More Americans die from accidental drug overdoses than car accidents. Or guns. Where’s the outrage? Why don’t we care? Instead, we hear comments like, “if they’re getting Narcan for the third time, we should just let them die.”
For nine months, Farm and Dairy reporters Chris Kick, Katy Mumaw and Catie Noyes have focused on three rural counties in our circulation with high rates of drug overdose deaths. This three-week series shares stories from those counties. But they are your stories, too, because they are happening everywhere. The stories of drug addiction are a rural reality.
We have talked to local volunteer firefighters who are stretched thin from responding to OD calls. We have talked to county commissioners whose budgets are hammered by growing law enforcement and social services needs. We have talked to parents whose hearts have been broken. And we have talked to people with addictions who have been at the point of no return.
Why did Farm and Dairy — a farm newspaper — expend its time and resources on the opioid crisis? How could we not? Every day, we are losing people to a major killer, and there’s too much misinformation out there. There are too many stereotypes. And we think people can “just stop using.”
There is a stigma with drug use. We think users are “junkies,” and ignore the fact that many people with addictions successfully hold down a job in the office or on the farm next to you. We shame the drug user, and ignore the fact that addiction is a chronic, biological disease. And no one wants to talk about it. That needs to change.
We hope our series will do three things: raise awareness among our readers, dispel myths and share solutions.
This print series was edited by Aimee Tenzek and designed by art director David Hartong. It is accompanied online by a special landing page: www.farmanddairy.com/ruraladdiction. On the website, created by graphic designer Tammy Reese and coordinated by online editor Sara Welch, we feature additional stories and information not found in print, as well as audio and video, and we hope you will visit and share those links.
Thank you for your readership.
— Editor Susan Crowell
Read Editor Susan Crowell’s column for insight into the Farm and Dairy’s series.