It was recently reported that 185 residents of Massachusetts had died from a heroin overdose. The 185 deaths did not include confirmed drug deaths in the state’s three largest cities, so the number is certainly off the mark.
Heroin has become the drug of choice here in the Bay State in large part because it is cheap ($ 7 a bag) and readily available. Police, EMTs and hospitals can’t keep up with the overdose epidemic and quick and comprehensive intervention is necessary.
Many of the survivors of the overdoses and those who continue to shoot up the drug cite the use initially of painkillers like Oxycontin as the gateway drug to a heroin high. With addiction firmly in place the stage is set for police cars and ambulances coming to a home to rescue someone who is near death.
Since many of these overdoses and deaths involved young people there will be those who ask the question, ” where were the family members, where were the friends, where were the loved ones when it was clear that the user was on drugs or his/her arms were black and blue from syringe use?”
Right now this is not the time for judgment or questions about family and friends responsibility. This heroin epidemic is in crisis mode and is now national in scope. Thankfully, government officials at all levels are now coming together to take aggressive measures not only in law enforcement but also in drug treatment and public education.
Some police departments now have a anti-overdose drug called Narcan that can postpone death by injecting the medication into the nose of the addict, but an immediate trip to the hospital is essential before the overdose claims another life.
In a perfect world it would be nice if young people would recognize the dangers of drugs and turn their energies elsewhere, but boredom, unemployment, ill-advised friendships, and the all to human desire to feel happy are just too powerful. We now live in a nation where getting high is mainstream, where alcohol is an everyday companion, where pill-taking is commonplace. We shouldn’t be surprised then that heroin use is on the rise. It is the next step up the addiction ladder.