Last year, I hid behind an abandoned building in East Baltimore with three guys who all used heroin together as they tested their drugs, injected them, and made sure they were there for each other in case any of them overdosed. It was about 8AM in the middle of January 2020, sunny but cold, and “D”—Black, in his late thirties, without a home, and requesting anonymity for obvious reasons—held court behind a vacant rowhouse. D saw to it that he and his friends were as safe as possible—he’s more fastidious and more experienced than the others. Heroin had been part of his life for about 20 years. “I’ve been using off and on,” D explained to me. “Mostly on.” Most mornings back then, D and his friends looked out for one another because they understood that they were most likely to overdose when they used alone.
Two weeks after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released sobering statistics showing a record-breaking number of drug overdoses in the U.S. in the first year of the coronavirus pandemic, more than 260 advocacy groups called on lawmakers Tuesday to urgently pass public health proposals to mitigate the crisis. Led by the Drug Policy Alliance, People's Action, the National Harm Reduction Coalition, and VOCAL-NY, the organizations said the unprecedented number of overdoses in the 12-month period ending in April 2021 was "grim, but not unexpected" considering the criminalization of drug use in the United States and lack of resources for people with drug use disorders.
Washington - Drugmaker Purdue Pharma, the company behind the powerful prescription painkiller OxyContin that experts say helped touch off an opioid epidemic, will plead guilty to federal criminal charges as part of a settlement of more than $8 billion, the Justice Department announced Wednesday. The deal does not release any of the company’s executives or owners — members of the wealthy Sackler family — from criminal liability, and a criminal investigation is ongoing. Family members said they acted “ethically and lawfully,” but some state attorneys general said the agreement fails to hold the Sacklers accountable.