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    Oyauma Garrison: ‘We stand on the frontlines of the opioid crisis.’ Much work is needed

    By Oyauma Garrison, Guest columnist

    My father served his country in Vietnam. He was a hero — and not just to me. But the same war that brought out his greatest strengths in battle also made him vulnerable to a disease that became his toughest enemy. Addiction to heroin haunted him throughout his life.

    I’ve thought of my father frequently since becoming the CEO of Maryhaven last summer.

    Maryhaven is now entering its 70th year and, since 1953, we’ve cared for more than 300,000 clients striving to recover from substance use disorders, related mental health concerns such as depressions, and, since 2010, gambling addiction. Last year alone, 13,000 people entered our doors.

    We stand on the frontlines of the opioid crisis that continues raging, causing 80,000+ overdose deaths in 2021 alone (up 15% from 2020). We can testify to how the brain disorder called addiction continues wreaking havoc on our families and communities.

    We still have a lot of work to do to achieve an addiction-free world. And there is no one strategy that will get us to that goal. However, several strategies have come home to me as important:


    An overdose can begin shutting down critical bodily functions within seconds.