Tuesday, August 11, 2020
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Ohio school hears a sad message about opioids

Knowing there must be a deeper meaning to all the people dying these days from drug overdoses, the state medical examiner in New Hampshire is retiring and pursuing a new line of work as a minister, hoping to keep young people off drugs by appealing to their spiritual side, the New York Times reports.

A dramatic increase in opioid overdoses, particularly from fentanyl, these past 12 months has left many medical examiners’ offices across the country scrambling to keep their accreditation, as it could be lost if each medical examiner has to perform too many autopsies in a year. But that’s not the only problem: doctors can’t just refuse to do an autopsy because they’ve done too many, so they often have to keep the bodies on ice.

That’s what one county is doing in Ohio, according to the article, but the backlog is building up everywhere, threatening not so much the quality of autopsies but the frame of mind and peace of mind of medical examiners.

“It’s almost as if the Visigoths are at the gates, and the gates are starting to crumble,” the paper quoted Dr Thomas A Andrew, chief medical examiner of New Hampshire, as saying, referring to the recent surge in overdose deaths. “I’m not an alarmist by nature, but this is not overhyped. It has completely overwhelmed us.”

Gov Larry Hogan, of Maryland, joined actor Michael Kelly earlier this year to film a public service announcement raising awareness of the heroin and opioid epidemic in Maryland.

The issue has certainly touched high schools everywhere, as some opioids, especially those of the synthetic variety, have been easy to obtain with just a credit or debit card and a smartphone, Voxitatis reported from Park City, Utah.

And police and local officials are visiting schools at an increasing rate, delivering an important message about how to combat drug use. Their bottom line: It’s very difficult to break the habit of taking drugs, because the chemicals themselves are very addictive.

Police Officer Barry Smith, of the Stow, Ohio, police department, visited Theodore Roosevelt High School in Kent and, at an assembly for students, unfolded a body bag and zipped the bag near the microphone on the podium, making the sound echo throughout the auditorium, the Record-Courier reported.

“This is the last sound his mother heard before officials carted off her son’s body,” he told students, leaving many of them feeling the pain of a mother who lost her son last year to an overdose of carfentanyl, an elephant tranquilizer that is thousands of times stronger than morphine and much more addictive—if it doesn’t kill the user, which it often does.

“Can you feel her desperation?” Mr Smith asked the students in the audience.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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