One of the most controversial debates in the drug and alcohol addiction sphere is on the subject of what we do about people who overdose on drugs or fall into serious alcohol poisoning. As the drug epidemic has grown considerably more toxic and ruthless, there are those who believe we should just, “Let overdose victims die,” and not respond to them medically. Obviously, this is an extremely controversial view and one that we completely disagree with.
In recent news, one City Councilman from Ohio spoke strong, vehement words about drug overdoses, the kinds of efforts expended in Ohio to reverse such overdoses, and how those efforts ultimately end up being futile as addicts saved from overdose go right back to using. This Councilman’s thought was that, rather than expending the effort, manpower, and resources to respond to overdose victims, the city should instead ignore their calls for aid, even if it put the addicts’ lives at further risk.
Ohio is the source of one of the most vicious opioid problems the nation has ever seen, if not the worst. At the height of the epidemic in 2017, the state was facing an extensive economic crisis due to the expenditures necessary in responding to opioid problems. When all of the expenses were added up, the problem became a very real one. Medical response. Law enforcement. Treatment. Funeral expense. Loss of workplace productivity. These are just some of the economic hits that Ohio has taken as a direct result of its drug problem.
One city in Ohio, Middletown City, had to respond to over one-hundred overdose deaths in less than six months. The city suffered another fifty heroin deaths in just one month after the initial tally. That’s more than one-hundred and fifty deaths in just seven months in a city that experienced only seventy-four deaths the previous year..
After the final death toll came in, one City Councilman threw his hands up in exasperation on the issue, asking if they legally had to respond to overdose emergencies. The concept here was that if the city was going to expend resources to help addicts who were only going to go right back to using drugs, why bother? Addicts dying from drug overdoses, while certainly morbid in its own way, would be one way to address the opioid problem in Middletown.
Obviously, the above sentiment is not a popular one. It was also one that was not seriously explored, even in one of the worst opioid cities in the nation. A better approach would be to keep tracing the problem up and up the chain. Worrying about the addicts dying in the street is important, yes, but if a city only ever makes progress in that regard, the problem will never cease.
Cities, districts, states, entire areas need to focus on addressing the source of the drug abuse, which isn’t really the addicts at all, it’s the drug traffickers and the pharmaceuticals. Constantly trying to chase after addicts, save their lives, arrest them, try to put them in rehab, etc. is an endless cat and mouse game.
In the bigger picture, it is necessary to cut addiction out at its source by changing the way opiates are handled in this country. States need to focus more attention on finding alternative forms of pain management. We need to revolutionize our current approach to medicine to allow for holistic methods of addressing pain problems that do not involve addictive drugs. We need to change border patrol tactics and increase law enforcement presence to cut down on the current heroin epidemic.
The words of the Middletown, Ohio Councilman were probably not spoken with seriousness, but it directs our attention to a real problem and a real concern that we all face. And it directs our attention to a frustration that runs deep through all of us. This is a crisis. An epidemic. And it will continue to be so until we take the right action to address it.