HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Officer Sean Brinegar arrived at the house first — “People are coming here and dying,” the 911 caller had said — and found a man and a woman panicking. Two people were dead inside, they told him.

Brinegar, 25, has been on the force in this Appalachian city for less than three years, but as heroin use has surged, he has seen more than his fair share of overdoses. So last Monday, he grabbed a double pack of naloxone from his gear bag and headed inside.

A man was on the dining room floor, his thin body bluish-purple and skin abscesses betraying a history of drug use. He was dead, Brinegar thought, so the officer turned his attention to the woman on a bed. He could see her chest rising but didn’t get a response when he dug his knuckle into her sternum.

Brinegar gave the woman a dose of injected naloxone, the antidote that can jumpstart the breathing of someone who has overdosed on opioids, and returned to the man. The man sat up in response to Brinegar’s knuckle in his sternum — he was alive after all — but started to pass out again. Brinegar gave him the second dose of naloxone.

Maybe on an average day, when this Ohio River city of about 50,000 people sees two or three overdoses, that would have been it. But on this day, the calls kept coming.

Two more heroin overdoses at that house, three people found in surrounding yards. Three overdoses at the nearby public housing complex, another two up the hill from the complex.

From about 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., 26 people overdosed in Huntington, half of them in and around the Marcum Terrace apartment complex. The barrage occupied all the ambulances in the city and more than a shift’s worth of police officers.

By the end of it, though, all 26 people were alive. Authorities attributed that success to the cooperation among local agencies and the sad reality that they are well-practiced at responding to overdoses. Many officials did not seem surprised by the concentrated spike.

“It was kind of like any other day, just more of it,” said Dr. Clay Young, an emergency medicine doctor at Cabell Huntington Hospital.

But tragic news was coming. Around 8 p.m., paramedics responded to a report of cardiac arrest. The man later died at the hospital, and only then were officials told he had overdosed. On Wednesday, authorities found a person dead of an overdose elsewhere in Cabell County and think the death could have happened Monday. They are investigating whether those overdoses are tied to the others, potentially making them Nos. 27 and 28.

It’s possible that the rash of overdoses was caused by a particularly powerful batch of heroin or that a dearth of the drug in the days beforehand weakened people’s tolerance.

But police suspect the heroin here was mixed with fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is many times more potent than heroin. A wave of fatal overdoses signaled fentanyl’s arrival in Huntington in early 2015, and now some stashes aren’t heroin laced with fentanyl, but “fentanyl laced with heroin,” said Police Chief Joe Ciccarelli.

Another possibility is carfentanil, another synthetic opioid, this one used to sedate elephants. Police didn’t recover drugs from any of the overdoses, but toxicology tests from the deaths could provide answers.

Heroin Huntington WV
A home in the area where 13 people overdosed last Monday.

A battle-scarred city

In some ways, what happened in Huntington was as unremarkable as the spurts in overdoses that have occurred in other cities. This year, fentanyl or carfentanil killed a dozen people in Sacramento, nine people in Florida, and 23 people in about a month in Akron, Ohio. The list of cities goes on: New Haven, Conn.; Columbus, Ohio; Barre, Vt.

But what happened in Huntington stands out in other ways. It underlines the potential of a mysterious substance to unleash wide-scale trauma and overwhelm a city’s emergency response. And it suggests that a community that is doing all the right things to combat a worsening scourge can still get knocked back by it.

“From a policy perspective, we’re throwing everything we know at the problem,” said Dr. James Becker, the vice dean for governmental affairs and health care policy at the medical school at Marshall University here. “And yet the problem is one of those that takes a long time to change, and probably isn’t going to change for quite a while.”

Surrounded by rolling hills packed with lush trees, Huntington is one of the many fronts in the fight against an opioid epidemic that is killing almost 30,000 Americans a year. But this city, state, and region are among the most battle-scarred.

West Virginia has the highest rate of fatal drug overdoses of any state and the highest rate of babies born dependent on opioids among the 28 states that report data. But even compared with other communities in West Virginia, Huntington sees above-average rates of heroin use, overdose deaths, and drug-dependent newborns. Local officials estimate up to 10 percent of residents use opioids improperly.

The heroin problem emerged about five years ago when authorities around the country cracked down on “pill mills” that sent pain medications into communities; officials here specifically point to a 2011 Florida law that arrested the flow of pills into the Huntington area.

As the pills became harder to obtain and harder to abuse, people turned to heroin. It has devoured many communities in Appalachia and beyond.

In Huntington, law enforcement initially took the lead, with police arresting hundreds of people. They seized thousands of grams of heroin. But it wasn’t making a dent. So in November 2014, local leaders established an office of drug control policy.

“As far as numbers of arrests and seizures, we were ahead of the game, but our problem was getting worse,” said Jim Johnson, director of the office and a former Huntington police officer. “It became very obvious that if we did not work on the demand side just as hard as the supply side, we were never going to see any success.”

The office brought together law enforcement, health officials, community and faith leaders, and experts from Marshall to try to tackle the problem together.

Changes in state law have opened naloxone dissemination to the public and protected people who report overdoses. But the city and its partners have gone further, rolling out programs through the municipal court system to encourage people to seek treatment. One program is designed to help women who work as prostitutes to feed their addiction. Huntington has eight of the state’s 28 medically assisted detox beds, and they’re always full.

Also, in 2014, a center called Lily’s Place opened in Huntington to wean babies from drugs. Last year, the local health department launched this conservative state’s first syringe exchange. The county, health officials know, is at risk for outbreaks of HIV and hepatitis C because of shared needles, so they are trying to get ahead of crises seen in other communities afflicted by addiction.

“Huntington just happens to have taken ownership of the problem, and very courageously started some programs … that have been models for the rest of the state,” said Kenneth Burner, the West Virginia coordinator for the Appalachia High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program.

‘A revolving door’

While paramedics in the area have carried naloxone for years, it was this spring that Huntington police officers were equipped with it. Just a few officers have administered it, but Monday was Brinegar’s third time reviving overdose victims with naloxone.

Paramedics, who first try reviving victims by pumping air with a bag through a mask, had to administer another 10 doses of naloxone Monday. Three doses went to one person, said Gordon Merry, the director of Cabell County Emergency Services. During the response, ambulances from stations outside Huntington were called into the city to assist the eight or so response teams already deployed.

Merry was clearly proud of the response, but also frustrated. He was tired, he said, of people whom emergency crews revived going back to drugs. Because of the power of their disease, saving their lives didn’t get at the root of their addiction.

“It’s a revolving door. We’re not solving the problem past reviving them,” he said. “We gave 26 people another chance on life, and hopefully one of those 26 will seek help.”

In the part of town where half the overdoses happened, some homes are well-kept, with gardens, bird feeders, and American flags billowing. “Home Sweet Home,” read an engraved piece of wood above one front door; in another front yard, a wooden sculpture presented a bear holding a fish with “WELCOME” written across its body.

But many structures are decrepit and have their windows blacked out with cardboard and sheets. At one boarded-up house, the metal slats that once made up an overhang for the front porch split apart and warped as they collapsed, like gnarled teeth. On the plywood that covered a window frame was a message spelled out in green dots: GIRL SCOUTS RULE.

In and around the public housing complex, which is made up of squat two-story brick buildings sloping up a hill, people either said they did not know what had happened Monday, or that “lowlifes” in another part of the complex sparked the problem. Even as paramedics were responding to the overdoses, police started raiding residences as part of their investigation, including apartments at the complex, the chief said.

Just up the hill, a man named Bill was sitting on a recliner on his front porch with his cat. He said he saw the police out in the area Monday, but doesn’t pay much attention to overdoses anymore. They are so frequent.

Bill, who is retired, asked to be identified only by his first name because he said he has a son in law enforcement. He has lived in that house for five decades and started locking his door only in recent years. His neighbors’ house had been broken into, and he had seen people using drugs in cars across the street from his house. He called the police sometimes, he said, but the users were always gone by the time the police arrived.

“I hate to say this, but you know, I’d let them die,” Bill said. “If they knew that no one was going to revive them, maybe they wouldn’t overdose.”

Even here, where addiction had touched so many lives, it’s not an uncommon sentiment. Addiction is still viewed by some as a bad personal choice made by bad people.

“Some folks in the community just didn’t care” that 26 of their fellow residents almost died, said Matt Boggs, the executive director of Recovery Point.

Recovery Point is a long-term recovery program that teaches “clients” to live a life without drugs or alcohol. Boggs himself is a graduate of the program, funded by the state and donations and grants.

The clients live in bunk rooms at the facility for an average of more than seven months before graduating. The program says that about two-thirds of graduates stay sober in the first year after graduation, and about 85 percent of those people are sober after two years.

Local officials praise Recovery Point, but like many other recovery programs, it is limited in what it can do. It has 100 beds for men at its location in Huntington, and is expanding at other sites in the state, but Boggs said there’s a waiting list of a couple hundred people.

Mike Thomas, 30, graduated from the main part of the program a month ago and is working as a peer mentor there as he transitions out of the facility. Thomas has been clean since Oct. 15, 2015, but has dreams about getting high or catches himself thinking he could spare $100 from his bank account for drugs.

Thomas hopes to find a full-time job helping addicts. His own recovery will be a lifelong process, one that can be torn apart by a single bad decision, he said. He will always be in recovery, never recovered.

“I’m not cured,” he said.

Heroin Huntington WV
Mike Thomas, 30, is a recent graduate of the Recovery Point program and is now working as a peer mentor there.

A killer that doesn’t discriminate

As heroin has bled into communities across the country, it has spread beyond the regular drug hotbeds in cities. On a 2004 map of drug use in Huntington — back then, mostly crack cocaine — a few blocks of the city glow red. Almost the entire city glows in yellows and reds on the 2014 map.

In 2015, there were more than 700 drug overdose calls in Huntington, ranging from kids in their early teens to seniors in their late 70s. In 2014, it was 272 calls; in 2012, 146. One bright spot: fatal overdoses, which stood at 58 in 2015, have ticked down so far this year.

“I used to be able to say, ‘We need to focus here,’” said Scott Lemley, a criminal intelligence analyst at the police department. “I can’t do that anymore.”

Heroin hasn’t just dismantled geographic barriers. It has infiltrated every demographic.

“It doesn’t discriminate. Prominent businessmen, their child. Police officers, their child. Doctors, their child,” Merry said. “The businessman and police officer do not have their child anymore.”

The businessman is Teddy Johnson. His son, Adam, died in 2007 when he was 22, one of a dozen people who died in a five-month period because of an influx of black-tar heroin. The drug hadn’t made its full resurgence into the region yet, but now, Johnson sees the drug that killed his son everywhere.

Huntington - Teddy Johnson
Heroin Huntington WV
Teddy Johnson lost his son, Adam, in 2007 to a heroin overdose. He has several tattoos dedicated to Adam’s memory.

He runs a plumbing, heating, and kitchen fixture and remodeling business. From his storefront, he has witnessed deals across the street.

Adam, who was a student at Marshall, was a musician and artist who hosted radio shows. He was the life of any party, his dad said.

Johnson was describing Adam as he sat at the marble countertop of a model kitchen in his business last week. With the photos of his kids on the counter, it felt like a family’s home. Johnson explained how he still kept Adam’s bed made, how he kept his son’s room the same, and then he began to cry.

“The biggest star in the sky we say is Adam’s star,” he said. “When we’re in the car — and it can’t be this way — but it always seems to be in front of us, guiding us.”

Adam’s grave is at the top of a hill near the memorial to the 75 people — Marshall football players, staff, and fans — who died in a 1970 plane crash. It’s a beautiful spot that Johnson visits a few times each week, bringing flowers and cutting the grass around his son’s grave himself. Recently a note was left there from a couple Johnson knows who just lost their son to an overdose; they were asking Adam to look out for their son in heaven.

But even here, at what should be a respite, Johnson can’t escape what took his son. He said he has seen deals happen in the cemetery, and he recently found a burnt spoon not more than 20 feet from his son’s grave.

Heroin Huntington WV
Johnson keeps fresh flowers on his son’s grave and cuts the grass around the grave himself.

“I’ve just seen too much of it,” he said.

If Huntington doesn’t have a handle on heroin, at least the initiatives are helping officials understand the scale of the problem. More than 1,700 people have come through the syringe exchange since it opened, where they receive a medical assessment and learn about recovery options. The exchange is open one day a week, and in less than a year, it has distributed 150,000 clean syringes and received 125,000 used syringes.

But to grow and sustain its programs, Huntington needs money, officials say. The community has received federal grants, and state officials know they have a problem. But economic losses and the collapse of the coal industry that fueled the drug epidemic have also depleted state coffers.

“We have programs ready to launch, and we have no resources to launch them with,” said Dr. Michael Kilkenny, the physician director of the Cabell-Huntington Health Department. “We’re launching them without resources, because our people are dying, and we can’t tolerate that.”

In some ways, Huntington is fortunate. It has a university with medical and pharmacy schools enlisted to help, and a mayor’s office and police department collaborating with public health officials. But what does that herald then for other communities?

“If I feel anxious about what happens in Huntington and in Cabell County, I cannot imagine what it must be like to live in one of these other at-risk counties in the United States, where they don’t have all those resources, they don’t have people thinking about it,” said Dr. Kevin Yingling, the dean of the Marshall University School of Pharmacy.

Yingling, Kilkenny, and others were gathered on Friday afternoon to talk about the situation in Huntington, including the rash of overdoses. But by then, there was already a different incident to discuss.

A car had crashed into a tree earlier that afternoon in Huntington. A man in the driver seat and a woman in the passenger seat had both overdosed and needed naloxone to be revived. A preschool-age girl was in the back seat.

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  • Sad as these are, the story that matters is the over-prescibing of opioids that leads so easily to abuse, then addiction.

    • No offense but you sound like a parrot to me. Or, like someone who’s in the medical community and/or someone with an alternative motive.

      Sure, there were a handful of doctors that over prescribed at one time but that was resolved years ago. It is true. Pill mills have not been an ubiquitous issue for quite a while now.

      Also, no one knows why some people become addicted and some do not. A person could have been given a reasonable 3 to 7 day prescription for post op pain and then BOOM! They’re craving more or they actually do end up with chronic pain and are not believed which creates a whole other problem for the patient and doctor.

      I guess what I am saying is please don’t believe everything you hear on tv, in the news, and such. There’s always a hidden agenda to these things.

      The new maximum dose laws are now hurting far, far more people than what pill mills had done. Everyone is not the same and some people require more medication than others. Especially those who’s brain chemistry was changed by higher than usual doses.

    • Absolutely, told it isn’t addictive? Fentanyl = Endone= Percocet = oxycodone and about another 15 names, is heroin. Except if it is marketed by a pharma company, all of a sudden it isn’t addictive, and they even now prescribe this to kids. Sackler family, blood of the innocents on their hands, all pharma companies are the same. They want “”repeat customers”” in the other world it is called addicts. These poor people are ordinary mums and dads, grannies, kids, you have any pain? guaranteed a script of heroin (ooops fentanyl).

  • No one ever talks about stopping the supply. Where does heroin come from? 90% from Afghanistan. Who patrols Afghanistan and controls the air traffic out and most of the road traffic? People paid by the US government. Who made it policy to stop supporting opium eradication in Afghanistan? President Obama, in 2009. We need a whole lot of this explained by our government. This epidemic really could be stopped, it if was not so lucrative.

    • I also support your theory of government involvement in making people of USA drug dependent. I think people of USA should come together and create more cohesive society and well-bonded interdependence… and biggest road block to all this is American obsession with privacy and guns… which I think people of this country should give up in the large interest of the society….

    • Dr. Nass,

      You’re exactly right and I agree with you 100%.
      Someone is in cahoots with someone and it’s all about the greenbacks!
      Meanwhile, legit chronic pain patients (like myself), who’ve been taking reasonable doses and who have been functioning are going to be forced to the streets. The sad part is the government knows this and quote simply does NOT care.

      What I see, in part, happening is patients being titrated down to the state max and then eventually (07/18) having everything taken from them will turn to the streets and will think they’re buying pharmacology grade pills – b/c counterfeit pills look just like rx pills – and so, the chronic pain person will think they can still take the dose they had been taking for years not realizing the pill IS counterfeit and laced with Fentenyl and then … bam! Dead. Nice way to cull the herd Mr. President/CDC/DHS/DEA … Ect.

  • Here’s the deal. What’s going on in Huntington is going on all over. Heroin and heroin-based drugs, are being driven by three things: The proliferation of low-level dealers who are all at the bottom of the pond feeding off the addicts and competing for dollars, willing to kill, if necessary, to get the last dollar out of somebody’s pocket. Then, there’s the lame reaction to all this by forcing EMS and police to carry NARCAN to provide a shot to those who have over-dosed in hopes of “saving their lives,” as if that’s not about the most warped sense of humor out there right now. And, third, the liberals pushing this issue around like a baby in a buggy, “Oh, look how cute!,” to get taxpayers to get on board with government-paid rehab so the insurance companies can recover some of their losses from Obamacare. Yep, it’s all that simple and that cynical, people.
    Since heroin addicts relapse about 8 times, this is a built-in money-maker for all three groups: The low-level drug dealers, the company producing NARCAN, and the insurance companies who could see a junkie in rehab up to 8 times, courtesy of Uncle Sam.
    “Just say no” is looking better each day.

    • I’m a progressive–your “liberal” I guess. There is nothing “cute” about addiction. I’ve been in medicine for 40 plus years and I don’t understand addiction. I had a front row seat with my husband. West Point grad. Served with distinction for 20 years–then got his PhD in IT. But he came from a family of addicts. Parents addicted to alcohol and cigarettes. Every child addicted to alcohol, marijuana, cigarettes. Their kids in jail for heroin and cocaine. My husband tried to escape it by going to West Point–by getting involved in technology–teaching at a private university–but the NEED for alcohol and drugs was ALWAYS THERE! “Where can I find marijuana? Can you get me a script for oxycodone?” He stole pain pills from friends at their homes. It was all consuming! He’d get involved in turning face to face classes to online learning. I got him private instruction for golf and tennis lessons–set him up with guys to golf each week–got him into tennis tournaments each weekend. Got him a great dog to take for walks–got him into cooking gourmet dinners!

      Nothing! Nothing took the place of that deep craving for drugs! I got him into a civilian AND an army psychiatrist and internists. They tried anti-depressants–said he had ADD and gave him Adderall! When he drank he was abusive–I was in the ER a LOT for injuries. They arrested him, but he got off. His family was just as bad–any drug–they took it.

      I PLEADED with his doctors–hospitalize him! Do something! But he would lie about his drug use..he was a West Point grad! A high ranking officer!! They gave him a phone number for day rehab–he threw it away–he did NOT see he had a problem!!

      Greg’s dead. Overdosed away from home—body not found for four months!! I went crazy trying to find him. His three brothers–also dead.

      I do NOT understand the craving. I have seen terrible gambling addiction. But drugs kill. Until we understand this horrible disease and it IS a disease we will keep seeing deaths. They WILL find drugs. Trying to stop the supply does NOT work!

  • The article says nothing about medically assisted treatment in W Va. If people don’t have access to this, here and everywhere, this will only keep happening.

    • It’s not the responsibility of American taxpayers to pay for someone’s decision to become a drug addict. Who doesn’t know by now that heroin is a death sentence, cocaine is right behind it, and pot makes you stupid?

    • 3 things:
      1. The proliferation of low-level drug dealers who all run at the bottom of the pond with everyone else. They will kill, if necessary, to get that last buck out of a junkie’s pocket.
      2. The government-mandated NARCAN shot which some states now require all EMS to carry and to provide a shot to help stop a fatal overdose.
      3. The liberals and their incessant obsession with all things socialist: Get taxpayers to fund rehab for drug addicts and give to the heath insurance companies who are losing money hand-over-fist with Obamacare. Got to find a sure-fire market niche. How about drug addicts?

      Given how many times a heroin addict relapses, this is a ready-made repeat profitable market for all the above.

    • The “Cause.” Those of us in medicine know that addiction is a disease. Just as real as heart disease or cancer.
      It is not a “choice.” Not a “weakness” or “character fault.”

      In America until we truly see this as a disease that needs REAL intervention we will keep seeing death. The “war on drugs” was a fiasco. If we decided that food needed to be stopped–would that stop people from finding food? Believe me…finding drugs is MORE important than eating!
      We have to grow up. Quit being so judgmental! If you are not an addict you don’t understand the incredible craving. But we don’t put money into research because we moral Christian americans see it as a character fault–“Just say no.” What an ignorant, uneducated comment!

      From now on when a person with Multiple Sclerosis gets to the point they can’t walk–we’ll say “NO wheelchair for you!! Get up and walk!! You lazy person!!”

      I lost my West Point educated husband to addiction–it’s a horrific disease. Anyone who drinks alcohol understands craving–“Bad day at the office–man I NEED A DRINK!”
      But that’s socially acceptable. WHY DO YOU NEED A DRINK? Think about it! Just as you need alcohol some people NEED opiates! Our brain HAS opiate receptors–we are ready to get opiates!

      We have GOT to study this disease! Please! I lost my spouse to this awful addiction and also lost my wonderful brothers-in-law.

  • Again, a story with the wrong diagnosis to the problem. It’s not the drugs that kill them, it’s their lack of knowledge about dosage, their stigmatization in society, and the lack of opportunities in these economically devastated areas.

    Opioids most certainly top the list of most problematic drugs (after alcohol), but many of these problems are much more preventable if we as a society stop saying that drug use is some sort of moral failure. Comments like these showcase an impressive lack of compassion and ignorance:

    “I hate to say this, but you know, I’d let them die,” Bill said. “If they knew that no one was going to revive them, maybe they wouldn’t overdose.”

    In the Netherlands, where I live, we have all but solved the heroin epidemic. By educating people about their use, giving them shelter and even giving the worst addicts free state-funded heroin. It’s probably un-American, but it solved the problem.

    There are many sons and daughters alive today because of it. Nothing else is important.

    • “In the Netherlands, where I live, we have all but solved the heroin epidemic. By educating people about their use, giving them shelter and even giving the worst addicts free state-funded heroin. It’s probably un-American, but it solved the problem.”

      The Netherland is the size of a postage stamp. No disrespect. but I fail to see how keeping people supplied in state-issued heroin is heroic. The person is still an addict. The U.S. was founded on a silly concept of individual freedom AND individual responsibility. You cannot have one without the other. Doesn’t work.

      “The problem with socialism is eventually you run out of other people’s money.” Margaret Thatcher

    • The Netherlands might be a postage stamp, but can be best compared to a city like LA, but bigger. What if LA solved it’s opioid problem? Wouldn’t that warrant some investigation?

      If you’re interested how it works, here’s a story I did on it: https://news.vice.com/article/only-in-the-netherlands-do-addicts-complain-about-free-government-heroin

      The whole idea of people becoming addicts and staying addicts the rest of their lives is also a flawed concept. The 12-step program might be the preferred method in the United States, the science behind it is actually very weak. Relapse rates (a term by itself already passing judgement) are huge. It works for only a portion of the population.

      I see people here talking about taking out supply – that has been tried for decades, we call it the War on Drugs. It has been a failure of epic proportions.

      Best thing you can tell an addict is to stop shooting up and start smoking or swallowing. And after that, educate them about what drugs are and how they work. Then, try and see what the actual problems in someone’s life.

      It’s not the drug use itself that should be our main concern. It’s the overdoses that kill people.

  • Simply brilliant reporting. Thank you for this incredible profile of valiant Huntington doing its best to stem the tide of death and misery brought on by heroin and the synthetics. WV is a hardscrabble state that has always suffered from lack of employment and substance abuse epidemics, but they are loving and resilient too. I grew up in a neighboring state, so I have great respect for WV and know that they can be a great laboratory for positive change and innovative programs. So glad that in the case of Huntington, they have nearby Marshall University to help out. A first rate regional college.

  • This story says opioid misuse doesn’t discriminate. But the stats say that it often does: while it’s not hard to find a well-off suburban teen or a pop star who developed an addiction, the vast majority of overdoses continue to occur among poorer Americans with lower levels of education, in areas with fewer job opportunities, and/or among people who have a history of mental illness or substance abuse.

    I was surprised to discover that this story barely touches on the underlying socioeconomic issues that afflict a small city in West Virginia like the one described here. There are compelling details here, but a big hole as well. It’s easier to headline a story of a one-size-fits-all epidemic, but many Americans are far less susceptible to misuse of these drugs than this story implies.

    It’s crucial to tell the underlying socioeconomic story of the opioid abuse crisis, which doesn’t admit of easy solutions, and it’s crucial to not keep giving those in and out of the healthcare establishment the notion that opioid addiction is as easy to “catch” as the common flu. For many patients, it’s not. This and a series of other related misconceptions about opioid misuse can lead to some terrible unintended consequences.

    • Jacob,

      Thank you for pointing out the huge hole in this story! Actually, in the current entire story that’s be thrown at people in every television show, movie and newscast… opioids are evil!! Opioids kill. If YOU take an opioid for pain you WILL become addicted!

      In reality very FEW people who have acute and/or chronic pain ever become addicted from a prescription when used for actual pain.

      When patients LIE to doctors about family history of drug abuse or their own history and then receive a rx for an opioid they’re at somewhat more of a risk. But, even then the risk is still lower than what tv and those behind tv would have the Gen Pop believe.

      Chronic pain, addiction, and depression utilize the same neuropathways. Therefore, it is unlikely that someone who’s experiencing pain will become addicted.

      Jacob, I love your analogy… it does seem like many in the Gen Pop think that opioid addiction can be caught like a flu bug.

      The brainwashing and hidden agenda are in full swing…. let the suffering commence.

      The drug war needs to end. It’s proven futile over the last 40 years! Education… “Say KNOW to drugs”.

      “Prohibition… goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man’s appetite by legislation and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes… A prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded.”
      – Abraham Lincoln

      From the outset this has been a war on people. One that primarily targets ( low income ) ethic groups.

      Ok. So, keeping people addicts for life in the way the Netherlands has done may not seem logical to some or even many. But, rather they are given the “medicine” or “drug” they need via government funds or not they WILL be addicts for life regardless. Addiction is for life. A recovering alcoholic is Always one drink away from relapse. So, why not teach addicts about safe doses?, give them sage access to “reliable” drugs, and not heroine laced with Fentenyl or lord knows what.

      To truly end or abate addiction we need to get to the root of why people self medicate. Having a J.ust O.ver B.roke is depressing. People simply want to live better than pay check to pay check. Depression runs deep. Addiction runs deeper. The soul needs repair. This is where we should’ve begun.

      END Prohibition NOW! Instead, use the trillions on education, needle exchanges, disease testing, condom programs, conseling, and so forth.

      Regulate illicit drugs. The cartel would lose control. Tax the drugs. Local and Federal gov(s) would have a boatload of money to feed people, start programs for addicts etc etc. The sin tax would cover the user’s medical needs when they arise.

  • I too lost my 16 year old son, 7years ago, at the early stages of black tar heroin, he was living in Tucson, Arizona at the time with his father for a time,it was a complete shock to everyone, I was told heroin was the quickest and cheapest way to become addicted to anything! 2 weeks out, he was attending groups, getting ready to come back home to me, and the night before he passed, he called me , told me he loved me over & over, told he was doing good, but had this feeling he wasn’t gonna live long, he said maybe his early 30s or so, of course frightened me, but little did I know that was my last conversation with my baby boy, here on this earth, I later found out, in his system was morphine , they said aproximtly 10mgs. , which they believe is what stopped his heart, due to being clean for such a time period, it shocked his heart! I know this is not exactly the same topic as this article, but I believe, facilities must make known ,the importance,of the effects of the bodies tolerance level after detoxifying! This epidemic gets me so frustrated, saddened, angry, and sympathetic for all that’s involved, I have to honestly say, my true strength, hope and healer came from, The all Mighty God & his saving power, because, I truly believe with him, YOU CAN WIN THIS BATTLE AND LIVE IN TRUE VICTORY & FREEDOM!! AMEN

  • This is a really good article. It highlights some of the problems of the area attributed to the struggle of the drug epidemic. Kudos to the author!

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