about staying away from drugs came from my parents. I still remember watching TV with my dad as the topic of heroin surfaced on the news.  He described how heroin was highly addictive and what it could do to your body <when I was only in elementary school?>. Looking at the statistics, I know this is not enough.  

We need more discussions on the addictive properties that even prescribed drugs offer.

Even as adults, we need to learn that just because we have something, it doesn’t mean we should use it.  When I had my wisdom teeth pulled, I could have taken my painkillers but I avoided it at all costs and roughed it out for the next couple of weeks.  I would rather sit through a weeks worth of pain than to risk an addiction.

Predetermined road map

If you’re going to take pain killers or experiment with a drug, at least give yourself some sort of timeline. It might not sound practical, but you should set an amount and time prior to taking any of it. Addiction alters your brain circuitry so it would be wise to define some type of map before you hit any stage of denial.

Open discussions

I might be naive, but I don’t know anyone with an addiction to an opioid.  Could it be that they don’t want anyone to know? Maybe they think everyone’s too judgmental.  Perhaps I haven’t been reaching out hard enough to help. I think it would be safe to offer our ears to our friends and our community rather than shame them.  I want to know about your plans on taking drugs, I want to be there if you are taking it too often, I want to help if you take too much...

Resources

If you think you or someone you know has developed an opioid addiction, please try to guide them in the right direction.  There’s plenty of information online and local facilities to visit.  

Check to see what resources your insurance can provide you.  I know at PointCare, we are constantly improving our software to help qualify/enroll patients for coverage.  This is one of the many issues that keeps me working hard as a developer. If you like helping others, check with us to see if we have a career for you.

Anyone can fall into the trap of addiction but it’s up to our community to stay connected like a family and help.  I hope you have an open-heart this season and wish you Happy New Year.

 

References:

1. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/16/nyregion/hq-trivia-overdose-colin-kroll.html

2. https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids/opioid-overdose-crisis

3. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/drug-overdose-data.htm

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