We don’t have time to wait

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From the HHS.gov website

Apr 22, 2015

By: Michael Botticelli, Director, Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, CDC Director

This is a picture of Taylor Smith from Holly Springs, Georgia, with her sister, Gabrielle.

smithsisters

Taylor died of an overdose.

Her mother, Tanya Smith, writes: 

"Taylor was a freshman, junior varsity and varsity squad basketball and football cheerleader at Creekview High School; known for her quick wit and infectious squeaky laugh, she was an avid animal rescuer, and quickly came to the defense of those she felt were treated unfairly. She was 20 years old when she overdosed in the company of friends, who subsequently dumped her body in the yard of an abandoned trailer to avoid arrest for drug possession.”

Taylor might still be alive if her friends had known that Georgia, along with 21 other states and the District of Columbia, has legal protections in place that shield people possessing drugs from criminal liability if they’re helping someone having an overdose. 

Her mother Tanya has channeled her grief into action, pushing to make sure that law enforcement officers in her town now carry naloxone — the antidote for opioid overdose. 

America is in the midst of an epidemic. In 2010, drug poisoning deaths surpassed traffic crashes as the most lethal cause of preventable injury and the number of deaths continues to climb. In recent years, health care providers have written 259 million prescriptions for painkillers — enough to give every American adult his or her own bottle of pills. That enormous quantity of pills translates into an enormous opportunity for misuse. In fact, most people who begin misusing prescription drugs get them from family or friends — and within five years, some move from misusing prescription opioids to using heroin.

We must act now. We have already lost too many daughters, sons, mothers, fathers, friends, and neighbors. Earlier this month, leaders in public health, government, law enforcement, the medical community, parents and advocates convened in Atlanta for the 2015 National Rx Drug Abuse Summit, organized by Congressman Hal Rogers and Operation UNITE, which is dedicated to stopping prescription drug abuse. They came to Atlanta because of stories such as Taylor’s.

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