41. Between the beginning of January and the end of June, the number is 41. Rather, the number as I know it is 41, for 41 does not include data that is not searchable / accessible (to me), and 41 is a number specific to the city of my employment.
Q. What is a number is greater than 41? A. Three.
Between January 1st and June 30th, there have been 41 overdoses, most of which have been attributed to heroin, Fentanyl, and various other opioids / opiates. Three of these incidents resulted in death (one of these deaths being of a colleague / friend). Note: I seem to lack the ability to recall the appropriate use of opioid vs. opiate so I have linked some info. on grammatically correct usage, as apparently, these terms are not so much interchangeable.
I work in a city with a population just over 36,000. In comparison with Boston, New York City, Chicago, and (insert any large city name . . . HERE), this “city” is merely a sizable town. So, 41 overdoses in precisely six months is a staggering number, IMO. Even more staggering is three. Even more mind-boggling is that the number of overdoses and OD deaths annually, regionally and internationally combined, is forty-leven. Why?
I do not ask why as in, “Why are overdoses happening?” The answer is blaringly obvious in just the word itself. I am ever curious as to why people use drugs, how they develop a relationship with “hard” drugs . . . just why, why, WHY? I think it is of the utmost importance that I note that my curiosity is not based in judgment; my inquisitiveness is based solely on my craving for knowledge.
What I do understand is that the topic is complex, personal, and unique. I have an education in Psychology and Criminology, and yet, I continue to lack a hypothesis. I have studied the overdosing issue(s) from a viewpoint comprised of a variety of angles: law enforcement, public health, psychology, sociological, and humanitarian. I have read copious memoirs, articles, books, and textbooks. I have watched an ample number of episodes of Intervention and Dope, as well as viewed documentaries galore.
“In addition to the afore outlined, I have devoted considerable hours to developing, maintaining, and examining spreadsheets detailing instances of overdose and overdose deaths within the confines of [ . . . ]. It is with the upkeep of this data that my interest in the use and abuse of illicit drugs has deepened, particularly in regards to a larger scale and broader spectrum. With a background in Psychology, as well as Criminology, I grasp the complexities of the opioid-overdose epidemic; my interest lies within both the macro and micro levels of the issue, as the severity of this dilemma is both societal and singular.”
Above is an excerpt from a cover letter I recently submitted with an application for a PHA position with a national program. I assumed that with this new job, I would be provided the opportunity to really research a variety of aspects related to the “why, why, WHY?” regarding drug use, drug abuse, and overdoses. However, I will not be making a shift in employment in the foreseeable future, but my inquiring mind will not be stifled!
I am not naive. Therefore, I am well aware that I will never brainstorm a successful plan of action to combat the afore outlined matters. I sincerely want to learn the “why, why, WHY?,” particularly on the singular level. Do you have a chronic illness? Are drugs a coping mechanism utilized to numb pain from a trauma? Did recreation evolve into lifestyle? Perhaps you genuinely enjoy the ritualistic nature of chasing the high? I have so many questions (more than the ones I have drafted above, believe you me), but who do I (or can I) turn to in order to seek answers, and how? Though I have an affinity for research and erudition, I am by no stretch of the imagination to be considered a researcher.
Due to the likely inclination of fellow bloggers, surfers of the interwebs, etc. to remain anonymous, I recognize that this screed will not result in comment or feedback pertaining to one’s experience(s); even my completely benign posts generate very little interest. Naturally, this subject is fresh on my mind with the five month anniversary of my friend’s OD death fast approaching. Also, I have just completed the task of reading and documenting June’s overdose cases in my attempt to hone in on patterns, trends, and any other useful information I can glean from data. I relish data (DUH, I’m an analyst), but it is so impersonal. Data synthesis leaves me wanting more . . .