- The Washington Times - Monday, May 14, 2018


Long before real estate developer Donald Trump claimed residency on Pennsylvania Avenue, the writing was on the wall.

Now that the opioid crisis is in full throttle, guess what’s happened in the nation’s capital?

Social service deliverers mark time by saying government is ill-equipped amid a public health crisis.

What do they want?

Taxpayer money.

How do they seek it?

They start a funding drive, of course.

Specifically, they want more naloxone kits, and the District has a limit on dispensing the generic overdose reversal drug, which has long been credited as a lifesaver. Even President Trump is on the naloxone bandwagon, touting its use earlier this spring.

The drug already is available in the District and 45 states without a prescription, and health care and substance abuse experts are urging that everyone be prepared with naloxone, which can be used in needle form, or Narcan, which comes in a nasal spray.

Public safety and ambulance crews are supplied, too.

So are organizations such as Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive (HIPS), which receives government funding not only to combat prostitution, HIV/AIDS and the other hazards of street life, but also support needle-exchange programs.

Here’s a tweet from Mandy Slutsker, policy and advocacy manager at ACTION, a global health coalition: “The DC Dept of Health under @MayorBowser told @HIPSDC they have ‘overextended their naloxone quota and cannot get more.’ Naloxone saves lives from opioid overdose. Please join me to donate & do what the DC govt won’t — save lives”

It’s a scary thought, is it not, that women are being urged to accessorize their little black dress with a small clutch holding a naxolone syringe? Or that guys should be slip Narcan in their hip pocket just in case?

Just in case a hardcore heroin junkie OD’s.

Just in case your nephew accidentally touches some fentanyl pills at a neighbor’s cookout.

Just in case a deaconess at Sunday service overdoses on her prescribed Percocet.

These days the victim of an overdose needn’t drum up shades of Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction.” It can happen anywhere, anytime.

Which is why more attention must be paid to the front end of the problem, the problem government cannot solve — the problem of self-medicating, the problem of turning a blind-eye to substance abuse.

People are overdosing on legit and illicit drugs, to be sure, and the synthetic drug problem is as real as the ill-equipped government policies.

The government can only do so much. Nonprofits can only do so much — increased funding or “investments,” as they are called nowadays, or not.

Let Ms. Slutsker’s quest make the rounds, but don’t be fooled.

Free clean needles and free antidotes won’t solve a behavior problem government encourages, indeed enables.

Deborah Simmons can be contacted at [email protected]

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