Overdose rates are skyrocketing right now. In Louisville, Kentucky there were 151 overdose calls in 4 days. Part of the reason is because heroin is being cut with fentanyl now, as this article describes.
Let me say something about fentanyl. Oh wait. I can't. I don't have the vocabulary to describe something that's more potent than heroin. Think about the stigma that's attached to heroin. Just the mention of the word makes most people picture a dead person with a needle still stuck in their arm.
Years ago, when I was in my disease, the only people I knew with fentanyl prescriptions were people who were dying. Literally. Now it's everywhere. When I had 3 years clean and sober, I had a surgery where I was given intravenous fentanyl before I was sent home. I felt like there had been a prehistoric beast lying dormant inside of me who just got woken up. Now the beast was awake; angry, hungry and demanding my attention. Unfortunately, because I had let my program of recovery fall by the wayside (I stupidly thought I was cured), I eventually succumbed to the demands of the beast. Fentanyl is a drug so powerful that it can turn someone who isn't even necessarily an addict into a fiend.
The myriad questions I have about who is profiting from keeping addicts in their disease don't matter right now. What matters is overdose awareness. When I was "in my addiction" we had to be trained in Naloxone administration in order to receive clean syringes. Most street junkies on 16th and Mission here in San Francisco have an opioid overdose rescue kit. I think it's time for anyone who has a heroin addict in their life get trained in overdose reversal.
One of the most common ways for a heroin addict to die has always been this: relapsing after putting together a few months of clean time. This is because our tolerance begins to lower once we are no longer on a maintenance program. The amount we used to ingest simply to get well, can now be lethal. Add the fentanyl infused heroin to the mix and you do the math.
I have reversed 4 overdoses in my life. Even though I am clean and sober and living an entirely different kind of life than the one I was living when administered Naloxone to someone, I still have an opioid overdose rescue kit. I believe we all should. This disease will always exist and sadly, opiate addiction is becoming more common.
Listen to tomorrow's show with Savannah O'Neill, an Overdose Prevention & Naloxone Distribution Coordinator, to learn more about overdose reversal.
Now imagine if Prince's bodyguards had a opioid overdose rescue kit.
You can hear Dayna's Radio Rehab Show on iTunes & Stitcher Radio: