In every heroin victim I still see my brother
August 25, 2017 6:41 AM   Subscribe

From Mike Newall, the Philadelphia Inquirer reporter who has written extensive coverage (previously) about the response of librarians at the Philadelphia McPherson Square Library to the opioid crisis on their doorstep: I haven’t written about my brother this summer, but he’s there in every line of every column since that first day on the library lawn. I can’t keep writing about this opioid crisis and not tell about him.
posted by mandolin conspiracy (11 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
 
My brother died in his car in North Philly, in front of a random house. His foot held down the brake pedal so eventually people came out and found him because the brake lights were on for hours.

He (we) always had trouble with drugs, but after an ATV accident was prescribed opioids and that was basically it. It took years for him to finally die, but the change was almost immediate.

Man, that shit is fucked up.
posted by Literaryhero at 7:51 AM on August 25, 2017 [15 favorites]


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posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:00 AM on August 25, 2017


Yikes, the comments on that story.
posted by maggiemaggie at 8:14 AM on August 25, 2017


Yikes, the comments on that story.

Even in the world of online comments, philly.com has always been particularly vile.

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posted by Special Agent Dale Cooper at 8:18 AM on August 25, 2017 [4 favorites]


My condolences to Mike Newall and his family. I wish there was more research into the prevention and treatment of addiction. All too often it seems to be an endless cycle of get sober/relapse/rinse and repeat until the addicted person dies - bouncing from AA to jail or homeless shelter to family member's couch back to AA or short term rehab, repeat repeat repeat until death.

There has to be a better way, a more effective treatment. Addicts and their loved ones deserve better than "let's pray that AA or rehab works this time." Especially because there are children involved in many cases and kids also deserve better than to grow up in dysfunctional families, repeating the cycle of addiction.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 8:26 AM on August 25, 2017 [3 favorites]


I don't really understand the urge to dehumanize addicts that is clearly still very powerful. I understand frustrated and overwhelmed families, but so much judgment from people who don't have addicts in their lives, to the point that they're willing to say "hey, let them fall down and die in front of us." And then the stigma and shame of having to say, "hey, by the way, 'them' includes my brother who we all loved very much."

This, though:

It was the earliest days of an epidemic. We used different language then to talk about those battling addictions

If I never hear about how opioid addiction is a new phenomenon, an unforeseen epidemic, again, it will be too soon. I'm tired of mentally inserting "for white people" in such sentences.
posted by praemunire at 9:52 AM on August 25, 2017 [10 favorites]


He (we) always had trouble with drugs, but after an ATV accident was prescribed opioids and that was basically it. It took years for him to finally die, but the change was almost immediate.


This recently happened to the son of a friend of mine. He had been getting clean, but was then in a pretty bad workplace accident (he was doing residential construction). He was prescribed opioids as part of his recovery, which got him using again. A few weeks ago, he scored a batch with fentanyl in it, and that was it.

Abbot, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and the rest have a lot to answer for. At least now, in Canada, there is real public awareness and recognition of the need for safe injection sites, front-line public health workers, and more general training in recognizing ODs and using Narcan. It's a real turn-around from when Harper tried to block safe injection sites, I just wish it had come sooner.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:02 AM on August 25, 2017 [5 favorites]


We need safe injection sites everywhere.

We also need drug companies to flood prescribers with the same kind of free "educational" dinners and assorted schwag for Suboxone and Narcan as they did with OxyContin and Fentanyl.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 7:25 PM on August 25, 2017 [5 favorites]


> There has to be a better way, a more effective treatment.

Fortunately, there are very effective treatments for opioid dependence -- methadone and buprenorphine. Unfortunately, they aren't always available, especially at some so-called rehabs. Stigma and fear of people who use drugs mean that those treatments have ridiculous amounts of restrictions on them. Bupe is the only medication where doctors are limited in the number of patients they can prescribe it to. There is absolutely no clinical reason whatsoever for the kinds of barriers we place in front of people. I can rant about this all day, but we know those treatments can reduce the death rate by over 50% and we still make it hard for people to get them.
posted by gingerbeer at 10:30 AM on August 26, 2017 [5 favorites]


> We need safe injection sites everywhere.


I think you're still in Seattle, slarty? Have you signed on to the Yes to SCS health care workers campaign?
posted by gingerbeer at 10:34 AM on August 26, 2017


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posted by salvia at 1:47 PM on August 26, 2017


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