High Times In The Heart Land?

" High Times In The Heart Land ? "
Rev. Peter E. Bauer

Spring is here and along with warmer temperatures and budding trees, the primary election season has progressed now to the Midwest. Earlier this year, in New Hampshire, there was discussion regarding the epidemic of Heroin use. According to a recent article
Overdose deaths attributed to heroin, fentanyl (a powerful synthetic opiate at least 30 times stronger than heroin) and other opiate abuse has spiked from 14 in 2013 to 69 last year, according to city records. The grim numbers do not account for the hundreds of other non-fatal overdose calls that have flooded local public safety agencies, stressing the city's capacity to respond.
And in many places, streams of firearms also are emerging in dealer investigations, making the deadly mix even more lethal. Manchester Police Chief Nick Willard said some dealers are demanding payment in firearms, only to traffic the guns to strict gun-control states like New York where criminals are willing to pay a premium. 'It is an apocalypse,'' according to Chief Willard. Heroin overdoses take their toll in NH's largest city | New...www.unionleader.com/Heroin_overdoses_ta...
So what has brought on this serious increase in Heroin use ? One wonders if the continuing challenges of improving economic conditions in the United States since September 11, 2001 along with the ever-present reality of poverty, unavailability of affordable housing and the lack of employment are not salient elements contributing to this crisis ?
After fifteen plus years of non-stop war, we are seeing the financial and human consequences effecting our society. Communities large and small have been felt financial repercussions: cuts in social services, including drug treatment have occurred. The numbers of people living below the poverty level has increased . Although the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC ) has helped some people, a lot of people know well that they cannot afford to live on the current minimum wage. The prohibitive cost of higher education is another barrier creating an obstacle for those who wish to rise from being poor.
The town of Austin, Indiana has a population of five thousand people. Heroin and synthetic derivatives have left a major devastating impact on this community
"The town of about 5,000 people became home to one of the biggest HIV outbreaks in decades, with more than 140 diagnosed cases. At the root of the outbreak was a powerful prescription painkiller called Opana.
People figured out how to get around a coating on the pills intended to deter abuse, prepared them for injection and then shared needles to do so.
It used to be that people using Opana could crush a pill and snort it, says Jeff, one of the people in the house. Jeff served in Iraq with the Army National Guard before a Humvee accident injured his back. He says he became addicted to painkillers after his injury.
Snorting the drug instead of taking it by mouth meant avoiding the pill's time release, giving a user all the effects of the drug at once. In 2012, the company that makes Opana changed the formula of the drug to prevent people from snorting it. The company made the pills hard to crush, but at this point, many people were already addicted
"The only way you could really do them is inject them, because if you actually swallow them, it really don't do nothing," he says."
Jeff says they've figured out how to cook the reformulated version of Opana so it can be injected Inside A Small Brick House At The Heart Of Indiana's Opioid Crisis NPR‎ - 20 hours ago
So now the drug epidemic is also becoming an HIV epidemic. How many more Austin,Indianas may be out there ? President Obama was correct in pointing out that in order to make progress with this opioid addiction crisis that more resources need to be devoted to treatment instead of incarceration. In 2014, nearly 20,000 died of a Heroin overdose. The proposed Ithaca Plan is a method that has had success in other parts of the world, but is untested in the United States. The idea is to prevent fatal overdoses by providing supervised injection sites where addicts can use the illegal narcotic under the watch of medical professionals. Then, if they start to overdose, workers can administer naloxone to reverse the process. The addicts would also receive services and counseling to help them kick addiction. injection sites have been around for decades. Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands have all used them, placing them in locations where addicts congregated. One reverend opened a site near the Rotterdam Central Station in the Netherlands, and later expanded to a church that still provides those services today. Heroin kills thousands of people every year. Here's a ...https://www.washingtonpost.com/.../in-the-heart-of-a...
Communities need to explore every possible alternative including supporting clean needle exchange programs, that can help decrease the number of new HIV cases.
The bizarre theatre of this election year has featured candidates arguing over whose spouse is prettier and also threatening punishment of women who exercise their reproductive rights. Meanwhile we have tragedy occurring in towns like Austin, Indiana..
We will need more than " just say no " and we will certainly need more than the bread and circuses being offered by certain Presidential candidates, if we hope to want to eradicate this current health crisis.
May we have the courage to act boldly now.
May it be so.