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DOING HARM – THE AMERICAN WAY!

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Here is a very sad story about a young man who died of a heroin overdose.  The parents knew he was struggling with heroin and “stayed by his side” trying to help.  His obituary read something like this: ” Our son died after losing the battle to his addiction.”  While I do not know all the details of this particular story, I did hear  a few things in the news story that caused me great distress. First, the young man had been recently arrested but let out of jail because of overcrowding.  His parents begged the system to keep him locked up.  They believe this would have saved his life.  I would argue that the arrest and experience in jail only exacerbated his drug use.

I know from experience, my own and the experiences of others that upcoming court dates, hellish experiences in jails where detox is arguably inhumane, fear of losing freedom, and fear of court mandated rehab or drug court all are very difficult for people who are already struggling with chaotic drug use to deal with.  People become terrified of the absolute worst and many times begin using in the most chaotic and dangerous ways.  They don’t feel there is any reason for positive changes because they feel their futures are doomed. Planning or preparing for the future becomes overwhelming and seemingly useless  because they feel that inevitably they will be locked up.  Tragedy and punishment removes peoples desire to moderate and function in positive ways. They give up and give in to anything that makes them feel good in the moment.  NOTHING ABOUT COURT OR JAIL helps people.

This report did not include not one second of discussion about the importance of overdose prevention and Naloxone distribution.  We know that when you flood a community with Naloxone you reduce overdose deaths by 49%.  BMJ 2013;346:f174 doi: 10.1136/bmj.f174 (Published 31 January 2013) Of course Naloxone itself is not the fix all.  Naloxone used within a comprehensive approach is always best.

Most drug treatment centers, especially 12 step programs spend little time discussing what to do if and when you relapse.  They focus all of their attention on not using no matter what and relapse prevention even though over 1/2 of rehab participants will most likely relapse.  Going to treatment and or jail puts people in a dangerous place for overdose.  Their tolerance changes and if they attend a 12 step rehab they might be told:

“Your disease progresses when you are clean. It is doing push ups…it wants to kill you …so when you start using you will start back where you left off or need even more…..”

This is the most dangerous message you can send to a person who is in rehab because it is simply not true.  If a person uses the same amount of heroin they did before they go to detox, treatment, or jail they will most certainly overdose and die.


The programs that this town is pushing is contrary to everything we know about how to help people.  They are suggesting that if there is an overdose and the police are called, the person should be cited, charged with drug paraphernalia  (if there is nothing bigger they can charge them with) and once they go to their court date mandated to treatment for at least one year.  Anyone heard of the Good Samaritan Laws that grant immunity to people when 911 is called.  This encourages people to focus on the overdose not the fear of arrest and imprisonment!

OBVIOUSLY NO ONE HAD DONE THEIR HOMEWORK IN THIS TOWN….they are all making guesses about what they think will work when there is evidence of programs that actually do work.  WHY DO WE DO THIS?  This type of program will result in people not calling 911 in an overdose situation because they fear the police.

We heard nothing in this news article that could actually help a person who is actively using heroin.  SHAME ON THIS NEWS CHANNEL!  SHAME ON THIS TOWN!  SHAME SHAME DOUBLE SHAME


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