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Fake Graveyard Has Helped Raise Awareness About Lethal Drug Overdoses

Residents of a Chicago suburb addressed the ongoing heroin and prescription drug problem in their city by setting up a fake cemetery to highlight the growing number of drug overdose deaths.

One hundred fake tombstones and banners were set up on the lawn of Felicia Micelli as a lead-up to International Drug Overdose Awareness Day, which takes place on August 31. In the middle of the mock cemetery a sign says, “Did you know? Every 14 minutes, someone dies of a preventable drug overdose.” Advocacy groups have worked to bring the display to different neighborhoods as a means of creating awareness.

The traveling cemetery will finish its tour at the end of the month in a Chicago park, where activists will give out resources and mourn those who have died from drug overdoses.

“What we have out here are a visual of how many people die in America a day from overdose,” said Micelli, who started a foundation two years ago after her son died from a heroin overdose. “It just angers me and it makes me want to cry, because maybe my son would still be here if people were talking about it and doing something about it.”

Heroin and Prescription Drug Problems in Chicago

Local authorities in Chicago have also worked to crack down on the heroin and pain pill problem throughout the city.

Nearly 30 people were arrested in a drug ring that extended all the way to Cleveland. Between June 2010 and May 2014, undercover agents purchased heroin 37 times from members of the drug ring throughout Cleveland suburbs. The heroin buys had an overall value of $26,340. The drug ring raked in hundreds of thousands of dollars selling heroin, which they used to renovate a Cleveland apartment and then sell at a $200,000 profit.

The city has even gone after the pharmaceutical industry by filing a lawsuit against five major drug companies, including Johnson & Johnson, accusing them of creating addicts by pushing for overuse of opioid pankillers while hiding the potential risks of these drugs. The city is seeking unspecified monetary damages from the drug companies, but noted in a state court complaint that they have “paid for nearly 400,000 claims for opioid prescription fills, costing nearly $9,500,000, and suffered additional damages for the costs of providing and using opiates long-term to treat chronic non-cancer pain.”

Learn more about the dangers of heroin abuse and prescription drug abuse.