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Journalist and author shares findings on opiate epidemic

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - The critically-acclaimed author of Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic visited South Bend Tuesday to share his findings on the cause, effect, and potential solutions with the medical community.

This same day, the CDC released a report detailing emergency department visits for opioid overdoses between July 2016 and September 2017.

One stat they shared is that opioid overdoses went up by 30% in all areas of the U.S.

The CDC also found that the Midwest saw a 70% increase in opioid overdose ER visits in that time period.

"An entire generation or more of doctors were convinced that they needed to start prescribing these pills for all manner of pain and very aggressively," said Sam Quinones, journalist and Dreamland author.

One example that will likely forever remain in the minds of those living in St. Joseph County is Dr. Graham's murder when he refused to prescribe narcotics to a new patient.

“It’s affecting smaller counties like this one very deeply, because a lot of places don’t have money to be dealing with the collateral damage of this epidemic," said Quinones.

He's collected stories like these from across the country and south of the border to narrate how opioid use has become an epidemic.

“We tried the one magical silver bullet. All pain...the one answer will be pills...and that was a massive mistake," said Sam.

That mistake has cost some of those who made it dearly.

“I haven’t gone a single shift without seeing someone acutely intoxicated with heroin or another opioid or withdrawing," said Chelsey Miller, a medical student.

Miller is now learning how medical professionals are working to turn the page on the problem they unwittingly helped to create.

“You hear a lot of clinicians talk about how they don’t prescribe them as much. You hear a lot about alternate methods to controlling pain. You hear a lot about the combinations with other medications," she said.

Sam says the community has the power to write the final chapters in this crisis.

“It seems to me to stand to reason that the way you defeat a drug that is based on isolation...is through community, through coming together," he said.

To learn more about Quinones and his book, click here.

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