Friday’s letters: Let’s unite to solve opioid abuse

Published May 7 2018
Updated May 11 2018

Drug execs express opioid regrets | May 9

Let’s unite to solve opioid abuse

Every day, 115 Americans die from an overdose involving either prescription or illicit opioids. Virtually no one has been untouched by the opioid addiction crisis. It has become one of Pinellas County’s most pressing health issues. It will take a village to solve this problem — and community efforts to prevent opioid abuse will be most effective if we all join forces to share information and solutions.

That’s why Sunstar Paramedics recently hosted a roundtable discussion organized by Allied Against Opioid Abuse, a new, national opioid education initiative. The event brought together Pinellas County community leaders to address opioid abuse and misuse, including the business community, health-care advocacy, first responders and medical professionals like pain management practitioners and osteopathic physicians.

As first responders, we save lives every day — but we also need to consider what comes next for the overdose patients we save. This opportunity to learn how other sectors of the community are addressing prescription opioid abuse gave us a broader view of the recovery and prevention resources available to patients once they leave our ambulance.

Studies show that more than 11 million Americans misused prescription opioids in 2016. Of those, approximately 40 percent obtained them from a friend or relative. We can all take steps to combat this problem, like ensuring that prescription medicines are safely stored, and any leftover or expired medicines are properly disposed.

Check your medicine cabinet. Are there any prescription pain medicines? If you’re no longer dealing with the issue for which these pills were originally prescribed, dispose of them as soon as possible so they don’t fall into the wrong hands. And, please, never give them to friends or family.

For more information on how to safely store and properly dispose of opioid medications, including local drop-off locations for unused medicines, visit

As Pinellas County’s emergency medical transport provider, we believe that everyone in Tampa Bay can be part of the solution — because only by coming together can we address this crisis once and for all.

John J. Peterson

The writer is the Chief Operating Officer for Sunstar Paramedics.

A huge step backward | May 9, editorial

Give us all the arguments

Although the Iran nuclear agreement topic is certainly complicated and worthy of legitimate debate, the Times should have included the specific flaws and specific rationale for the withdrawal. Isn’t it curious that those in the region who are most affected by this withdrawal decision have hailed it as courageous and completely appropriate? When Saudi Arabia (and other Arab states) and Israel agree on something, the world (and Times) should take notice and at least consider the other side of the arguments.

Noel Flynn, Wesley Chapel

We broke the deal

The president of the United States has railed against the Iran nuclear deal for a long time. His objections are that the deal is/was "really bad," "very horrible," "ridiculous" and the rest of the vague generalities. Since nobody, including the United States, has found Iran not in compliance, the deal has been violated only by the United States. So should the other countries now impose sanctions on the United States? Should the other signatories freeze the accounts of the American oligarchs? Boycott American goods? Impose sanctions on other countries or individuals who do business with us?

Thomas Maciocha, Tampa

Of beliefs, principles,
conscience | May 8, column

McCain’s funeral wish

Noting that Sen. John McCain doesn’t want President Donald Trump to attend his funeral, I adamantly agree. McCain is a true hero. I was 18 when I was drafted during the Vietnam War, and I decided to enlist in the Air Force. It’s insulting being lectured to by a privileged son of wealth who managed to evade service. Today a bellicose president threatens other countries with the arms of this great nation without a clue of what sacrifice and loyalty means. The founders of this country who sacrificed life and treasure would be ashamed.

Tony Carrion, Riverview

Focus on improving regional
BRT plan | May 2, editorial

Give me mass transit

I just don’t get it.

Why would the Tampa Bay area not want to be one of the most transportation-friendly, environmentally progressive and community-minded cities in the country? Is it because mass transit is used only by "those people"?

Look to some of the greatest cities in the world: Paris, London, New York, Chicago, San Francisco. All have subways, light rail and interconnected bus systems.

How would the rapid bus work for me to get to a Lightning game? Bucs? Any other Tampa event?

A one-way Uber is $25 plus the surge rate. Nothing happening in Tampa is worth $50 before I even pay for the event.

So, to those who don’t want "those people" to have access to safe, swift, reliable transportation in the area: I’m a 69-year-old female veteran, Air Force 1971-75 (Vietnam).

Am I one of "those people"?

Why don’t I drive? Vision loss. I thought it smarter to stop driving than run into anything or anyone.

Think about the future of the area. Light rail won’t get cheaper. And neither will gasoline.

Iggy Thompson, St. Petersburg

Men freed by N. Korea back
on U.S. soil | May 10

Just give him the prize

President Donald Trump thinks he is deserving of the Nobel Peace Prize. I say if it makes him go away, just give it to him.

Paul Chan, St. Petersburg