I’m A Former Heroin Addict Who OD’d 3 Times — The New Ohio Law Would've Left Me For Dead

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Self

Who are you — or anyone else — to decide who lives and who dies?

October 27, 2005, A day like any other. The sun rose and it set just like it would any place else.

I woke up that morning in a bug infested drug house on a dirty couch full of garbage crawling with roaches. I would have eaten breakfast but I didn't want food. All I wanted to do was relieve myself of the pain and the withdrawal I was in.

My friends had given up on me, and family long abandoned me.

I had no hope, no way out, and all I wanted to do is take the pain away.

I wasn't interested in harming anybody. Yes, I robbed, stole, cheated, and committed many crimes as well as other terrible things to get my fix, but it wasn't because I wanted to get high and that I was selfish, I hated it.

Some of the things I did absolutely broke my heart while I did them, but I just didn't want to feel the horrible pain of the withdrawal that could quickly escalate so severely that it could be deadly, that nobody on the outside looking in could really ever comprehend or even begin to empathize with because they simply didn't know what it was like.

It wasn't a choice. 

 

Let me tell you about the time I died. 

I roll over and reach across the coffee table covered in beer cans and filthy cigarettes for a needle, a spoon, a belt, and a small baggie of brown dust to get rid of the pain of withdrawal that I was already facing.

I tie myself up, popping out an already infected vein in my arm, my right arm because the vein in my left arm is already blown out. I put the powder in the spoon with a couple drops of water and heat it up enough to be liquefied, draw the brown liquid with the syringe and then plunge the syringe into my vain.

Suddenly I realized everything was getting very dark and quiet. Too quiet. and everything went black.

I woke up about an hour later in a hospital bed strapped down to machinery with my sister sobbing beside me. She and the others really thought that this time was it, and it almost was.

I completely flat-lined for almost a minute and was actually pronounced dead by the physician, who just wrote me off as another dirty dead junkie, a worthless throwaway life that really didn't matter like he had seen a thousand times before.

Another doctor in the room didn't want to give up and hit me with Narcan and a defibrillator one more time.

If he hadn't, I wouldn't be telling this story today.  

 

I was the epitome of living fast ... 

A few years earlier, I had the world at my feet.

I was a real estate agent during the height of the housing boom in one of the hottest markets in the country. I was the role model. I was the successful one in my family. I was supposed to be going places and by all accounts I was.

I had an amazing life but also an addictive personality that honestly wasn't satisfied with it. So I explored other avenues to entertain myself. One of which was cocaine, which soon turned into heroin. 

You cannot chase the tail of the dragon once and give up. It simply doesn't work that way. Nobody can shoot dope one time and just stop.

From the second I put that first needle in my arm it was like surging a demon through my vascular system — and it would permanently alter my life forever.

And on that day, it nearly extinguished me.

Using heroin intravenously will give you the most amazing incredible euphoric high that one can ever experience, but It's so good it's destructive, and it will destroy everything around you including yourself.

After a while you realize things in your life start to slip away. You want out but you can't just leave. It owns you mind body and soul. You can't get away from it without serious help both physically and mentally.

And even though you want nothing more than to find a way out, the demon that is heroin has penetrated your organs and your bones. The mere shock your body will go through just from the withdraws can kill you. It can induce seizures, aneurysms, respiratory and/or cardiac arrest.

 

Junkies are human beings too. 

Kicking heroin is a long, horrifyingly painful process.

People who don't understand heroin addiction see the souls locked in their addiction as absolute garbage. Lowlifes that don't deserve to breathe air, taking up space or waste medications on that could go to "better" people. 

It's easier to turn a blind eye and let people die, all the while hating them over something they themselves simply misunderstand.  

The real truth is that people that end up heroin addicts are mostly very intelligent, intellectual, compassionate and loving people. Some of higher intelligence than the norm. And it's not just here say, it's fact.

Multiple studies have shown that highly intelligent people are more likely to use drugs. People with higher IQs tend to get bored easily and seek new experiences in life. They also tend to be open-minded and game to try just about anything once.

Some of history's greatest and prolific minds were also drug addicts. Charles Dickens, for example, was an opium addict. Howard Hughes, was an opiate addict. Sigmund Freud was a cocaine addict. Hard to believe, I know. Google it. As well as countless celebrities such as Kurt Cobain, Robert Downey Jr, Steven King the list goes on and on. 

However, there is a heroin epidemic that is sweeping the country like a killer tsunami drowning, wrecking, killing and destroying everything in its path, without any sign of dissipation in sight. Every city and state wants to rid themselves of heroin addicts. And they don't give a shit about the addict him or herself — they just want the problem to go away.

Hell, why not close your eyes and let them just die? They are disposable lives that really don't matter anyway, right? 

Well, one town in Ohio, Middletown, who's motto is "bright past, brighter future" is proposing just that. 

 

So, who decides who lives or dies? 

Every city has its challenges, Middletown happens to have a quickly escalating heroin epidemic on its hands, and city officials are trying to come up with a solution for this problem that nobody wants to deal with.

Rehabilitation centers? Nope. Therapy? Nope. Extra programs and assistance to help people stricken by this addiction to recover? No. Not at all.

However, they do have one ambitious and radical new solution though for the heroin epidemic and how to curb it, and it doesn't paint a vision of a "brighter future" in any way shape or form whatsoever. But yes, it may put a dent in the problem — not by helping, but ignoring.

As in literally ignoring it with a new "three-strike" policy for heroin addicts.

This new three-strike law, doesn't involve jail time, but administers the ultimate punishment: death. 

Neil Young once said "every junkie is a setting sun," and statistically, it's deadly accurate. And a horrifying number at that — as few as 20% heroin addicts actually manage to find their way out without either ending up dead, locked away in an asylum, trapped in addiction, or in jail for the rest of their lives for a crime they committed out of desperation.

As a truly grateful, recovering addict of 10 years who got a second chance at life, I have seen this heart-breaking painful statistic play out over and over.

I've watched countless friends die, one right before my eyes. I've lost co-workers, business partners, family members, and even a fiancee to this horror.

I can go on and on about my own war stories, but this isn't about me. It's about the citizens, family and children of Middletown, Ohio, whose lives will be ignored, crumpled and tossed away like a old hamburger wrapper with this new plan. 

 

Narcan saves lives ... but there's a cost.  

Under this new proposed plan, if an addict has two overdoses that require first responder rescue via ambulance and hasn't completed community service to pay for the first two shots of Narcan (the drug that can pull an addict out of death from overdose — and that saved my life three times) and the gas it costs to ride the paramedics, the city will refuse to dispatch emergency services to a third overdose.

They will refuse to dispatch because once they send EMS services, it's required by law for the paramedics to use the Narcan to save the person from death by opioid overdose.

But what if the 911 operator just doesn't tell EMS services there's someone dying of an overdose at such and such address?

If EMS doesn't know, than it's not illegal to willfully let people die because well, they didn't know.

"Hey, Sandy." "Yeah, Fred?" "There's a junkie dying in the gutter across the street. Hush now, don't let anyone know. Just let him die. We will be the only ones that know. It will be our little secret. Cool, right?" 

How evil, ugly, disgusting, despicable, and stupendously preposterously cruel of the city officials in Middletown, Ohio, to even have a passing thought of consideration for such a heinous terrible and tragic idea.

But still, it's not completely the frustrated city officials of Middletown's fault.

The pharmaceutical companies that manufacture Narcan are also to blame.

Well over 28,000 people died due to opiate overdose nationwide in 2014, according to the CDC. That is four times the number of deaths 15 years ago.

Narcan, the life saving antidote that can pull someone out of an overdose that has saved countless lives, is quite valuable, and the pharmaceutical firms that manufacture this are very much aware of that,. The makers are now making drug users and cities pay dearly by gouging prices on this life-saving medication

A pre-loaded syringe of Narcan only a few short years ago that was good for two doses cost $575. Today its $3,750. And it's not because of the materials cost anymore or anything like that.

Big Pharma raised the prices simply because they can. Nothing more and nothing less. It saves lives people's lives, desperate people's lives, so they can charge whatever they want for it because they can.

And this is frustrating city officials in towns like Middletown and pushing them to take drastic measures.

There is a generic for Narcan called Naloxone, which effectively does the exact same thing as Narcan and only costs $20 a dose. But for whatever reason municipalities cannot buy in bulk. Really, though, the main reason the generic is unavailable is because it "extends lives but does not save them" and is very close to FDA approval as over the counter medication but it will never be approved because well, money.

And some say a cheap generic will just enable heroin addicts to keep using with the safety net that will prevent them from dying of an overdose.

I wonder how the city officials and Big Pharma are going to explain refusal of this life-saving drug to the grief stricken heartbroken families of deceased addicts? To the desperate mothers screaming and crying holding their teenage sons and daughters as their lives drain out of their bodies, eyes roll back in their heads, and lips turn blue and die?

How many families will be forever changed and shattered over a simple single shot of medication that can and will save their loved ones lives?  

 

The third strike means EVERYTHING.  

Number 3 is important in a lot of ways.

Overdosing is very scary and a lot of people don't live through it without the help of Narcan.

The first overdose will scare an addict, but more than likely it won't change their behavior or mindset.

Overdose number 2, however, will be a wakeup call as it is an even closer brush with the abyss.

Number 3, however, is a life-changing event.

That is the point when most addicts realize they are going to die unless they stop and at least try to seek help.

Number 3 is what did it for me, as well as just about every other addict I've known who has survived during my now 10 years of sobriety.

Addicts deserve that third chance.

Their lives DO matter.

I know mine does, and so does my family, as well as countless other families with husbands, wives, mothers, daughters, aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers, and children who struggle with addiction, or that will sometime in the future.

10/27/2005 was my third strike.

It was my sick and tired of being sick and tired moment that planted a seed that eventually landed me in a medical detox in March of 2006, followed by some time spent in a sober community, which as a result allowed me to be blessed with a clean, sober, and successful life of which I never would have had the chance to live today. 

 

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