Opioid Epidemic and How the Funeral Profession Can Help

Opioid Epidemic: State of Emergency

A White House commission is urging the president to declare an opioid epidemic state of emergency. “America is enduring a death toll equal to September 11th every three weeks,” the commission’s report notes, saying a state of emergency would “force Congress to focus on funding” ways to combat the growing epidemic. The opioid crisis, which now kills over 100 Americans a day, is also having a devastating effect on business. Companies across the country call it one of the biggest problems they face, particularly when it comes to hiring and retaining workers.

Arizona is not exempt from this crisis. Gov. Doug Ducey issued an executive order on June 13 requiring ADHS to present opioid-related statistics each week. There were 790 reported opioid deaths in Arizona in 2016, the largest yearly amount in Arizona’s history.

Opioid Report: June 15 – 22, 2017

These overdoses and  deaths are affecting almost every demographic segment. We can no longer think “This won’t happen to me or my family or my friends.” Because it is.

Opioid Epidemic: How Funeral Directors Can Respond

According to the “Opioid Epidemic: How Funeral Directors Can Respond” pamphlet by OGR, Funeral Directors are facing several challenges with this opioid epidemic. Including:

  • Uncommon  expressions of grief among families who have lost loved ones to opioid overdoses
  • Risks to the preparation room staff (Opiate residue can remain on the skin or belongings of someone who died from an overdose)
  • Potential safety hazards at funerals and visitations

As funeral professionals, it is our duty to educate the families we serve on how to acknowledge their grief. They need to know that opioid addiction is a chronic disease that requires professional treatment. Encourage them to talk about their grief and how their loved one died. We need to fight the stigma that comes with an opioid addiction death.

Resources such as grasshelp.orgbroken-no-more.org, nar-anon.org provide support and guidance to families of addicts.

For more information or to oder this pamphlet, visit the OGR Website.

Critical Issue: A 50 State View of the Opioid Epidemic

On Wednesday, July 19, 2017, NFDA hosted a Facebook Live broadcast of “Critical Issue: A 50 State View of the Opioid Epidemic.” This panel discussion took place during the 2017 NFDA Leadership Conference. Funeral directors are facing many serious issues related to opiates and other substance abuse in their businesses and communities. An expert panel provided critical information and ideas for confronting this matter from the funeral director’s perspective. The panel included:

  • Dr. Steven Bensten, Chief Medical Officer for Beacon Health Options and a member of the clinical faculty of the Department of Psychiatry at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  •  Funeral directors Charles Castiglia of Lakeside Memorial Funeral Home in New York and Keith Walker of Walker Funeral Homes in Ohio
  • Phil Pares, a former school principal, whose son and daughter lost their lives to addiction
  • Moderator: Dutch Nie of Nie Family Funeral Home & Cremation Service in Michigan