Opioid Epidemic On the Rise

Did you know that 91 Americans die from overdose everyday? Which is 33,215 people every year and 531,440 people over the course of the last 16 years (as of 2017).

Opioid is a class drug used as a painkiller substance that are used illegally that acts as a opioid receptors to produces morphine like effects. The opioid crisis broke out in the United States and Canada due to prescription and nonprescription drugs during the late 1990’s to the early decade of the 2000’s.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, drug overdose involved deaths continue to increase in the United States. The majority of drug overdoses deaths (six out of ten) involved an opioid.

Since 1999, the number of drug overdoses involving an opioid (including prescription opioid and heroin) has quadrupled. From 2000 to 2016, more than half of million Americans died from a drug overdose.

When did the opioid crisis begin? It all started in the 1990’s when a small group of physicians started to receive funding from drug firms, which led to the mass creation of multiple painkillers like Vicodin, Morphine, Methadone. But what really set the opioid epidemic to the bar was the Sackler family foundation.

American brothers Arthur, Mortimer and Raymond Sackler started the groundbreaking business behind the opioid crisis with their infamous Purdue Pharma family company. Before Purdue Pharma was “Purdue Pharma’’, the company was founded and formerly owned by John Purdue Gray and George Frederick Bingham back in 1892 when it was known as “Purdue Frederick Company” in New York, New York. Nearly halfway through the 20th century, founders sold off the company to the Sacklers in 1952. With the rise of the new of the 1990’s, Purdue Pharma L.P. targeted mainly towards pain medications and more. The company that “pioneer in developing medications for reducing pai, a principal cause of human suffering,” is the producer of OxyContin” stated from a article from The Conversation.

With Marijuana, Magical Mushrooms, and Hallinates being some of the substances that sparked up the generation in the 60’s and mid 70’s, Cocaine sparking in the mid 80’s, these were just infamous events that led opioid epidemic to be with the letter creation of OxyContin. OxyContin is described to “a specific brand name for a pain medication in the opioid class (narcotic drugs) that contains the extended-release version of oxycodone…”, according to the american addiction centers.org. Oxycodone is “an opiate agonist that is the active ingredient in a number of narcotic pain medications, including Percocet, Percodan, and Oxycontin” according from the same source.

Since the public approval of stocking Oxycontin in 1995 and Purdue Pharma introducing it as a drug that would prevent the pain, the world of pain medication had taken a new turn. By 1998, a new classed drug called  Actiq also known as Fentanyl was released as another pain medication that helps relieve critical ongoing pain that’s the result of cancer.

As of recent, everyone who has ever prescribed opioids, sold, and or benefited from opioids have now come to the realization that opioids is extremely addictive and harmful to the body. Which is pretty ironic considering numerous of sources many years ago claimed that these substances didn’t do anything. But the thing that is fascinating about the whole concept is the fact that the main consumers are people of the Caucasian descent. According to an Huffington Post article, “White people with money weren’t by the crack epidemic, it was out of sight, out of mind.” This statement followed by a study from JAMA Psychiatry citing that “… heroin usage among has risen dramatically over the last decade.” (also from the same article.)

With the percentage of drug overdoses and the popularity increases in multiple painkiller companies and brands, the more people who truly believed that opioids wasn’t a big issue has now develop a certain interest in stopping this dilemma. Numerous of politicians to the president of the United States have now urged the mass public about the dangers of opioids and how we should put a stop to this horrendous crisis.

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Media Rises

By Shanita Baker, Class of 2019
Photographs by Brandon Nixon, Class of 2018

The High School for Media and Communications, together with the publishing house Simon & Schuster, released the second volume of Rise, a creative arts and publishing collaboration that compiles the work of students. This volume consists of material by 51 students that contributed content such as book and film reviews, opinions on unity, and expressing their thoughts on how particular books were able to convey their voice. Students also created art that spreads positivity and their thoughts towards others in a ceremony located at the well renowned Morris Jumel Mansion on Jumel Terrace in Washington Heights on June 16th, 2017.

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Senior Victoria Tejeda at the Rise publishing party. Victoria illustrated the cover of the second volume of Rise.

Many people especially from the public were allowed to go share in the celebration of the students’ accomplishments. Media students, parents of writers, associates of the school and many more gathered at the mansion. Special guests that had taken time out of their day, came out to congratulate the writers were Yuet Chu, who is the Executive Director of Manhattan Field Support Center and Manhattan Deputy Borough President Aldrin Bonilla.

Once the event started, Assistant Principal Emel Topbas-Meja and Catholic Charities Community Schools Director Juan Rosa introduced Bonilla who shared his appreciation and astonishment towards the students’ hard work at the exhibit. Bonilla was so excited, he announced to the audience that the school would be granted $700,000 dollars towards the Media and Technology department to build a television studio. After that announcement, the audience was able to listen to the students read their work.

The students who were brave enough to speak and share their pieces delivered an amazing presentation, but it was seniors from the class of 2017, Yanmanuel Infante and Melissa Olivar, whose writing that was really an audience favorite. Infante brought a very comforting presence with a sense of interest due to the narrative he was talking about in his reading of “Fugitive From My Mind” in both English and Espanol while Olivar showed how powerful our thoughts could be with her personal writing “Hair” by turning her insecurities into a positive by discovering her passion. Then freshmen Courtney Brown and Fatou Kebe and Graduated Melissa Olivar shared their insights a being a published writer.

Brown answered with a simply “I feel famous.”

Kebe said “It felt nice knowing you’ve accomplished something.”

Olivar replied with “It was nervous at first, but it was nice sharing my thoughts and experience.”

Out of all the guests that were invited to the event, it seemed liked Manhattan’s Executive Director Yuet Chu was mind boggled by the students of Media’s visual and written art. When asked about her experience at the RISE, Chu responded with:

“I was moved by the talent and courage of all of the students involved with the event. I could not imagine being so poised and eloquent when I was your age. The pride was palpable.”

Leading with my follow-up question “What did you like about the function?”

Chu replied with “I appreciated the historical context of the venue and the serenity of the surroundings. I also liked that the event was student-centered and student-run. You have clearly earned the respect of the adults in your school-life”.

With her previous answer, it conducted me to ask about her reaction towards the students’ written work Chu answered with:

“I was moved by every piece. But Yanmanuel’s reading of his poem in Spanish and English was the most powerful. I immigrated to the US from Hong Kong when I was 6 years old and while I can still converse in Chinese, I have not kept up with the academic language. I was so impressed that Yanmanuel recited his piece so beautifully in both languages.”

Tieing with her reaction with the students’ visual arts being displayed at the exhibit Chu stated:

“I found the artwork interesting in so many ways. I appreciated the variety of the genre—from wonder woman to nature scenes … and the media – etchings, paintings, sketches. I love the cover art by Vicki – so exuberant and intense. I loved so many pieces but perhaps the rising crescent moon over blue waters is my favorite as my name means the moon.”

With all the great feedback Ms. Chu had given towards Media’s Huge accomplishment on celebrating the students, I decided to ask her how the event would be contributed towards the other Manhattan schools throughout New York; Chu answered with:

“I have had the privilege of attending many events in Manhattan schools, my biggest takeaway from your event was the sense of student-ownership. The adult were there to love and support you guys but the students were the show. There was a sense of authenticity that other events often lack because they are overly-produced.”

Since Ms. Chu seemed so pleased with the amount of time, planning, and effort we, as a small united community all took to make this extravagant count gathering to happen; I ended our interview with some words of advice to the students that shared their artwork and writing at the event?

“To the authors and artists, I say Bravo and felicidades! Thank you for sharing your talents with us. Continue to create and take risks with your artistic shelves. Don’t grow up too fast,” commented Chu.