With minor social injustices like “Baby it’s Cold Outside” and the joke that is the border wall, young people are becoming distracted from issues that actually matter. Though the same could be said about the general American public, millennial’s and Gen Z’s in particular are more likely to avoid significant news, simply out of lack of interest. Once again, though this is a strong generalization, it is based in some truth. Being part of Gen Z, it’s becoming clear to me that, if you are not following the news, you are left to getting information from your Instagram feed and whatever scraps of news school teachers will care to give out.
Wrapped up in border wall and Trump Twitter mania, young people will almost entirely overlook something that is killing Americans- the opioid epidemic. Opioids, also known as the narcotics, refer to usually legal painkillers prescribed by doctors that are distributed by pharmacists. These are typically given after surgeries or injuries, because regular over-the-counter painkillers may not be strong enough. Narcotics can quickly become addictive, if the patient is not cautious. When addicted patients run out of their prescription, they often begin to seek out ways to obtain illegal narcotics, such as Heroin. The abuse of both illegal and prescribed opioids has led to a deadly crisis that has swept the nation. For example, in Maryland, 1,185 people died of opioid related overdoses, in the just first half of 2018.
This epidemic is not just killing older adults. In fact, it’s killing more children and teens than ever. According to a new study conducted by the JAMA Network, the number of opioid deaths has tripled in the past 20 years. Most of the deaths have been males, and 15 through 19 year-olds accounted for 88% of overall pediatric deaths. 81% of these deaths were accidental.
As this is impacting people of all ages, there needs to be a stronger push for change regarding how people use opioids. Activism for serious issues like this has proven to be no challenge for young adults, as was clear with the amount of passion that was shown regarding gun control after the Parkland shooting. It is time for the same strength that was shown following Parkland to be brought out for the opioid epidemic. In the end, the biggest issues will never just be solved by a repost or comment on social media, but a collective push for change.