Whether you believe it’s a matter of choice or genetics or a combination of both, addiction affects us all. It is a disease, and it doesn’t discriminate among us. Addiction has touched each of our lives in one way or another. Some of us have deeply personal experiences, but all of us come face to face with addiction and the havoc it brings on a regular basis by nature of what we have chosen to do.
The repeat client who keeps getting DWIs and/or drug charges. The young person who has been using since adolescence and can’t stop. We all have these clients. It’s great to help with the legal issue(s)—to get a not guilty, a dismissal, or pretrial diversion. But that’s only a Band-Aid—it’s a temporary fix for a larger problem. The question is what are we doing to help them with their disease apart from the case. Certainly, treatment and meetings will certainly help mitigate, but if that’s the only spectrum through which treatment and meetings are presented, a larger opportunity has been missed. Spend some extra time with these clients. Talk to them about the disease and how to manage it. Point them in the right direction to get help. You may be the only one who does, or you may be the person who finally gets through to them. We have that inherent obligation to our fellow man. We must be more than sympathetic; we must act in whatever capacity we can.
We need to treat people with substance abuse problems as human beings, and that begins, perhaps, with law like Health and Safety Code 483.101–106—a law that values the lives of such persons. Health and Safety Code 483.101–106 now permits a person to possess Opioid antagonists (drugs that bind to Opioid receptors in the brain and block or inhibit the effects of Opioids—such as heroin, morphine, etc.—from acting on those receptors) with, or without, a prescription. This means Naloxone or Naltrexone. A person who is “at risk of experiencing an Opioid-related overdose” can legally possess Naloxone or another Opioid antagonist. So, too, can a family member, friend, or other person of a person at risk of experiencing an Opioid-related overdose. The Health and Safety Code now insulates a doctor who in good faith prescribes an Opioid antagonist from criminal or civil liability for prescribing, or failing to prescribe, an Opioid antagonist, and from any outcome resulting from the eventual administration of the Opioid antagonist.
August 31st is International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD). It’s a day that began in 2001 to focus on prevention and remembrance. The tragedy of overdose deaths is preventable. Remember those who we have lost, and let’s do what we can to prevent it. Wearing silver on August 31st celebrates life, acknowledges loss from overdose, and demonstrates support. The message silver sends is that the infinite value of each human being nullifies presumption, prejudice, and stigma towards people who use drugs. Wear silver.