Every nineteen minutes, someone dies from a drug overdose in the US. This is triple the rate of overdose in 1990, according to the Center of Disease Control. Stop here for a moment and let that sink in.

No one should die because they do drugs. No one. But sadly, they do die. The loss of wonderful people, mostly young and in the prime of their lives, is horrendous. Death by overdose is the second leading cause of accidental death in our country.

In my experience, I have personally known of two young fabulous people who have lost their battle with drugs. Both of them were young, bright, funny, and now dead. It is an abomination that must be stopped. But how? Well, first off, education must step up to the plate in an aggressive way. I am well acquainted with a young lady who is a sophomore in high school. She tells me that once, in eighth grade, there was a speaker about the dangers of drugs. Once!

Obviously what we are doing does not work because we are failing our children. The statistics are staggering.

We know the prisons are full of young people due to drug-related crimes. Is this the answer? Since substance abuse is classified as a disease, how can we continue to punish some people rather than treat them?

The amount of money spent on fighting the drug war is so astronomical that it seems obvious we could put that money to better use in research and looking for ways to manage and treat what the medical community has labeled a disease. That is not to say we should leave our borders unsecured to drug trafficking, but if there is no demand, then supply takes care of itself. Future generations must be educated and aware of the real dangers to themselves and others. Elementary school is probably not too young to start. The huge American appetite for drugs is fueled by people who have become addicted and, believe me, becoming an addict was not the plan. No one has a desire to be an addict.

For so many, social using got out of hand and created the situation so many of our young, bright kids find themselves in. No one wants to be an addict. No one attained addiction as a goal. No one was congratulated on this achievement.

The heartache of it all is that not one of the people I see in my practice thought they could possibly become an addict. Isn’t that a testimony to their complete lack of cold, hard facts? Everyone thought they could just use and stop whenever they wanted to stop. I ask my clients all the time, “Didn’t you think there was a possibility you could get hooked?” “No,” they tell me, “no.”

We are failing and bringing upon ourselves heartache upon heartache. Crimes are being committed to get money for drugs. What would happen to the crime rate if we handled this epidemic differently? Where is the outrage? If the amount of people dying from overdose were represented by death due to airplane crashes, we would be doing something. Can you imagine if over 27,600 people a year died in plane crashes, what would we do? For starters, we would be screaming bloody murder. Why aren’t we screaming bloody murder about this?
So here we have it. Every nineteen minutes someone dies of an overdose. How can we bear this burden any longer? When impressionable kids are starting drugs at eleven or twelve years old, we are too late.

But better late than never.

Educate your children. Educate the educators. Educate your politicians. Educate your clergy. Educate yourself. And if you are the substance abuser reading this, say enough. Really, isn’t enough enough already?