The opioid epidemic has changed us.
And one thing is certain: stigma kills.
The Minnesota Opioid Project is an oral history project created by historian and writer Amy C. Sullivan, PhD. The sixty-plus narrators interviewed for a forthcoming oral history archive include people who have experienced an opioid use disorder, parents and loved ones, physicians, social workers, treatment specialists, and grassroots activists who each shared personal experiences and insights. Their stories add depth and complexity to the history of drug treatment, addiction medicine, and harm reduction in Minnesota: the birthplace of alcohol and drug treatment.
The skyrocketing opioid overdose deaths began in the late 1990s with prescription pain pills, drastically increased heroin use, and now, illicitly manufactured fentanyl has led to the deaths of well over half a million Americans since 1999. Despite intense media coverage, federal legislation, and increasing harm reduction efforts, the opioid epidemic continues to ravage families and communities nationwide.
The heavy-lift of this project is to help end stigma by adding perspective, depth, and humanity to a problem that has for too long blamed individuals for their addictions.
Opioid Reckoning: Love, Loss, and Redemption in the Rehab State is the book that emerged from Sullivan’s collection of interviews. It takes an empathetic but agnostic approach to drug use, parenting, treatment, recovery, medication, AA, abstinence and moral judgements about drug users. The swift death an opioid overdose can cause has provoked a reckoning at every level of society–across all sectors and communities.
This book offers readers a chance to think hard about stigma, question treatment models and the healthcare system, while also imagining a future where anyone experiencing an opioid use disorder can get the right kind of help they need for as long as they need it.