Heroin, Virginia, Don Flattery discussed on Washington Today
Vitus and were over prescribed cough syrup with codeine and then hydro code for sore throat paid. You see them getting in snared in this and going from the pills, the pills get harder to get to get more expensive to get hooked up with dealers, and then they themselves start becoming dealers because they're dealing you know, they become their sort of middle manning as they call it the support their own habit. And then they recruit noon users because that's the way they can get their drugs, and it's just almost has just astonishing exponential effect. And and part of it goes back to this craving, doesn't it? I mean, you talk about my constituent, Don. Flattery in this book who lost his son? Sean had an apple attic accident was put on opioids and developed an addiction. And when he was in rehab when he couldn't get the pills heroin was readily available because it was more available, and it was cheaper. And and I think that's that's another reason why it's such an easy substitute as you said, they're chemical cousins. But it's also actually more readily available and more. Notable to maintain that craving that high that they developed an opioid. Right. And then could you describe a little bit? Then there's sentinel. So is it the opioid crisis isn't bad enough and the heroin flooding markets that were sort of advanced by opioids then this is synthetic drug called Benton Bentonville that's introduced to the market and often laced with heroin, and it's it's a it's a bad bad actor could you talk about that a little bit. Sure, it's a sentence. Fennel is a synthetic synthetic analog and it's fifty times stronger than heroin. There's also you've heard of car. No, that's an elephant sedative it's a hundred times stronger, and so just a little bit of that introduced into the heroin. They call cutting the heroin with these synthetic analogs makes it very very dangerous, and these people who are doing the cutting and the mixing or not chemists they're drug dealers and the people that work for them. And so it's easy for it to get you know, a batch a bad batch to get out. And I I started seeing this in my community of Roanoke in June two thousand fifteen or so when Fenton all started entering the supply. And it was you know, it was catastrophic at the time we had the highest we had the highest rate in the state Beth Macy journalists, south West Virginia. If by democratic congressman Gerry Connolly from northern Virginia her book duck. Is a really dangerous, and I was struck you make a reference to a police Caesar. Page three or one of your book. You talk about an August twenty seventeen police seizure of four point four pounds. Offensive will not tons. And then you say that's enough for one million, bagel overdoses. That's an extraordinary pack. And people are ordering it off the dark net, you know, from Hong Kong and China. So one of the things I'm happy about what the new opioid Bill in congress. Now is that there's money to be screening that coming in in the US postal service. I mean that seems like low hanging fruit. Let's be screening are male for this story. Oh that it's coming in. There's another story in the book about the catch a kid at Virginia western community college selling zanex, but it's actually press fat. I mean think they caught him with like seven hundred pill selling them in the parking lot. Think about had gotten out there. I mean, you can. It's shocking. How easy it is for people to get this and it's easy to smuggle. And it just makes everything so much more dangerous. That's why you're seeing most of the increases in desert overdose deaths are being fueled by fennel now. So let's talk a little bit about. Okay. So we've got an opioid crisis. We got heroin crisis. Now, we have a Fenton. Oh crisis. We have soaring addiction rates starting in a large part of rural America. But now spreading to the suburbs. And certainly the cities we're seeing skyrocketing rates not only of addiction, but of overdose deaths. So let's talk about treatment. Because one of the things that comes clear your book is a it's very hard to get somebody to read the treatment. Be it's hard to get them in because of long waiting lists. But see it's prohibitively expensive. And then finally, it isn't very efficacious. It doesn't work very well. Could you talk about that? Because the choices for desperate loved ones who want to help somebody with an addiction in their family, or friend are actually very limited and not very promising. No, I saw family after family like some mortgaging their houses or barring from their grandparents to spend thirty thousand dollars to get a kid to an abstinence only rehab facility and was actually not the right kind of treatment for opioid use disorder study. After study shows that the most effective treatment is medication assisted treatment. And that's offered usually in an outpatient setting with counseling and it cuts overdose deaths and relapse by fifty to sixty percent compared to abstinence which is more like ten percent. So I saw a lot of activity around a lot of herculean effort to get young adults sent off to rehabs, and then I would watch them sort of bomb out of that. And then relapse, and if they run into federal or car, they die. I mean, there were people in my book who died before I had a chance to type up my interview nuns. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, some of the stories you were people have been trying to get some someone who's addicted into a rehab treatment facility and and finally been accepted, and they died the day before. Right. That was in in that case. I think you're talking about the store Joey Gilbert. Yeah. Fall twenty seven year old girl who had been doing fine on suboxone, which is no medication assisted treatment. People nor phen-. And and in order to get to this face base rehab because she herself believed that that was the best way for her to be clean because of the stigma against people who are on a lot of people in the twelve step community believed that just substituting one drug for another absence worked for them with alcoholism white-cain at work with with this drug, but it's different. And so you see Joey. Wanting so badly to get clean that she starts cutting her suboxone pills in half because the rehab center that they've lined up for her is a faith based and doesn't permit any drugs at all not even any medications, and she relapses while she's trying so hard to get there. Because in her mind, that's the only way she's going to be well, and then she relapses and dies. And I mean just a tragedy for her and her beautiful family that tried so hard to get her help was so worn out by some of her behavior. And yet still I still see them at community meeting after community meaning telling the story that telling the fact that if Joey had had a way forward for continuing her for having, you know, back then Virginia hadn't yet approved the Medicaid expansion. That they believe she'd be a lot today. So. Exploring that just a little bit more. A lot of people look at the model, which is you. Go cold Turkey. You give it up. You're not on any kind of substitute for alcohol, and there's a twelve step program to get you sober, and and for a lot of people that therapeutic intervention works. And so we have rehab centers the crop up. Not always regulated certified. I might add. And that's a problem too. But who have a philosophy that if you're on any kind of drug including a substitute drug that is designed to help you come down off the addiction. That is a bad thing from their point of view philosophically. And as I recall in your book about two thirds of all rehab centers, refused to accept you as a patient. If you're on any kind of. That's right and only three percent allow all three kinds of maintenance drugs, which are viewpoint orpheum methadone and vitriol or now tracks down and there's just a huge bias against 'em and MIT being medical assistant assisted treatment. That's right. When the World Health Organization Ida, the national institutes, drug abuse, the CDC, all concur. That MIT is the best treatment for opioid use disorder. My constituent, Don flattery who lost a son certainly would hold that philosophy as as one of the reasons of son died because going cold Turkey was simply physically not possible, given the enormous power of the addiction, and he was therefore very susceptible to the heroin substitute. Right. And I see that play out over and over in my book, not only with Kevin flattery. But with with tests Henry, and I'm carrying a lock out right now wearing a locket with her picture in it that her mother gave me after her death, and she didn't die of an overdose. We sort of thought we would get a call one day saying that she had died of an overdose. But she died because lacking her access to her her some family members who didn't believe in it, and nor detach herself because she had abused it before she went off to a abstinence only treatment center in Las Vegas. And then when she relapsed and failed out of that she was living homeless and on the streets working amid prostitution and drug gangs. And she ended up murdered. Her body was discovered in a dumpster on Christmas Eve, and she was twenty nine. She was twenty eight at the time then. Yeah, she was twenty nine by by the time of her funeral. And I think of it is patient abandonment. We've just abandoned these people they become hard to deal with they're so driven by this drug, and what tests said to me the first time I interviewed her in late two thousand fifteen she described how she had initially been addicted by at an urgent care centre with two thirty day opioid prescriptions. And she said what we need. It should be an ironic. She said, well, we need is an urgent care for the addicted. And so that's the message. I'm trying to carry forward with this book, we need to make these medications lifesaving medications. The tests are self couldn't get that. Don, flattery son lost his access to we need to make them available. The way we made HIV medications available in a low threshold setting where everybody who needed to get it had axe. That's just the way everybody who needs to get heroin has access right? We need to make these these drugs as accessible as the street drugs are because they're really they really work when they're used correctly. Beth Macy on the impact of Oxycontin on a small rural community in Virginia interview. By democratic congressman Gerry Connolly, the book Duke. Not a quick fix. I'm sorry. I didn't mean I said in your book to your point that they work you compared the relapse rate and the recovery sustainable recovery rate, and they're pretty dramatic differences. When you're on MIT brushes cold Turkey, not being on. Could you got fifty to sixty percent with them AT versus about ten percent on abstinence only, sandy? These kids. Yeah. So many of these kids. I have seen one or two of their friends succeed and rehab, and then they also have been you know, they've been in the NFL meetings where they've been felt to be unclean. I watched tests go to NA meetings and asked to be sponsored and no one sponsor because they gained her unclean. Because she was taking suboxone or buprenorphine. And so she herself believe this notion that going away out of state to abstinence only facility was the only way for her to get clean..