'I'm scared, Mom,' Mike said over the phone. 'I'm scared and I need help.' My 21-year-old son, Mike, was talking to me from a drug-infested motel a few miles away from his college in Vermont. After hours of me trying to track him down, I was overcome with emotions of relief, fear, denial, and shame.
Risk of death from overdosing on heroin or other opioids such as Vicodin or OxyContin goes up substantially after periods of refraining from drug use. Quantities that once brought pleasure can be fatal after a period of abstinence. The research shows that individuals leaving jail or prison are particularly vulnerable.
The son carried diagnoses of anxiety and depression and had been prescribed the usual culprits: antidepressants, tranquilizers, antipsychotics, and probably an anticonvulsant or two from the creative thinker who deduced bipolar disorder from the mélange. The father was bewildered by all of it. He knew heroin was the enemy, responsible for all the ravages. But why couldn't his son stay clean?
Something that has come out of the increased awareness of heroin addiction is a newfound interest with the controversial drug naloxone that can reverse the side effects and overdoses of opioids. It is a right move that more states are giving police and first responders' access to this drug, but it is one that comes with a lot of controversy.
For the second year in a row, an international groundswell of activists have organized a Global Day of Action. In addition to the thousands of actions around the world focusing on various aspects of the failed drug war, drug policy reform advocates will be taking their protest right to the source: the UN Headquarters in New York.