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Perspective: The overdose crisis


110,000. That's the number of people who died from overdose deaths in 2022.

I got into journalism because I wanted to help America keep people who had substance use disorders alive. We were a few months into a pandemic that would alter our lives forever and substance use was on the rise, exacerbated by a supply that had been overtaken by fentanyl and causing people who used drugs to drop like flies. I was tired of burying people I loved, so I started writing about drug policy and harm reduction.

Although I ultimately switched to writing culture stories and stories about technology, my desire to educate people about naloxone and syringe programs was what brought me here. I even considered applying to public health programs before I went to grad school for communication studies. My career moved on, but my heart never left Elijah, Ryan, or any of the other countless people I lost to ODs.

In 2021, there were 22 overdose deaths in DeKalb County. Winnebago County had 148. While you can obtain naloxone through the health department or pharmacy, there are no local organizations that are explicitly dedicated to harm reduction and naloxone access.

August 31st is International Overdose Awareness Day. If you love someone who uses drugs, please get Narcan and learn the symptoms of an overdose. Should you need to use it, remember to call 911 and that it may take more than two doses. And remember that Narcan does not reverse xylazine, also known as “tranq.”

I'm Nia Norris and this is my perspective.

Originally from Pittsburgh, Nia Springer-Norris moved to DeKalb in 2021 to pursue a Master of Arts in Communication Studies with an emphasis on Journalism Studies. Nia is also a freelance journalist, editor, and communication consultant.