PENNSYLVANIA - The opioid epidemic across the country continues with no signs of slowing down, including here at home. The stories impact nearly all of us. Now the Penn State community is working to help with a new project.
The message from the people behind the scenes is, “Stories can speak as loudly as statistics" and Penn State professor Glen Sterner is pushing to prove that with a new website called “Share Your Opioid Story.”
"I accumulated 8 1/2 years clean and I got complacent," recovering addict Malik W. said.
Malik is from Philadelphia and he was once an addict.
"It's a real miserable state. It takes over everything and you will be back at the bottom, he said.
Malik shares his story on the website, explaining how opioids affected his life.
His entire story, along with others' is out in the open for people to see.
“My girlfriend overdosed ... and died. I was in the room with her,” recovering addict Michael D. said.
"The stories of real people ... addicts, recovering addicts, people who have had family members who are addicts or even died from opioid overdose deaths,” PSU Social Science Institute director Susan McHale said. “These people stories needed to be heard."
Glenn Sterner created the project. Sterner is a postdoctoral scholar in the Justice Center for research at Penn State and an assistant professor of criminal justice at Penn State Abington. He hopes it will lessen the stigma around drugs -- and encourage others to talk openly about it.
"What I wanted to do is set out and try to tell those stories about the opioid crisis as it currently is," Sterner said.
The purpose is to raise public awareness of the opioid epidemic but also empower those who are affected.
"Hopefully we'll be able to talk about this on a wider scale community but likely the commonwealth," Sterner said.
The website features over 100 people throughout the state of Pennsylvania, opening and telling their stories about how opioids affected them.
"Right now, the opioid crisis is at the top, Pennsylvania is ranked typically in the top five for opioid deaths in the nation, this has been happening every year and the numbers are increasing,” McHale said
The team behind the project hopes to encourage those who need help to start a path to recovery
"I just want people to know, that if you're out there and you're struggling that you're not alone," Michael D. said.
Funding for the project comes from the Independence Blue Cross Foundation and the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs.
"Helping to share these stories, by helping people understand that these are real people going through these experiences and that they really do want to get better," Sterner said.
The website also features links to local, state and federal resources for those who need them.
You can log on to their website -- http://shareyouropioidstory.com/ for more.