Fordham Community Responds to the Opioid Epidemic

(Adriana Balsamo-Gallina/THE OBSERVER)

By S.J. Cyrus
Contributor

Many of us who come to Fordham have learned the locations in which our great University
occupies in the Bronx, Manhattan and Westchester are great places to receive education. This lessons for resident students and non-resident who relocated to New York City come as one person but the experience here in the city shapes you and you leave as another. New York City is the number one drug market in the United States and has always been. I recently attended an event at the Fordham Law School that address the current Opioid/Heroin epidemic which the nation faces. Some of the difference this time around is the epidemic is not limited to inner city users, this battle takes place in the suburban
and rural communities too. Illicitly manufactured synthetic opioid Fentanyl is one of the major reasons for the spikes in overdoses, it is 50-100 times stronger than Morphine and has got the attention of our law enforcement and public officials.

This is how close to home this hits: the Bronx leads New York City with 308 overdose death in 2016 which roughly accounts for about 26% of all deaths among New York City residents. The highest rate of those were ages 45-54 years old which amounted to (57.7 deaths per 100,000 residents). White Bronx residents possess the highest rate of overdoses fatalities at (49.5 per 100,000) followed by Hispanic at (28.5 per 100,000) and Black (24 per 100,000) residents. In the 60’s and 70’s the Bronx battled a severe heroin epidemic which slowed some in the 80’s and 90’s with the crack epidemic but now it has roared back and this time it is entirely different. A heroin epidemic is nothing new for the
city especially many areas in the Bronx that have survived, flourished and have various answers on how to not let history repeat itself.

One of the main factors about opioids is that they don’t have a bias against color, creed, age or class a user does not have a particular look. It is happening all around the United States and in some of the places you would least likely expects even right on and around our own campuses. According to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in 2013 the number of Unintentional Drug Poisoning Deaths was 788, last year 2016 that number has increased to 1374 and the number for 2017 don’t reflect a slowdown either. Fentanyl is normally prescribed to treat severe pain but as of late is mixed with the heroin on the street without user knowledge and the results have been a spike in deaths.
For some the topic of drugs is a hard conversation to take on but in order to save lives this
conversation must be discussed especially in the mist of this Opioid/Heroin epidemic. The Fordham community can play a huge part in prevention just through discussion and education alone; this spurs action in the community.

If anyone needs help with any substance abuse problem here at Fordham, we have resources on and off campus. These resources come in the form of education and services such as Alcohol & Other Drug Education (AODE), Counseling & Psychological Services (CPS), and Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). We don’t just fight this epidemic here in New York City but also back at home as well. Get involved in the conversation and the action; Naloxone is a safe medication that can reverse opioid overdose. It is sold at pharmacies without a prescription, single step nasal spray is one way to administer it. We have a few people on campus who are New York City Department of Health Registered Opioid Overdose Program participates like myself. Fordham has always been a key part of
community activism in every epidemic that the city has face and this opioid epidemic is no different.

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