Two people very close to me are on the front lines of the opioid disaster. Working in ERs and ambulances in the northeast, they see – multiple times every day – how bad it is.
You have no idea.
The toll this is taking is wide, deep, and devastating. Some public safety workers are burning out, beyond frustration and anger to a place of fatalism.
Yesterday an unconscious woman was admitted after her kids told their dad she was taking a nap on the kitchen floor. The nap was induced by a very heavy dose of benzos on top of heroin; when dad came home from work – he’s a public safety worker too – she was unresponsive.
Revived with a hefty dose of Narcan, the woman “justified” her dosage as needed due to some unspecified mental trauma.
This one example is playing out multiple times every day for every ambulance crew, in every ER, in every neighborhood. NPR’s morning news greeted me with a piece about elephant-tranquilizer Carfentanil, a made-in-China chemical that is exponentially more powerful than fentanyl, which is exponentially more powerful than heroin. Now spreading rapidly thru Ohio, Florida, and the midwest, carfentanil will soon find its way into your town.
If you think I’m being alarmist, you’re wrong.
Here’s how this is impacting us today.
- parents are dying in front of their kids. who’s going to take care of those kids, and prevent them from following in their parents’ tragic footsteps?
- To some public safety workers, Narcan is NOT saving lives, it is a Get-Out-Of Jail-Free card, allowing users to “safely” push the limits of dosing in their quest to get ever higher ever longer.
- opioids may soon be replaced by drugs such as carfentanil. Why grow poppies when you can just order this pill from a chemical factory in China?
- Public safety workers are at the end of their ropes. How can they not be white-hot with anger at users when confronted several times a day with parents “justifying” their using after being revived with Narcan.
This started with legitimate “prescription” drugs pushed by pharma companies making billions. Make no mistake, these bastards are the ones who started the ball rolling, a ball that has gotten ever-larger and is crushing more and more of us as it picks up momentum.
The great late David DePaolo penned a piece on Purdue just days before he died. It’s well worth reading, and remembering.
But the disaster unleashed by Purdue and their ilk is way beyond what any of us thought it would become. As powerful and necessary as the Surgeon General’s letter to physicians is, it is so, so late.
Will this epidemic be solved by public health measures far greater than anything we’ve thought of or funded to date, or, like smallpox among Native Americans or the Plague in Europe, is it fated to burn out only after it kills most users, leaving no one else to infect?
Have a great weekend.