Trying to break heroin’s grip
In a bit of cross-media promotion, we’d like to ask you to take an hour this weekend to watch a very important television program.
Maryland Public Television will show a documentar y about opioid drug abuse in our area. “Breaking Heroin’s Grip: Road to Recovery” comes on at 7 p.m. tomorrow, Saturday, Feb. 11. The program will also be streamed on breakingheroin.com and will be available on MPT’s YouTube channel. The film lasts 40 minutes, and will be followed by a 20-minute live phone bank program offering viewers solid information about treatment. Experts from Maryland’s 24-hour crisis hotline, overseen by Maryland’s Behavioral Health Administration, will staff the phone bank.
MPT has partnered with the Maryland, Delaware, D.C. Press Association (of which the Maryland Independent is a member) and APG Media of Chesapeake (the parent company of the Maryland Independent) to promote this program, and to support and encourage ongoing news coverage about the ravages of opioid addiction in our communities. The documentary itself was made by MPT in partnership with the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Southern Maryland has seen an increased rate of drug intoxication-related deaths, according to the latest DHMH report.
The report, which compares preliminar y data from Januar y through September 2016 to previous years, indicates that the counties are on pace for a record number of lives lost, with more than twice as many fatalities in Charles (34) during this period compared to 2015, and slight increases in Calvert (18) and St. Mary’s (12) as well. Overall, Maryland saw 1,468 fatalities through the third quarter of 2016, up from 904 deaths for that period in 2015. And that’s way up from the 465 who died in 2010.
The face of heroin addiction has changed in recent years, and now cuts across all socioeconomic segments of society. It’s no longer somebody else’s problem. It’s on all of us to help eradicate this scourge.
It can happen easily enough. After an accident, injury or illness, a patient might need powerful painkillers to take the edge off and get some relief. For an unfortunate minority of folks, that starts them on a slippery slope to full-blown addiction, needing to score heroin after their carefully controlled prescriptions expire.
And of course, this illegal and dangerous narcotic is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, so there’s no guarantee of its purity. The state DHMH reports that heroin is now often cut with Fentanyl, an extremely potent synthetic opiate, which the Drug Enforcement Agency warns can be up to 50 times more powerful than heroin. And the user often has no idea what’s really in that bag they just bought.
The MPT documentary focuses on three recovering heroin addicts and their stories. The first featured in the film is Lauren Fowler, daughter of Farming 4 Hunger founder Bernie Fowler Jr. and granddaughter of former state senator Bernie Fowler Sr. Now three years into her recovery, Lauren Fowler tells the story of her spiritual awakening in jail after a suicide attempt and her eventual breakaway from a $300-a-day heroin habit.
Also featured are personal accounts of a Baltimore woman who is 25 years into her recovery, and a man from Washington County who is three years into his climb back from heroin’s grip.
Awareness can lead to empathy, which can hopefully lead to solutions. Please take an hour to watch “Breaking Heroin’s Grip: Road to Recovery” tomorrow, let its message soak in, and then resolve to help.
It really is a life-and-death matter.