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“...every angel has a past and every sinner has a future.”
September 1, 2014 2:04 PM   Subscribe

Staten Island’s Pill Problem: [The New Yorker] "New York City is the heroin capital of the country, and the epidemic has hit its most tranquil borough the hardest."
posted by Fizz (18 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
The opioid epidemic may seem to be a crisis that simply happened, but actual people set it in motion, and other actual people make it worse and keep it going.

Well said and applicable to almost all public health crises.
posted by oinopaponton at 2:20 PM on September 1 [1 favorite]


She said no one was ever beyond redemption, because “every angel has a past and every sinner has a future.”

That is part of what is wrong about our approach to addiction. You are not a "sinner" because you get addicted to anything. You're a person who is wired in a way that the addiction that takes you over does so, and the ability to gain the substance you're addicted to is available. There is no "sinning" going on, and as soon as we stop making people feel shame for something that literally controls them and allow them to understand that reaching out and asking for help or focusing on reducing harm, the better.
posted by xingcat at 2:30 PM on September 1 [14 favorites]


Addiction doesn't absolve you of responsibility for your actions.
posted by charlie don't surf at 2:48 PM on September 1 [4 favorites]


Isn't it funny how junk makes it into the country despite our overwhelming, overreaching security apparatus?
posted by Renoroc at 2:56 PM on September 1 [4 favorites]


Wasn't there another longform article recently about the heroin epidemic on Staten Island?
posted by Nevin at 4:16 PM on September 1 [1 favorite]


Addiction doesn't absolve you of responsibility for your actions.

That's absolutely true. But the idea that an addicted person is somehow tarnished due to his/her addictions can contribute to a shame/hiding/escalation cycle. Especially when you're talking about prescription painkillers, which grab some people when they genuinely need them, saying that you've medicated yourself and enjoyed it too much makes you a "sinner," or some sort of bad person for it, is part of the problem.

If it weren't so ridiculously charged for someone to tell a loved one or a boss or a clergyperson, "Hey, I've been dabbling in [substance x], and it's getting out of hand, could you help me to stop," I think it would go a long way in breaking the cycle that leads to so many overdoses.
posted by xingcat at 4:54 PM on September 1 [4 favorites]


The "every sinner has a future" is a quote from the mother of a young man who had overdosed and should be interpreted in that context.

The theme of good, evil and indifference runs through this piece. Are pushers evil? As sinners do they also have the possibility of a future where they will redeem themselves?
posted by Nevin at 4:59 PM on September 1 [2 favorites]


Isn't it funny how junk makes it into the country despite our overwhelming, overreaching security apparatus?

It isn't just that it makes it in; the supply seems to be generally stable. I see three explanations: lots and lots of small shipments, so that supply remains stable on average; large US-held stockpiles managed by the distributors; or large, low-risk pipelines. The article says that 2100 kilograms was confiscated "at the border" in 2012; according to Erowid, regular users tend to titrate upwards to around half a gram a day. So they confiscated enough for 4.2 million regular daily doses, or enough to keep about eleven and a half thousand heavy users going for a year.

How many heroin addicts are there in the USA? Estimates vary wildly, but the estimated number of people who had used heroin in the past month was 335,000 (in 2012, the same year they confiscated 11,500 user-years of heroin).

I'm going to make two wild guesses. First, that a third of the people who use heroin in any given month are regular users and the rest of them are casual. Second, that casual users consume a lot less on average, and that I can ignore them. That would mean that the annual heroin consumption in 2012 was around 20,000 kilograms. And they confiscated 2,100 "at the border". How much was confiscated elsewhere? I have no idea, but retail is much less inefficient than wholesale. Call it the same again. So around one sixth of all heroin imported into the USA eventually gets confiscated. That really isn't very much, considering.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:05 PM on September 1 [2 favorites]


Wasn't there another longform article recently about the heroin epidemic on Staten Island?

Not an article, but there is the recent "Unintentional Drug Poisoning (Overdose) Deaths Involving Opioids in New York City, 2000–2013" [pdf], New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, August 2014.

Bottomed in 2010, rising every year since.
posted by sylvanshine at 6:33 PM on September 1


The "every sinner has a future" is a quote from the mother of a young man who had overdosed and should be interpreted in that context.

"There is no saint without a past, and no sinner without a future" has been attributed to St. Augustine.
posted by sylvanshine at 6:42 PM on September 1


Previously
posted by mhz at 7:22 PM on September 1 [1 favorite]


I was listening to NPR and I heard a statistic that I unfortunately cannot specifically reference or cite but it was something along the lines of how N. America is about 5% of the world's population but consumes 75% of the pharmaceuticals. I wanted to keep listening but I had to go to work.

Anyone have a good website that shows how much the rest of the world consumes by comparison, drug abuse rates in other non-western nations?
posted by Fizz at 7:52 PM on September 1


New York City is the heroin capital of the country; twenty per cent of all the heroin confiscations and arrests nationwide happen here.

This is because we have more people in NY right? Or are there other facts that indicate we have a worse problem per capita than other cities? Because it seems a lot like this coverage is ignoring the fact that places like Baltimore (where the drug kills mostly black people) have been suffering for years. It's like "Guys this could be a real problem middle class white kids are dying Ring The Bells & Wake the Slumbering City!"

Not that it's not a real problem or that it could be growing in NY and that it really hurts some communities. But man, where was the Carealot Foundation for Albuquerque NM? or Oakland? or Cleavland? or Gary Indiana?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:58 PM on September 1 [1 favorite]


The article mentions that overdoses have eclipsed car accidents as the leading cause of accidental death in the US which would seem to indicate that heroin is indeed a problem (or cars are being engineered to be safer).
posted by Nevin at 8:08 PM on September 1 [1 favorite]


>has been attributed to St. Augustine.

If you read the article you'll see what I mean. It's a pretty good article so I hope you check it out.
posted by Nevin at 8:11 PM on September 1


Overdoses don't just happen with heroin. Regular pharmaceutical drugs kill much more.
posted by I-baLL at 9:03 PM on September 1 [1 favorite]


As I drove by Silver Mount Cemetery, on Victory Boulevard, suddenly a shirtless young man with tousled blond hair and wild eyes was walking toward me in my lane. I veered. His face was weirdly red and he held a clear plastic water bottle in one hand. By the time I pulled over and looked back for him, he was gone.

You know what that means right?

Heroin is EVOOOOOOOOL!
posted by telstar at 9:10 PM on September 1




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