Listening to Chas Carlson, Joe Sobol, Craig Hall and Eric Miller was very interesting because it explained a whole new perspective on responding to addiction and overdose. Carlson, Sobol, and Hall are paramedics and Miller works in law enforcement.
Hearing some of the heartbreaking situations the four have encountered while on the job really impacted me. They shared stories of children trying to give overdosing parents CPR and kids living in households with heroin and injection needles strewn throughout the residence.
We also discussed the tie between social media and mental health, which can impact addiction. As most of us already know, it is easy to think everyone has their lives together through the picture they paint on social media. However, that’s rarely the case.
I learned that cities like Portland and Seattle will leave Narcan behind with people who are overdosing with the hope of deterring future overdoses. Our guest speakers pointed out that this can create a whole new problem, though, where people with addictions might continue using because they feel they have a “cure.” Our speakers stressed that Narcan is not a cure-all solution. In fact, the small dosage administered by a single use of Narcan is not enough to revive somebody who has a large amount of drugs in their system. Still, it seems like Narcan will eventually become as readily available in emergency response kits as defibrillators.
Additionally, the class discussed how addiction impacts everybody, across all neighborhoods and socioeconomic backgrounds. Our speakers told us they’ve seen just as many fatal overdoses in wealthy condos as they have neighborhoods like Kensington. I was also shocked to learn that people suffering from addictions don’t receive visits from social workers at Temple University Hospital-Episcopal Campus. This is terribly problematic because this is where our university sends students for treatment. Further, when someone visits their doctor for help to quit smoking they are inundated with pamphlets, suggestions and resources. Why isn’t it the same for other substances?