Summary: In this Netflix documentary on the Opioid Crisis we get taken to a small county in Virginia, called Huntington. Huntington is the known as the overdose capital of the United States, often having as many as 5-7 overdoses a day now. They show footage of three different women working to help people going through an addiction; a firefighter/first responder, a Judge in the drugs court, and a member of the Brown Bag Ministry. Jan Rider the first responder goes around helping to keep addicts who have OD’d often injecting with a drug called Naloxone that prevents overdoses from being fatal. Patricia Keller the judge in drug court, a program that helps addicts get treatment instead of just going back to jail. She passes judgement when people in the program relapse or act out, she sends some people back to jail well graduating others from the program when they have been sober for long enough and can get there lives back on track. She is firm when they break the rules but truly cares about everyone in the program and just wants them to get better. Necia Freeman is a member of the Brown Bag Ministry which helps to give out food to people on the street along with some bible verses. She drives around and feeds people and talks to them about their problem. She helps some people get into temporary shelters so they don’t have to sleep on the street. At one point she is talking to someone about why they are back on the street and they ask for just hug, she happily agrees. Reflection: This Documentary shows the Opioid Crisis from the side of the people actually helping out. It’s different from all the other sources which mostly just talk about and describe how we need to fix the crisis. These people are the ones making a difference in a town where people die every day from drugs. It makes you realize little things you can do to help, like giving out food and hug. The documentary also shows how unfazed some of the people are to this, in one particular scene that was shown, someone had overdosed in a store. Well all the paramedics were helping this man, there was people checking out in the background just buying some soda as if nothing is wrong. It’s not because they don’t care but they have just seen this many times which makes it even worse. MLA Citation: “Heroin(e).” Netflix Official Site, 12 Sept. 2017, www.netflix.com/title/80192445.
Summary: Johann breaks down the basic stuff we know about addiction and explains how most of it is wrong. How for example your body becomes dependent on the chemical hooks from heroine and if you use it for a bit your body needs it or you suffer horrible pain and withdrawals. 20% of all the soldiers in Vietnam used heroine, but when they came back they weren’t addicts, they didn’t go to rehab, they didn’t have withdrawals. It turns out that it has more to do with the environment then the drugs, rats put in a “rat paradise cage” that had two water bottles, one water and one with heroine, they didn’t become addicted to the heroine and they barely used it. When compared to a rat put in a plain cage alone with the two bottles, it became addicted and would OD quickly. Punishing addicts is the traditional way of dealing with them, but that system hasn’t been working at all. We should be following Portugal's model by decriminalizing the drugs and focusing on support and helping the addicts to have something to do everyday. Helping them get a job so that they have a purpose, connection with others and reason to get up in the morning and not just do drugs. It’s the human connection part that we need to make sure every addict feels, feeling like they are in that “ Rat paradise cage” so that they don’t turn to the drugs. Reflection: This talk really illustrated to me that with everything we think we know about addiction being mostly wrong, and all of our policies being based off this we are in trouble. How are we supposed to solve the issue of the Opioid Crisis when we are going about most of it completely wrong. We need the people in power to adapt new views on addiction before we will ever make much progress on this crisis. MLA Citation: “Everything You Think You Know about Addiction Is Wrong.” Performance by Johann Hari, June 2015.
Summary: In the U.S. Over the next ten years we are expected lose over 650,000 Americans to drug overdose, this amount of lost life has been contributing to the U.S. national life expectancy's drop over the last two years. The Opioid Crisis started in the 1990’s when pharmaceutical companies pushed for hard core painkillers to be used as a risk free pain treatment. They became way over prescribed and people became addicted. As people couldn’t afford to buy these expensive painkillers, cheaper, more deadly options like Heroin and Fentanyl flooded the drug market. Doctors often over prescribed patients with more than enough painkillers so that they wouldn’t complain about the pain and so that they could get patients in and out faster. With faster turn around they could bill the insurance companies faster. Reflection: From this news source I learned how doctors were under pressure from there jobs and employers to prescribe more painkillers in order to treat patients faster. It wasn’t just the pharmaceutical companies that produced them, It was a combined effort with the doctors in order to get Americans on these opioids. MLA Citation: Lopez, German. “The Opioid Epidemic, Explained.” Vox, Vox, 3 Aug. 2017, www.vox.com/science-and-health/2017/8/3/16079772/opioid-epidemic-drug-overdoses.
Summary:Joe Kennedy gave a little speech during the State of the Union Address and talked about the opioid crisis but didn’t give solutions. This is a common theme amongst politicians speaking out saying that the opioid crisis is bad, but not offering much of a solution. Americans use 81% of the world's supply of oxycodone, while only being 5% of the population of the world. Trump could be using his position of power to condemn pharmaceutical companies but he rarely does that which allows the million dollar lobbying machine to keep going. Neither party is innocent when it comes to putting in legislation that helps the companies. Reflection: I often don’t hear about the opioid crisis being referred to as a bipartisan issue, of course it’s always stated as issue that affects us all. But more specifically the blame is mostly thrown at the pharmaceutical companies and doctors. However, really it’s the politicians on both sides that permitted this to happen by putting in legislation that make it easier for these companies. They also allowed “industry professionals” to help edit CDC guidelines for the pharmaceutical companies to prescribe to younger people. MLA Citation: Barkan, Ross. “When It Comes to the Opioids Crisis, Democrats Aren't Innocent | Ross Barkan.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 5 Feb. 2018, www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/feb/05/opioids-crisis-democrats-joe-kennedy.
Summary: In this song Macklemore and Ariana Deboo sing about the opioid crisis. They sing about the doctor being the drug dealer and he said it would heal them but it only got them addicted. Macklemore sings about how the pharmaceutical company heads are murderers who aren’t going to face punishment for there crimes. He lists celebrities who have OD’ed and says how it’s only been getting attention now since white people are dying. Reflection: From the song I got a more first person view of the situation from someone who was actually addicted to opioids at one point. He has personally seen friends die from these drugs and you can feel his anger and frustration towards big pharma. When you experience first hand a death of a friend or loved one from these drugs I think it makes it so that you can longer stand to be silent and that seems like what this song is about. MLA Citation: Koenig, Jason, director. MACKLEMORE - DRUG DEALER (FEAT. ARIANA DEBOO) OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO. 26 Oct. 2016.
Summary: The Times photojournalism article shows over thirty photos all in black and white taken in different cities around the country, majority are from Boston and San Francisco. All of the photos are of addicts of all sorts in houses, parking lots, stores, heaps of garbage and in houses. Some of them are shooting up heroine, some are helping other people shoot up heroin, and others are passed out in a stretcher having OD’d. When you gaze into the eyes of these addicts you can see such a sense of desperation, people throwing away their kids just to get a fix. Reflection: These photos make you feel as if the difference between just the numbers of addicts and real people has been removed. Seeing these addicts living in these situations makes me want to do all in my power to try and help these people. I want the people pushing pharmaceuticals to have to look at this and see what they have done. They should have to see the effects are of being a heartless and greedy executive has on millions. MLA Citation: “See Inside the Worst Opioid Addiction Crisis in U.S. History.” Time, Time, time.com/james-nachtwey-opioid-addiction-america/.