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U.S. Surgeon General breaks down the stigma of opioid use at Purdue

The opioid epidemic is something talked about on a daily basis, but with a reason

Posted: Nov 18, 2019 11:41 PM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) -- The opioid epidemic is something talked about on a daily basis, but with a reason.

One hundred and thirty Americans die every day from opioid use.

The U.S. Surgeon General is trying to change that. Dr. Jerome Adams spoke to roughly 400 people Monday at Purdue about "Hope Stems."

He said everyone is to blame for the stigma.

Adams and Purdue pharmacy students said it has to change.

"I think stigma is the biggest killer," said Adams.

Purdue pharmacy students think the same thing.

"Right off the bat there is a stigma about it," said Purdue pharmacy student Erin O'Laughlin

"We have learned there is a stigma associated with the opioid epidemic," said Purdue pharmacy student David Bergsman.

"Opioid addiction is a disease and judging people for it isn't really the way to help combat that," said O'Laughlin.

The U.S. Surgeon General's talk echoes that; the road to recovery without judgment.

"That's not fun," said Adams.

It needs to come with praise, with facts and with knowledge.

"Whether it's the opioid epidemic or obesity, smoking or measles we have to help folks understand when we don't pay attention the health and wellness of our communities we all pay the price," said Adams.

The price can be death or addiction.

Adams said 2.1 million American people have an opioid use disorder, but thanks to the revival drug Naloxone thousands are saved.

"Take your Naloxone, put it in your nostril and press," said Adams. "It's literally that easy to save a life. Easier than your CPR Course." 

The U.S. Surgeon General said people are more likely to respond to an opioid overdose than to administer CPR all around the country.

Monday at Hiler Theatre at Purdue's campus more than half the people knew CPR and only about 30 carried Naloxone on them.

"That doesn't surprise me at all because I think CPR is a wide spread training that a lot of people learn from their jobs, but Naloxone training hasn't been taught as much because opioids haven't been a problem in the past," said Bergsman.

They are a problem in Indiana.

"Indiana really has been the epicenter for the opioid epidemic discussion across this country," said Adams.

The discussion will continue at Purdue University with "Hope Stems."

It's a large sculpture, a brain flower, made out out carnations and poppies. The poppies represent the opioids damage to the brain.

You take out a poppy, you help heal the brain.

There is another Hope Stems Brain Flower in Herald Square in New York City.

If you, a loved one or a friend needs help contact the Tippecanoe County Health Department, Home with Hope or Valley Oaks.

Tippecanoe County Health Department: 765-423-9221

Home with Hope: 765-807-0009

Valley Oaks: 765-807-0009

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