"Real liberty is neither found in despotism or the extremes of democracy, but in moderate governments.
Alexander Hamilton

Thursday, August 3, 2017

"Addicts, families, doctors, cops all wonder: What works? Where do we go from here?"

Very timely report from Yahoo News in light of President Trumps recent comments on NH being a drug infested den. This is a story about Middletown, Ohio. The opioid problem is everywhere, no part of the country is a safe haven. In Middletown, as everywhere else, there does not seem to be any clear  answers.
I am convinced that it will be impossible to solve this problem if it continues to be a political football. Democrats and Republicans should not be accusing each other of not doing enough just to score political points. People are dying every day. NH should be an example to the rest of the nation

Emily de La Bruyère
Yahoo News
The opioid epidemic is a national crisis. But what does that mean? To answer that, Yahoo News traveled to Middletown, Ohio — a city once considered as ordinary as its name, more recently known for an explosion in opioid use — and explored quantitative research about drugs, health care, and national public opinion. This is a problem so serious that it requires big data, so human that it needs a face. Here is what we found:
Over years of hard work, Scott Weidle built up the Weidle Corporation — a sand, gravel and topsoil company in Germantown, Ohio — so he could pass it down to his son. But the day after Christmas in 2015, 30-year-old Daniel Weidle died of a heroin overdose. He was alone in his apartment. A prescription for pain pills had turned into addiction; inpatient therapy failed to keep him off drugs permanently; treatment with the opioid-blocker Vivitrol seemed to have worked a miracle until Daniel’s doctor left town without warning and his prescription ran out. The Weidles scrambled to find a new doctor to administer the monthly shot. They were turned away four times.
Scott’s sister-in-law Beth Genslinger deals with the loss of her son to heroin through community and communication. Scott looks for solutions. He argues that this is a solvable problem: “We have to stop the overexposure to medical opioids.” Since his son’s death, Scott Weidle has dedicated himself to lobbying Columbus for new legislation — in the form of the newly proposed Daniel’s Law — on opioid prescriptions, as well as increased treatment availabilityBut in Ohio, overprescription continues to be a problem.
Where do we go from here? Scott is rare for the clarity he brings to that question. The problem is daunting. It touches on any number of hot-button social issues: medicine, law, labor, economics, law enforcement. The cycle of addiction is too powerful. The costs appear prohibitive.
Clean for one month, eight months, and the better part of 18, respectively, Larry Fugate, Jack Barrett and Gene Robinson all stress the need for treatment. That means medicine: Suboxone or Vivitrol. It also means social support — for Jack, the tightknit community at Groups, his treatment center; for Gene, a fiancée who makes sure he takes his pills. They cite new centers, counseling services and helplines popping up in and around Middletown as signs of hope. But these work only for those who want treatment. A user has to have hit rock bottom before seeking help, Gene says. “You just hope rock bottom isn’t death.”
They are less certain when it comes to goals, and they don’t talk about costs. Jack is looking for jobs. Mostly he just wants to stay clean. What does he do with his time? “I mow the grass — try to stay busy.” Larry is interviewing with AK Steel. His mother hopes that he gets the night shift. It means he won’t have time to hang out with “people from the past.” And she worries even about that: AK Steel is not an easy place to work. An ex-boyfriend died of black lung from particulate exposure.
Jack, Larry, and Gene all rely on Medicaid for their treatment. “Trump’s going to be taking it away from us,” says Gene. “And then what’s going to happen to us?” They want to be able to pay back into the system. But for now, they can’t. The Groups executive director, Jeremy Carpenter, admits that in this world, “success is a very subjective term.”
And not everyone even believes in the possibility of success. Richard K. Jones, the Butler County sheriff is controversial for his hardline stance on immigration — and, more recently, for prohibiting his officers from carrying the anti-overdose drug Narcan. “I feel it’s dangerous,” he says. “You have to get down on your knees.” He says victims don’t like the police and might be violent (although overdose victims are more likely to be groggy and lethargic). His officers’ “job is not to die for this person who chose to shoot drugs.” Jones also insists that treatment has no effect. “They’ll tell you how successful they are. They aren’t.” According to him, we can’t save the addicts. The only option is prevention — education, crackdown on suppliers, a border wall. (When Scott Weidle hears this he snorts: “Trump’s wall is not going to do a damn thing about it.” He argues that drug traffickers just mail the drugs. “They’ll fly right over the wall.”)
Does Middletown just wait — and hope? Under a thin layer of obfuscation, that seems to be what Mayor Mulligan suggests. He’ll keep hosting summits and funding overdose runs, as he has for the better part of the past four years. But — as with crack and meth before — this epidemic will just have to run its course. At the fire station, the captain says, sighing: “I don’t know if there’s an answer.” All he can do is keep showing up, keep saving people and keep hoping that something works.
The one thing everyone — the sheriff included — agrees on is the need for public education. People need to know what addiction looks like and how easily it happens. But education can go only so far. Over free breakfast at a local church, a slouching woman explains that she grew up in a family of users. She watched them tear their lives apart. She promised herself that she would never do drugs. But then her mother died. She was being molested. She was suicidal. Her uncle sold heroin: It was an easy escape. Now she is in intensive outpatient treatment. She has three children. She hopes that they will learn from her example not to use.
Standing outside the memorial park that they have built for Daniel, Scott Weidle and his wife, Carrie, stress that this is a human tragedy — and a disease — that we cannot ignore. They believe you have to keep fighting the battle, with whatever it takes. The only people who feel otherwise are those who haven’t been affected personally. “But,” Carrie sighs, “they will be.”
Emily de La Bruyère has written for the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Huffington Post, and the Daily Beast. She is a student at Sciences Po in Paris on the Michel David-Weill fellowship.


Dave Rossetti said...

Interesting that after growing up in NH and not only not ever using heroin, but also having never seen it. I have to ask, where is it all coming from? It is not coming in the mail, Cessna planes or the trunk of some illegal aliens car. With the trouble we as a nation are experiencing it must be coming in great quantities somehow through our borders. My wife has a 29 year old nephew who will most likely die in prison as through the last 10 years of my marriage I have known this kid to be out of prison for about a year and a half, not all at once , but a few months at a time. Then he lands back in the pokey due to his heroin use. One of the times he was out and attending a family function, I had the opportunity to ask him where he got the heroin. His response leaves the rational person scratching their head. Know that this young man, when not in prison resides in Tilton. His answer was "Moultonborough". The Road way hotel at Greens corner. They always have it and the best prices he continued. Now one has to ask the question, if I now know where the best place to get heroin is and now everybody reading this now knows where the best place to get heroin is, why does the law enforcement community NOT know where the best place to get heroin is. Seems to me that there are two basic answers to that question. One would be that we as a society employ completely incompetent people within the law enforcement community who appear on the surface to only be able to write speeding tickets to soccer moms using $70,000 cruisers OR, somebody is making money on it, like the police. Exhausting my tax dollars on the sublime and ridiculous BS feel good programs that only perpetuate the destruction of America's youth is extremely counter productive for us, the people. This operational philosophy is only maintaining the councilors who produce absolutely NOTHING while perpetuating the problem under the pretense of finding a solution. Shoveling money at this is just stupid and a phenomenal waste of OUR youth, resources and future.
20 years ago we were not using heroin as we had the ability to "feel good" about ourselves through our hobbies and creativity. We no longer allow our children these opportunities as we have made most of the things my friends and I did illegal.
So in closing, President Trump is 100% correct. NH is a complete train wreck with heroin. Try to get a professional to do something for you. You can't as the only people who are not a train wreck are to old to work fast, I know as I am one of them. So I will continue to capitalize on this reality, much like the "drug courts", free taxi rides to useless counseling programs, the police state that continues to break up our families, and public education that will continue to destroy any and all hope for the future of America's youth.

P.S. and yes I am aware that the "Road way hotel is now defunct and my story a little dated, however I maintain it is true to the best of my knowledge.

Moultonboro Blogger said...

Dave, I doubt we will ever see eye to eye on our Police dept. I think they do a great job sometimes under very difficult situations and I have personally had nothing but positive interactions and is now going back nearly 15 years we have been in town.
Heroin is a component of the issue. Dealers "cut" heroin with Fentanyl which is used primarily because it is relatively easy and cheap to make. Fentanyl can be 100 times more potent than morphine, so people who think they are snorting pure heroin or cocaine are sometimes very unlucky, kind of like playing Russian roulette, and ingest mixtures that may be more Fentanyl than anything else and they overdose and often die. That is only one example of the complexity of the problem. Pills like Oxycontin are also compounded within our borders and sold as " prescription" pills. The real potency and mixture is unknown making these drugs very dangerous.
The long and short is that the problem is heavily within our borders already and is not just a question of drugs coming from a foreign country.
I would agree that feel good programs are useless, but strongly disagree with Trump in labeling our state a drug infested den. It is fundamentally wrong for him to conclude or even insinuate that he "won" NH ( he of course didn't ) because of the drug crisis. Building a wall or closing the borders will not address the root causes.