MCPS and the media must change the narrative to curb overdosing


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The past years overdose statistic have continued the alarming trend of overdoses rising. The number of overdoses reached an all time high in 2022.

By Liam Klein, Opinions Editor

Prince, Tom Petty, Mac Miller, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Tyler Skaggs, Juice WRLD, Heath Ledger, Len Bias, Jimi Hendrix and Elvis Presley. What do all of these incredible famous and talented people have in common? They all died of an accidental overdose. 

Overdosing is a frighteningly common occurrence. But instead of mourning the death of famous celebrities and using them as a warning to condemn drug use and the harsh reality of addiction, they are praised and go down in infamy. Death by overdosing has almost been romanticized or glorified by pop culture and the media. Because of this, the media and MCPS alike need to do more to prevent drug use and overdoses in order to change the perception surrounding them. 

One of the main reasons why this is such a big issue is that overdoses have been on an alarming rise in recent years. While the metrics are currently not available for 2022, according to the CDC 107,622 drug overdose deaths took place in the United States during 2021, an increase of nearly 15% from the 93,655 deaths estimated in 2020. While the increase was far less of what it was a year ago, when overdose deaths rose 30% from 2019 to 2020, this higher number is still alarming. 

The examples of drug use and overdosing in pop culture in today’s day and age are almost too many to count. According to the American Addiction Center (AAC), any form of drug use is depicted once every 63 minutes on television on average as well as in half of all music videos. 

While drug use will always be prevalent in society and media alike, one thing that must take place is showing the consequences that go along with drug use. According to the AAC, less than one in four scenes depicting drug abuse actually shows the consequences of these actions. 

Because of this lack of accurate depiction of the effects of drug abuse and the clear rise in overdoses in the past decade, it is clear that MCPS and media alike must do more to prevent drug abuse and overdoses. 

While health is a required course that students must take for a full year, many students take it early on either during their freshman or sophomore year and some students even enroll over the summer to get the credit. Along with the typical advisory lesson given at the beginning of the new school year each year is all of the drug prevention teaching that MCPS does. 

The changes do not need to be significant, but there are a plethora of ways MCPS can do more, from something as simple as flyers around the school to more advanced things like planning advisory lessons towards drug use and overdose prevention. 

However, while few and far between there are beginning to be more and more good examples of the consequences of drug and abuse and the reality of overdosing in popular culture. From Netflix’s Bojack Horseman, which depicts how drug abuse derails one’s career and ultimately ruins their life, to HBO’s Euphoria which many regard as one of the best recent depictionsons of addiction. 

Even in the music industry, there has been more of a pushback to this depiction around drug use. Most prominently on J. Cole’s “KOD ”, the album discusses drug use among the younger generations. Cole wants to kill glorification and endorsement of the usage of drugs with kids. Cole tries to motivate the young generation to live a healthier lifestyle and stay away from illicit substances.

Depictions in the media are improving and MCPS requiring a year of health class, providing free Fentanyl tests are steps in the right direction. And while these improvements in recent years have helped work to change the perception surrounding drug use and overdoses, there is still more that can be done by MCPS and the media alike. 

“Overdosing is just not cool. There’s no legendary romance. You don’t go down in history because you overdosed.” – Mac Miller