This is a highly irresponsible article that minimizes the dangers of using heroin and other powerful opioids. We do many stupid things when we feel low, anxious, despondent, and then regret the action. For 100,000 people the regret came too late. Imagine, if a person in the present times had used heroin laced with fentanyl, it could have potentially resulted in an overdose death. Maia conveniently omits telling the readers how difficult it was for her to overcome the addiction to heroin and cocaine. She had the support from her family. There are tens of thousands of patients using drugs and alcohol for a variety of reasons and they are desperate to get off the drug. What hope can we give them? Do we tell them we are going to keep you alive by offering you either methadone or buprenorphine and leave them to their wits to find ‘healthy connections’?
Maia’s message should have been: Please don’t do what I did – I almost lost my life. There are better ways to feel warm and comforted. Sticking a needle in your arm is not the way to go!
The history of addicting drugs and substances is replete with misinformation. The dangers of smoking were ignored for decades. Cocaine when used by Whites was supposed to be only psychologically addicting, but became a criminal activity when Blacks used ‘crack’. Benzodiazepines were the cure for alcoholism and ‘Mama’s Little Helper’. More recently, opioids were safe to treat ‘chronic’ pain. Now we are being told that as long people have access to syringes and naloxone, opioids are safe to use.
I am surprised that the NYT would even publish such an irresponsible article coming on the heals of the 100,000 overdose deaths in a 12-month period. We need more education on the dangers of drug use and develop robust programs to help those addicted to drugs and an equally robust program to prevent overdoses.
Percy Menzies, M. Pharm. is the president of Assisted Recovery Centers of America (ARCA), an integrated treatment center for addictive disorders and mental health based in St Louis. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.