How bad is the heroin epidemic? It's so bad news sites like thedailybeast.com are printing articles on how to survive it. Actual guides on how not to die during the heroin epidemic. It's a wake-up call for America. In this how-to, written by someone who has experience using, facts are given, like how 18-25-year-old, white millennials are the ones who have upped the numbers of people dying from the drug in the past year. The author suggests studying that group to find out what their habits are. For instance, he says, "We covertly shoot up at suburban locales: a Wendy's parking lot, Starbucks bathrooms, our childhood bedrooms. In effect, we're insulated from life-saving services provided by syringe exchange programs (SEPs) that are commonly found in big cities."
Those SEPs are necessary everywhere today. Not only do they provide clean needles and cookers, they provide information, offer advice on safe practices and test for blood-borne diseases. Sociology professor and harm-reduction researcher Greg Scott offers this advice: "Get your hands on lots of naloxone, the opiate overdose antidote." Once the user has it, he encourages the user to give it to friends, family, anyone whose company the user might be in when they are using.
Next, he suggests not using alone, warning that no one would be there to save the user should they OD. Finally, he says, users should train those around them to be aware of what an overdose looks like and how to respond with naloxone and rescue breathing. An actual overdose looks like someone slipping off into sleep, in case you were not aware. It's not like scenes from the movies where they immediately die. And for those who do decide to get help, Kenneth Anderson, veteran of safe drug-using practices says, "We need methadone clinics for everyone paid for by the government." It's a model based on what the Swiss are doing and it's working, yielding dramatic reductions in overdoses and diseases.
Until we can find a cure for this epidemic, these are the unfortunate steps we must take. But much like what the Swiss are doing, all hope is not lost. With treatment and education a cure is possible.
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