Name: Maya Osborne
Combatting the Opioid Epidemic
Growing up in deep Appalachia, I was surrounded by the opioid epidemic, something that affected friends, family, and neighbors. My family had relatively limited access to reliable healthcare, and I watched people around me fall victim to drug overdose and misuse. From this experience, I have the drive to support people who feel left behind and have feelings of doubt and uncertainty towards healthcare professionals. An Appalachian Regional Commission report from August 2017 states that “in 2015, the overdose mortality rate among individuals ages 25 to 44 was 70 percent higher in the Appalachian region compared to the rest of the nation.” The Opioid Epidemic can be combated with the promotion of safer alternatives, such as NSAIDs, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen, as well as public awareness campaigns that insist upon the severity of substance abuse. Support and normalization of mental health resources like cognitive behavioral therapy would also be beneficial, as childhood trauma and opioid abuse have shown a positive correlation. Addiction and substance abuse, like other diseases, is combated by understanding the causes, symptoms, and effects of the condition. Strong skills in math and statistics to collect and interpret health data to conceptualize and propose programs to counteract the opioid epidemic are essential. Communication skills to share findings to professionals, patients, and communities are vital in keeping individuals informed and educated. Developing disease treatments and containment plans require critical thinking skills and creativity. My educational goals are to hone these skills in order to combat the Opioid Epidemic.