I was saddened, particularly as a retired pastor, to read of the mass overdose crisis in New Haven, Connecticut, a few days ago.
This mass, rapid-fire overdose event was a sped-up version of what is happening across the US as local and federal governments struggle to reduce the colliding impacts of opioid, methamphetamine, cocaine and other addictions.
. . .
In 2017, drug overdoses killed nearly 200 people per day, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data released this week, a new record driven by the deadly opioid epidemic.
Since K2 was first detected in the US in 2008, clusters of overdose outbreaks have become more and more common. About 56 people overdosed from K2 in Brooklyn in May; 100 people overdosed in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, in July 2017 and 40 people overdosed in Dallas, Texas, in May 2014.
Sometimes K2 is laced with the powerful opioid fentanyl, but investigators including the federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) said they have not yet found any in the New Haven sample.
Officials said there have not been any deaths from this batch of K2, but they fear the long-term consequences of a drug that causes hallucinations, vomiting and a rapid heart rate.
K2 is also known as synthetic marijuana because it interacts with cannabinoid receptors in the central nervous system to produce psychoactive effects. But K2 is much more potent and is an unpredictable mix of differing concentrations of different chemicals that are poured or sprayed on plant material.
Despite the mystery of each batch, K2 is appealing to drug users because its cost is low, its chemicals aren’t detected on standard drug tests and its changing mixtures make law enforcement efforts more complicated than with purer drugs such as marijuana.
“It’s just a daunting, daunting thought for the future,” said Costello. “This is a much bigger problem and a much bigger threat to national security than other things.”
There’s more at the link.
Yes, it’s tragic: yes, it’s sad: but it’s also pretty much unavoidable, at least by traditional methods such as cracking down on the drug manufacturers and dealers, and expecting police or health services to cope. They can’t. The problem’s too big, and it won’t go away, because the demand for the drug(s) won’t go away. Users won’t or can’t learn, and they don’t get scared enough to stop . . . and so the crisis goes on.
I begin to think that the only way to solve the problem, or at least reduce it to manageable proportions, is to issue an edict that when people overdose (or use contaminated narcotics) to the point of becoming unresponsive, they should not be helped, but allowed to suffer the consequences of their actions. We simply don’t have enough police and emergency medical services personnel to cope with the situation, so let’s stop trying. Rather, let’s direct our efforts to education, deterrence, and helping those who are getting into drugs before they get too far into trouble. They, at least, hold out the hope of some return on society’s investment of time, money and effort in them. Those who are too far gone down the slippery slope . . . they don’t. There have been far too many cases of addicts being saved from an overdose by a timely dose of Narcan, who later the same day had to be rescued in the same way all over again. They won’t stop. They can’t stop. Therefore, is it heartless or cruel to say that we should allow them to endure the inevitable consequences of their own choices, and allow nature to take its course?
There are those who protest that this is unconscionable: that even the worst addicts, those needing resuscitation more than once per day, can be saved. I agree that some of them (a very, very few of them) do hold out hope, like this man. However, I venture to suggest that most don’t. Who’s going to make the judgment call? And how can we explain to the sober, contributing-to-society citizen who’s had a heart attack, and is desperately waiting for an ambulance, that he’s going to die, because the EMS crew that should be taking him to hospital are instead administering Narcan to yet another addict who’s going to turn around and do exactly the same thing again? To my mind, there’s no contest as to which emergency deserves the higher priority . . . but right now, EMS isn’t allowed to make that distinction. I believe it’s time that changed.
What say you, readers?