In a recent news article, one New York county Supervisor board’s openly questioned how grant money should be used to manage illegal drug use.
According to the Star Post, John Haff was joined by fellow Washington County supervisors Sara Idleman and Evera Sue Clary in criticizing the county’s plan to spend $6,000 federal dollars on flyovers searching for marijuana plants. Couldn’t the money be better spent, Haff argued, on stopping opiods?
Clary pointed out that marijuana prevention methods seemed especially pointless when, just over the town line, the substance is legal under Vermont State law.
Haff was vocal about a variety of other drug-prevention uses the money could be put towards. He said that $6,000 could buy 200 naloxone doses, which are injections used to reverse the effects of a heroin overdose.
Haff also pointed out that marijuana is much less dangerous than heroin, and that directing the federal grant money towards the opioid crisis would actually help the county save lives.
Other recent articles bring Haff’s life-saving aspirations into context. USA Today posted an article sharing one man’s devastation at the hands of heroin. Nicolas Bush, author of One by One: A Memoir of Love and Loss in the Shadows of Opioid America, lost both a brother, a sister, and three friends to the addiction. Bush also nearly died himself. Twice.
Though the personal impact of opioid addiction is clearly devastating, Bush also puts opioid deaths in the US in a larger context: “In the United States, 72,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2017, nearly 50,000 of those from opioids. Imagine an entire football stadium full of people obliterated,” he writes.
Overcoming addiction is difficult on the individual level. Helping entire communities is possibly even more challenging. Even though Haff, Clary, and Idleman voted to redirect funds in Washington County, NY, their votes were overruled. The marijuana-suppression flyover will continue as planned.
Other news stories discuss alternative ways that opioid deaths can be reduced. According to WCVB-TV, fentanyl testing stips are becoming increasingly popular ways for opioid users to test heroin. The strips the strips detect the presence of fentanyl-laced in heroin, which makes overdose and adverse effects more dangerous.
In 2015, around 21,000 adolescents had used heroin in the past year, and an estimated 5,000 were current heroin users. Clearly, that number is dangerously high. Whatever the method, communities that come together to work against any addiction are essential to stopping the opioid crisis.