In opioid-related deaths per 100,000 residents, New Hampshire is No. 2 nationally, Massachusetts No. 5 and Maine No. 7, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Nationally, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average 2015-2016 increase in overdose deaths was 21.5 percent. In 2016, New Hampshire’s synthetic-opioid overdose rate led the country, and Massachusetts was No. 3.

So what can citizens do?

The answer is in H.R. 471 (look it up). Passed in 2016, this bill removed many restrictions on opioid manufacturers. By pressuring House members, citizens can get action started – first by eliminating the drug-industry-friendly loopholes in H.R. 471.

I’ve written letters to seven New England representatives, asking for action. We need more letters from citizens of New Hampshire and Maine asking the same. And we must follow up!

It will take time to control the flow of opioids. Look at what finally happened to Big Tobacco when the health hazard was a recognized fact.

If Congress would or could restrict the manufacture of opioids, we could start to see reduced use because of the reduced supply.

With permission of Congress, a limited number of opioid manufacturers are motivating use and implementing pricing that is gouging the user.

Yes, there will still be a need for users to find relief from their problems, but at least one type of death – dealing illicitly accessed painkilling drugs – will be mitigated!

Citizen iniative is required from all of us who care, now and continuously! Put pressure on your members of Congress and keep it on. We will win the day on reducing opioid deaths.

David Lincoln

Kittery