Photo courtesy of Overlooked and Overdosed / Facebook

"Overlooked and Overdosed” Continues Fight Against Boston’s Opioid Crisis

During the early days of November, the student organization Overlooked and Overdosed held its first event of the year. The “Stories of Recovery Road” exhibit was held in the Murray Function Room and featured a photo gallery and quotes from individuals with current or past drug challenges. The goal of the exhibit was to destigmatize addiction in and around the Boston area. This was achieved through the presentation of stories and experiences from those personally affected by the opioid epidemic in Boston, as well as those fighting the crisis in their professional career.

The opioid crisis is not limited to the greater Boston region. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there are between 26.4 million and 36 million people worldwide that abuse opioids, with an estimated 2.1 million people in the United States alone. Opioids that are widely abused include heroin, morphine, and prescription pain relievers that can affect physical health, social status, and societal economic welfare. The National Center for Injury Prevention and Control estimated that in 2015, opioids took the lives of more than 33,000 individuals. That amounts to more than 90 deaths per day from opioids.

As the use of OxyContin and other opioids grows to skyrocketing levels, the students that comprise Overlooked and Overdosed have made it their goal to combat the opioid crisis in Boston. Their second event of the year, "A Nation in Recovery: The Opioid Crisis Under the Trump Administration," will be held in the Rat on Tuesday, April 4 at 7 p.m. The event is sponsored by the Center for Human Rights and International Justice, the Winston Center for Leadership and Ethics, and other on-campus organizations. The event will feature a panel of Boston-based professionals discussing the future of America's opioid crisis. Photos and quotes from the organization's first event will also be on display.

The event held earlier in the year featured moving accounts from those personally affected by the opioid crisis. One member of the student organization, Ellie Warner-Rousseau, MCAS '19, has helped to focus the second event on the future of opioids under the Trump administration.

“We want to dive in and talk with experts about what kinds of policies [are effective] and what kinds of policies have disastrous effects,” Warner-Rousseau noted. “History has taught us a lot about which solutions ameliorate the problem and which solutions further marginalize the people we claim to help.”

The opioid problem is complex in nature and requires the consideration of multiple perspectives, including medicinal, public policy, and law enforcement. This panel will have individuals from all of these disciplines, as well as people who are both directly and indirectly affected.

The opioid crisis impacts more families than many realize. Warner-Rousseau explained that, “One of our goals is to talk about opioid use in a way that doesn't marginalize or shame those who are affected.” The stigma attached to drug addiction, and specifically the opioid catastrophe, is one that needs to be broken. Instead of receiving criticism, those suffering should be supported and comforted by their community.

The Overlooked and Overdosed event on April 4 will recognize substance abuse as a medical disease, and will encourage the Boston College community to come together in the fight against the ongoing opioid crisis.

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