My Turn – Richard Creel: Irresponsible drug use backfires on wrong people

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 6, 2018

The articles about the recent death from a multi-drug overdose of a local adolescent no doubt stir the emotions of those given to commiseration without reflection. Such is the cult of victimology in which factors such as irresponsibility are avoided, if not in fact refused and denied, as causative.

On reading the articles, I was also struck by a piece in a Sunday edition of The Post about Narcan and “Narcan parties.” This reinforced my impression of the irresponsible risk-taking of users of street drugs, in which, apart from uncertainty about composition and amount(s) of agent(s) present, the mode of consumption, IV injection, is the most hazardous, for reasons of hygiene and because in such a way, maximum serum levels are attained immediately. Such levels build up over time through intramuscular and oral dosing without an immediate onset of effect, but with IV injection have a rapid onset of toxicity, as the user has no way of knowing how much nor what he/she has put into his/her bloodstream.

This is hardly comparable to consuming a legally manufactured medicine, legally prescribed and dispensed to treat a condition that affects many individuals, especially in an aging society. Unfortunately, such is the ignorance of the general public and its willingness to leap at immediate solutions without considering the complications and even harm that may ensue as a result, that measures capable of increasing the suffering of many, all because of the impulses of individuals given to seeking immediate gratification, may well be implemented. Meanwhile, the flaw in society, the irresponsibility of the risk-takers, is simply treated as another example of “victims” to be helped or mourned.

The description of morphine as “the molecule” is an absurdity. The essential part of a molecule for narcotic analgesic activity is the N-methyl-piperidine ring in morphine and analogues, meperidine and other chemicals, but methadone and endorphins/enkephalins, among others, do not have this structure, although they can imitate it stereochemically. I note that the teenager, Taylor Miller, had cocaine, heroin, fentanyl and acetylfentanyl (this possibly a metabolite of fentanyl rather than a separate drug), so the question arises as to what drug she was seeking. In such circumstances, how could she even hope to know?

The article concerning the Narcan (naloxone) parties did not add that morphine (taken as an example) has a longer half life (two to three hours) than naloxone (one hour), so that administration of the latter will require attention to the patient and new doses on the return of the respiratory depression that narcotic analgesic overdose produces if not treated correctly.

I repeat, although many may ignore my words, that, in the reaction to the reports of opiate/opioid overdose deaths, measures that will obstruct or limit access to adequate treatment of pain due to the abuses of those who were playing with fire (no other way to describe it), is an example of the cure being worse than the disease. I would also remind them of the saying “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

Richard Nash Creel is a resident of Salisbury.

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