Middletown, Ohio has apparently decided that after three strikes, you’re out – if you overdose on heroin and are administered Narcan. The idiot behind this, city council member Dan Picard (Captain Picard?), proposed that after two overdoses, you get community service for the equivalent amount of money it took to save their life. It’s the third time that will get you – literally.
According to Picard,
If the dispatcher determines that the person who’s overdosed is someone who’s been part of the program for two previous overdoses and has not completed the community service and has not cooperated in the program, then we wouldn’t dispatch.
Yep, you read that right: they have decided that they can play God with addicts. It isn’t clear yet if they’re going to do the same with cocaine addicts or alcoholics, but if this passes, there isn’t anything that would stop them.
According to WCMH/WLMT, Middletown fire chief Paul Lolli stated,
We are faced with stress on our services, particularly the EMS services where we can do six to eight opioid overdose runs a day.
They have a heroin problem … not unlike oh, THE ENTIRE UNITED STATES. None of the rest of us have considered not saving someone’s life because they are an addict. News Flash: addiction is a mental health problem. They need help to control it, not unlike some with anxiety, depression or schizophrenia.
Granted, last year they had 532 overdoses, 74 of whom died. This year, there have already been 577 with 51 deaths. Narcan, which is administered for a heroin overdose, cost them more than $11,000 last year. They have spent $30,000 so far this year. It’s a lot of money, I get it. However, the fire department is required by law to administer Narcan when treating an overdose.
Picard says this isn’t a plan to try to get a handle on the drug problem, it’s to save them money:
We’ve got to do what we’ve got to do to maintain our financial security and this is just costing us too much money.
It all comes back to costs, as that seems to be all they care about. I know that addicts will steal and can hurt the people they love the most. That isn’t good, but that’s the addiction. The addiction hurts the addict and everyone who gives a damn around them. That’s how mental illness works.
According to USA Today, more than 52,000 people in the US died of drug overdoses in 2015. More than 20 million Americans deal with substance abuse disorders, leading to suffering for them and their families, and costing the nation $442 billion, which is insane.
With the repeal of the ACA (aka Obamacare) Medicaid is dramatically reduced, taking with it the substance abuse programs that help addicts get their lives back. Thirty-one states participate in Medicaid, with Democratic AND Republican governors. Before the ACA, one-third of people covered on the individual market weren’t covered for substance abuse disorders. The AHCA (aka Trumpcare) would let insurers opt out of that coverage, causing the people who can afford insurance to pay thousands of dollars out-of-pocket for these programs. If you don’t have insurance, you’re screwed.
Basically, this all comes down to money and politics. Whether it’s one town or the entire country, in the end someone is going to die because some politicians only care about the bottom line. It doesn’t matter that an addict could have family and friends who love them. It doesn’t matter if a law requires someone to be treated with Narcan for an overdose. It all costs too much, and greedy politicians couldn’t give a shit about the brother, sister, mom, dad, aunt, uncle or cousin who overdosed down the street and died. If they didn’t follow the program, it was their fault. It costs too much money to take care of them, and what’s another dead addict anyway?