Rhode Island health officials have rolled out a new campaign against drug addiction. The campaign debuts as the state faces more grim statistics: 232 Rhode Islanders died from apparent accidental drug overdoses in 2014, the same number as in 2013.
You may see their faces on buses, or hear their voices in public service announcements. They’re people in recovery from addiction. They include Jonathan Goyer, a former addict turned recovery counselor. He said it will take more than advertising to fight drug addiction.
“At the end of the day this media campaign is just that: a media campaign," said Goyer. "None of this matters if we aren’t practicing the principles of love, compassion, understanding, and empathy in our relationships with others.”
Goyer said more Rhode Islanders should learn about addiction so they can recognize the signs.
The department of health calls the new campaign ‘Addiction is a disease. Recovery is possible.’
232 Rhode Islanders died last year from apparent accidental drug overdoses. More than half the deaths involved prescription painkillers, according to the Rhode Island Department of Health.
Dept. director Dr. Michael Fine says more than 80 percent of addicts who use illicit drugs get started on prescription painkillers, obtained all too easily from a health care provider.
“We need doctors, nurse practitioners, dentists, anyone who prescribes to change their prescribing behavior," said Fine. We need pharmacists to change their dispensing behavior, so we check the prescription monitoring program every single time we prescribe or dispense.”
Rhode Island has not made progress reducing the number of overdose deaths. The number who died in 2013 was also 232. That’s nearly double the number of overdose deaths just five years ago.