To combat overdose, we need solutions, not stigma

By Jeannette Krupp
Posted 10/5/22

Every six minutes, someone in the United States dies from a drug-related overdose.

On April 16, 2021, that someone was my brother.

He was only 38 and left behind three young daughters, who are …

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To combat overdose, we need solutions, not stigma

Posted

Every six minutes, someone in the United States dies from a drug-related overdose.

On April 16, 2021, that someone was my brother.

He was only 38 and left behind three young daughters, who are part of a growing generation of young people who will have to navigate life without a parent.

His death wasn’t my family’s first loss to drugs, either. Less than five years before that, my cousin died of an overdose at just 18 years old. Our country’s opioid epidemic robbed him of his high school graduation, fatherhood, and so many other milestones he should be here for.

After these losses, I asked myself, why haven’t we put a stop to this epidemic? 

Lawsuits against drug manufacturers, state opioid settlements, and stricter prescribing guidelines among medical providers have not been enough to curb overdoses, which, according to the most recent data available, increased 77 percent between 2015 and 2020.

Fentanyl-laced pills, including those that look like candy, are killing teens across the country, and cartels continue to traffic millions of dollars’ worth of fentanyl, heroin, and meth into the U.S.  

Still, there are reasons for optimism. 

Change is possible.

We need more people to take action, so that’s exactly what I decided to do. 

Despite being a single mom and having significant health issues, I founded Stay Strong Krupp, a nonprofit dedicated to raising awareness about substance abuse and mental health. Through Stay Strong Krup, I use fitness events and public speaking to share stories of compassion and resilience and to discuss solutions. 

Between Oct. 3 and 8, I will take that message of hope on the road with me as I bicycle across four states — a total of 450 miles — before ending in Union, Missouri. Although I am an athlete and high school coach, I was never a cyclist; I am also still regaining strength following several major surgeries, including on my elbow and hip, but I will do everything in my power to prevent other families from experiencing the kind of pain and heartbreak that I have.

To start, we must keep this issue in the spotlight.

We need to have hard conversations and approach addiction with empathy and understanding instead of judgment and stigma. We also need more resources dedicated to both prevention and intervention.

One promising strategy that cities across the country are using to counter the epidemic is equipping public spaces like schools and libraries with naloxone, an overdose antidote, and teaching civilians how to administer it. Some restaurants are even stocking the drug.

I applaud those efforts; now we need to expand that approach to other places, like public transportation.

My brother was on a bus when he overdosed. If a naloxone kit had been available, he might still be here today. 

This is my third multi-state bike ride, but this time I won’t have my brother to cheer me across the finish line. I know he wanted to be here. He fought hard to battle his disease, with multiple attempts at rehab.

To save more lives like his, the people battling substance use disorder need better support at the community, state, and federal levels. 

We need all hands on deck.

Each time we suffer a loss, the trauma from it ripples out, with consequences not only for the immediate family but for the entire community. We are losing parents and children, spouses and siblings, friends and future leaders who could have contributed so much to our society.

It’s time to end the loss and trauma. Together, we can save lives.

Together, we can stay strong.

A Bike 450 finish-line celebration and remembrance, co-hosted by Twist of Hope, will be held Oct. 8 from 1 to 6 p.m. at the fairgrounds in Union.

To join the last leg of the ride, from Chesterfield to Union, or to cheer along the final stretch of the route, visit https://staystrongkrupp.com/bike450-2022 for details or follow #Bike450 on social media.

To honor a lost loved one or to recognize someone in recovery, visit https://staystrongkrupp.com/bike450-name-submission.

(Jeannette Krupp is a nonprofit founder, high school coach, and Owensville High School graduate who was a standout volleyball and track student athlete. She lives with her son in Denton, Texas).

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