Last three months, have you done pain meds— Oxys, Vicodin? And how many times have you overdosed from opiates in your life? And how many times have you witnessed someone else overdose from opiates? David took my last cooker. Dude, I have cleans. Kristina Block says she first tried smoking heroin when she was a teenager. When I was 14, I tried heroin. And it just, like, made everything feel, like, safe and OK. Did I give you enough cleans? It just— it consumed me.
She moved to injecting by the time she was I was friends with this girl who was, like, And I just was kind of interested in it and I asked her to hit me one time.
Kristina is now seven years into her addiction. Like, it literally has a brain. And it shares mine, you know? Right now, how much heroin is in your system? So what determines how much you use? Well, the number one thing that determines how much I use is how much money I have, or how much dope I have. There are many different reasons why people turn to heroin.
Four years ago, Johnny Bousquet, 38, says he started using to cope with the breakup of his marriage. I felt like it alleviated the pain that I was going through.
It just made me feel like I can make it through that moment. And then eventually, I needed it to get through every moment. She was gone by the time he was One day, me and my sister, we found her dead in her room with a needle in her arm. She lost her battle with heroin then. I know she loved us and I know she really cared about us.
And I would always wonder if she loved heroin more than she loved us. And then something else takes over. How does the street look to you tonight? When we turn the corner, it might be different. Are you taking a right, Felix? As the heroin epidemic has spread, cities and states have grown desperate to come up with solutions.
Here in Seattle, beat cops are four years into a radical experiment to deal with drug use on their streets. Oh, [expletive deleted] the cops! Do me a favor. Do me a favor! And when you stop moving, I got you. Not a big deal. I just— you know, we got to find out who you are, OK? The girl on the ground just is getting well.
These officers are making fewer arrests. They are more likely to refer addicts they encounter to social services. Because I want to be safe. We are social workers. You are social workers. But a viewer— Lt. We could not incarcerate these people or arrest our way out of the problem. They would get sober. They would start using again. We continued to arrest them.
And then they would use, and continue to arrest. How much do you use a day? And how long have you been using? I just got out of jail! Are you a meth user too? Do you have any desire to get on methadone and get well or— GIRL: If you have a problem, come and see me at this office. Are you— do you still need that cooker?
The most recent surge of heroin abuse has altered our approach to addiction and our views on the war on drugs. We got a year-old male. Cops and prosecutors and epidemiologists, public health nurses, county coroners— all of this is being fought by really anonymous folks all across the country because this epidemic is also the quietest epidemic. Obvious overdose, known history of heroin use. Admitted using heroin today. He was found unconscious. They kind of roused him. And then when the people die, when the kids die, the parents are so mortified, so ashamed that they keep quiet, too.
And the thing is left to perpetuate and spread. How did this epidemic begin? In this country, there was a long-running puritanical attitude towards pain, and it resulted in almost a barbaric under-treatment of pain, particularly when it came to people with cancer and in the terminal stages of cancer. Center for Health Law: There had to be better treatment for people in serious pain. So there was a whole effort to open up minds, to allow hospice care and good pain management for people with cancer.
Doctors had long avoided prescribing opioid painkillers for fear of addicting their patients. That changed with the emergence of the hospice movement. That movement collides with an opportunistic drug company in the form of Purdue Pharma.
They see the opportunity to expand the use of these drugs beyond the cancer wards, kind of into the mainstream of medicine. And the drug that becomes the vehicle through which they do that is a drug called OxyContin.
OxyContin was not really a new drug. The molecule had been around since Purdue Pharma marketed it to doctors who were prescribing drugs for all manner of ailments to common, ordinary folks who were not dying of cancer. To them, OxyContin initially looked like a godsend. It looked like this wonder drug. There is no question that the marketing of OxyContin was the most aggressive marketing of a narcotic drug ever undertaken by a pharmaceutical producer.
There was absolutely no science to support this idea, zero. To urge doctors to treat pain more aggressively, Purdue Pharma launched a series of promotional videos. The pain that I have basically covers my neck to my feet.
Thirty-four million adults suffer from chronic pain. The company used prominent pain specialists, like Dr. Russell Portenoy, to ease concerns about addiction. The likelihood that the treatment of pain using an opioid drug which is prescribed by a doctor will lead to addiction is extremely low.
The message in these programs was that real addiction in your patients treated with opioids is exceptionally rare. Less than 1 percent of patients taking— Prof. Purdue Pharma managed to persuade a lot of good people in medicine that they needed to dramatically up their prescriptions of opioids. Prescriptions for other opioids soared, too, for drugs like Percocet and Vicodin.
Most of the users were white men and women living in towns and suburbs. Cari Creasia, a stay-at-home mom living in Kent, Washington, was prescribed Vicodin after the birth of her second child. When her prescription ran out, she wanted more.