In case you thought Cincinnati’s 174 overdoses in six days wasn’t extreme enough, Huntington, West Va. doubled down. 28 overdoses in four hours. That translates to 168 in a day. Or 1,008 in six days. However way you want to extrapolate matters, there is an opioid rage in the streets right now.
Last podcast episode, Greg and I tackled this subject, with the caveat that more was to come. And believe me, more will come, until folks figure out a way to fill whatever void spurs the need to ingest ever-stronger street pharmaceuticals. These bad boys appear to be laced with something law enforcers and nearby residents ain’t prepared for.
The string of mass poisonings stretched across Appalachia and the Midwest. The chaotic scene in Huntington has repeated day after day, in big cities and small towns, in Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana. Health and law enforcement officials in Tennessee alerted residents to the danger and asked them to seek help to end their dependency.
In Louisville last week, an emergency room doctor was so startled by the number of patients and the potency of the drugs that he declared a public health emergency.
Law enforcement had warned for months that batches of heroin were hitting the streets laced with potent drugs like synthetic fentanyl or carfentanil, an elephant tranquilizer 100 times more powerful than heroin.
This elephant tranquilizer was found in Georgia, too, prompting the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to issue a warning out. So the drug isn’t just gripping the Midwest and Appalachia. It’s in metro Atlanta as well.
Even more enlightening is the number of treatment beds available: there is a mass deficit. West Virginia has only 28 detox beds, according to the article. In fact as it seems with these stories as of late, there is a common thread of insufficient treatment centers in areas of rampant drug overdoses. Georgia, for example, has capped treatment centers for opioid abuse.
Maybe treatment centers aren’t the answer. Maybe replacing one drug with another ain’t the move, either. As long as folks want to get high, drug addiction rates never will reach zero. So how do we reconcile the mania?
Here’s what is needed:
More attention within our own families about drug usage. There is probably a lurking addict within your immediate family tree.
Learn CPR and other resuscitation methods. You know, just in case you may be necessary for the cause.
More attention to lawmakers on how they plan on addressing this and more engagement from citizens on this. Are there going to be proactive innovative measures or just a retread of the same lock ’em up and throw away the key philosophy? A philosophy which is being adopted by Deerborn County, Indiana, where the largest current incarceration process in America is happening.
More attention to the education surrounding this topic. Will it be fear-mongering, broad-brush information that mislead people about what is going on or empirically sound science that enables one to make better choices about their food and drug intake?
I always found it funny the FDA has food and drugs in the same pot. It makes sense upon deeper scrutiny, as food and drugs are energy sources that heal, disrupt and stir neurochemistry in the body. They can be addictive, overwhelming and deadly. In minor or less potent doses, they can be healing, euphoric and enlivening.
The hope is for the latter to dominate. As we keep seeing fallen bodies strewn amidst syringes and pills, the latter ain’t dominating. The government will throw more tax dollars at this problem, no doubt, but will conscious vigilance from the populace follow? This is going to take weightlifting from as many angles as possible.