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Rotary Club learns about national opioid crisis

The Carmi Rotary club got a very sobering lesson in the national opioid crisis from Dr. Patrick Haskell.

Dr. Haskell told the club that his earliest recollection of someone being hooked on an opioid drug was the book and movie, To Kill A Mockingbird. In the story, a young boy was told to go next door to read to a lady each day. He did this, and noticed that each day the reading became longer and longer. After the neighbor died, it was discovered that she was addicted to an opioid, and was using the story time to take her mind off of her addiction, so she could die peacefully, knowing she had kicked her habit.

As the doctor explained, it is easy to get hooked, and most people are not doing it just to get high, but came under the drug’s spell due to a legitimate injury or pain. The explosion of this epidemic started in the late 90’s, when the drug company Knoll introduced Hydrocodone into the market, and sold it as an almost miracle drug for pain. Unfortunately, the testing they relied on was flawed, and as a result the drug was oversold on the public with today’s horrible consequences the result of that sales job.

Knoll was eventually found guilty of misleading the public, and was forced to pay a fine. However, it is estimated before the fine was paid, the company was making over a billion dollars in sales from this drug.

Today, people with sprained ankles are showing up at emergency rooms and walking out with a month’s supply of some type of opioid. When that supply runs out, they find themselves hooked, and when they can no longer obtain a legal drug, many turn to heroin, which is actually cheaper to get than the original drug.

Deaths from overdoses have quadrupled since 1999 in the United States. Another staggering fact: the USA has 4.6% of the world’s population, but consumes 80% of the opioids and 99% of the world’s hydrocodone!

There are many other costs associated with this epidemic besides the number of deaths. Also attributed to the crisis are lost work days, lawyer fees, rehab fees, and a serious uptick in crime when people are forced to steal to support their habit.

Many groups are pushing for tougher regulation of these drugs as well as looking for alternative treatments. Some of these alternatives include; massage therapy, chiropractic care, acupuncture, and many other ideas.

In closing, Dr. Haskell told the club a very sad fact; in the hour the club met, three people in the US died from an opioid overdose.

Prior to Dr. Haskell’s presentation, Tom Logan and Randy Douglass teamed up to tell the club about a very unique and interesting event going on close to Carmi. Tom and Sherri Logan recently took a bus tour to “Lights Under Louisville”. This amazing area is an old mine under the city of Louisville, that every year is transformed into one of the most spectacular light shows in the country. The visitor drives through the 17-mile tunnel, and along the way sees over 2 million lights in all shapes and sizes. The cost per car is twenty-seven dollars, but the show is priceless!

The Rotarians briefly discussed the spring trivia contest, which believe it or not, is only three months away.

Randy Adams won the 50/50 drawing but did not claim the day’s cash prize. Long time Rotarian Paul Schumaker, was named the day’s phantom.

The Carmi Rotary club meets every Thursday at noon at the First United Methodist Church on Main Street in Carmi. Anyone wishing to learn more about this civic organization is welcome to attend a meeting or speak with any Carmi Rotarian.