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The Groove - The other pandemic
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During this fearful and stressful time, the opioid pandemic has begun to clench its hands around the necks of users and even those who had previously never taken illicit substances. Professionals believe COVID has created an increase in overdose fatalities. 

According to the Knox County District Attorney General’s website, between March and May of this year 100 people died of suspected overdose-related deaths in Knox County. 

During the same time frame in 2019, 71 people died, which is a 40% increase in overdose-related deaths.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 72,000 Americans died from drug overdoses last year, increasing 5% from 2018.

Drug deaths have risen an average of 13% so far this year over last year, according to mortality data from local and state governments collected by The New York Times, covering 40 percent of the U.S. population. If this trend continues for the rest of the year, it will be the sharpest increase in annual drug deaths since 2016, when a class of synthetic opioids known as fentanyls first made significant inroads in the country’s illicit drug supply, the Times noted.

This pandemic has slowly slipped out of the news and minds of the public as COVID has taken over.

Although many people look down on addicts, no life is more important than any other. Addiction doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care about social status, gender, ethnicity, home life or age.

Addiction’s an indescribable, sickening and depressing way to live. You become a prisoner to a substance small enough to fit into the palm of your hand, depriving you of all emotions. 

No one starts out hoping to be an addict. You don’t wake up one day, and think “I’ll start taking something which will make me sick if I don’t continue taking it each and every day. I’ll hate myself and cause as much pain as possible to those who care about me. I hope to become someone whose beliefs and values are pushed aside in order to obtain a high. I can’t wait to watch my body deteriorate into a skeletal form, causing devastation to my health. I’m excited to wake up in the morning and only think of needing a fix to be able to function. I’m looking forward to losing myself, my soul and my spirit for a small dose of poison.” 

It’s a sad and lonely life filled with lies, depression, hopelessness and the feeling of drowning with no rescue boat in sight.

To those reading this who are struggling, take a deep breath and realize how lucky you are to still be alive. Keep your head above water, continue to breathe and open your eyes to see land in sight. Swim to it with the most determination and strength you have. 

Once you reach the sand, remember why you put in the effort to finally be able to press your feet into the earth and stand strong. You’re worth it.

Standard reporter Atlanta Northcutt can be reached at 473-2191.