A Rising Tide: What We Can Do to Bring Drug Overdose Deaths Down

We need to find a way to reduce the crippling drug problem that is overwhelming our country. Since the turn of the century, the number of Americans addicted to drugs and alcohol has more than tripled, more than half a million have lost their lives from this issue, and hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent on the problem every year in an effort to curb it. This started as a problem, became a crisis, evolved into an epidemic, and is now a “National Public Health Emergency.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention keeps close tabs on the drug problem, reporting to us just how out of hand this issue has become. According to CDC researchers, 2016 was our worst year yet for overdose deaths, a year where more than sixty-three thousand Americans fell prey to a crippling, lethal overdose. 2017 numbers have not yet been fully tabulated, and we are needless to say apprehensive about what those numbers will look like.

What can we do about the overdose epidemic? Surely this is a crippling problem, but is there any way we can overcome it?

Strategies for Reducing Drug Overdoses

As soon as we transfer all responsibility and obligation on resolving an issue to the government, we make ourselves the victims, the poor little civilians that can do nothing about the problem. We’ve done this several times throughout history, and it's never ended well. The government is there for very specific reasons, but they are not there to solve all of our problems for us.

Students on drug awareness block.

Here are a few strategies that we need to implement so we can take charge of this problem:

  • Raising awareness of drug crisis. In our communities, schools, churches, groups, and families, people need to know what exactly is involved with drug abuse, and why there is so much attendant risk when people abuse drugs and alcohol. This is especially true for adolescents, teens, and young adults. Such individuals need to know that drugs and alcohol are highly harmful and dangerous. Young people let themselves get peer pressured into abusing drugs and alcohol because they do not know the sheer risk and threat to their lives that come attendant with drug use.
  • Preventing drug abuse. Prevention strategies come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. In fact, the above approach, raising awareness, is itself a form of prevention. However, just raising awareness of the problem is not enough. We also need to train and organize law enforcement offices and community watches to stop drugs from coming into a community in the first place.
  • Rehabilitating drug abusers and alcoholics. Those who are already hooked on drugs and alcohol are the ones responsible for “keeping the problem going” in the communities in which they live. Drug addicts and alcoholics are the ones who create a regular and consistent, daily demand for substances, hence why substances are brought into a community. When these individuals are rehabilitated through inpatient drug and alcohol rehabs, we make real progress in reducing the local drug problem.

Creating a community that is completely free from drug and alcohol problems is not easy, it takes time, and a very active effort to find programs that actually work and provide real results. We need to take action, however, or the drug problem will only continue to grow.

This problem is within our power to reduce, but it will not reduce unless we all get behind an effort to reduce it.




After working in addiction treatment for several years, Ren now travels the country, studying drug trends and writing about addiction in our society. Ren is focused on using his skill as an author and counselor to promote recovery and effective solutions to the drug crisis. Connect with Ren on LinkedIn.