The faces above and the stories below are a snapshot of the devastating opioid epidemic sweeping across the United States. Publicly acknowledging that a family member suffered from an addiction to drugs, or died of an overdose, has long been a taboo subject one best kept secret among family and a few knowing friends. That is changing.
As the death toll from the opioid crisis mounts, families are increasingly weaving desperate warnings into the obituaries of loved ones about the horror that can result when people abuse painkillers, heroin, and synthetic drugs such as fentanyl.
Many words of remembrance have been transformed into pleas for help directed at lawmakers, families suffering similar experiences, and the general public. Families are using these public notices to push for better and more treatment options while spreading the message that addiction is a disease and not something to be endured in shameful silence.
STAT searched Legacy.com and other sources and selected excerpts from the obituaries of 52 people who died in 2016. In every case, the families of these mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, sons, daughters, and even grandmothers decided to make their loved ones struggle with opioids public in the death notice.
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