Heroin, Opioid, and Narcan are not words in common usage by Eccentric readers, so why should you be interested, indeed concerned? We have a heroine-opioid epidemic in the US. This epidemic is here with us in Virginia, and Fauquier and Loudoun counties are nor exempt. Sadly, just the opposite, with people dying each month from overdoses. What can we all do? First, be aware. Heroin is a highly addictive drug processed from morphine, a naturally occurring substance from the seed pod of poppy plant varieties. When sold as a drug it appears as a white or brownish powder. Opium is refined to make morphine, and then further refined, with various additives (some extraordinarily destructive to the body) into different forms of “street heroin”. Opioids act on the human opioid receptors to produce similar effects to morphine, in essence painkillers. Opioids have legitimate medical applications regularly prescribed by medical practitioners. Some experts claim that less professional practitioners either over prescribe or unnecessarily prescribe opioids instead of using other therapies – the pill-popping syndrome. Used non medically without proper control they produce euphoric effects like an illegal drug. Excessive use leads to dependence, withdrawal symptoms and, particularly when combined with other depressant drugs, results in death from respiratory failure. By 2017 a combination of recreational use, addiction, and overprescription, plus illicit inexpensive heroin, has led to millions of Americans, young and old, totally dependent and dying in large numbers. Our counties are no exceptions. Now to Narcan. This is the brand name for “Naloxone”, and is used medically, indeed vital for paramedics in our rescue squads, to block the effects of opioid overdose. Rescue squads and emergency rooms administer intravenously and by injection. Often multiple doses are required to save the patient. If a rescue squad runs out of Narcan this becomes a critical situation for a patient in need of urgent life support. By the time a unit arrives at an emergency room it may be too late. Neighboring West Virginia has a nationally excessively high addiction rate. West Virginia rescue squad units often have to attend the same victims, indeed whole families, on more than one occasion during a 24 hour period. The overall impact of this is not good if rescue units are not available for trauma cases (traffic accidents and so on) and medical emergencies (heart attack, stroke, emergency childbirth and so on). So what as a responsible, caring, and law-abiding community can our Eccentric readers do now that you are aware? I write the following suggestions for community action as the Vice President and a Life Member of The Plains Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company and as an advisor to the Fauquier County Sheriff who is, in my opinion,  the finest and most dedicated Sheriff in living memory, supported by a highly capable staff of senior officers and Deputies. They deserve our help and direct support. How may you do this? Heroin arrives in our area via a discreet distribution chain. Breaking that chain, arresting the miscreants who make millions at the top end of this chain, and more modest sums at the Fauquier and Loudoun counties bottom ends, and preventing distribution to our vulnerable fellow citizens, are clear operational objectives. Be most observant of people and vehicles that behave “unusually, outside the norm”, in your daily routine – in parking lots, shopping malls, movie theaters, bars and cafes, “deliveries” of one sort or another, and in street meetings. Call 911 if you see or suspect something that looks like a drug handoff or event. The Virginia State police App is also a very good tool on cell phones – “See Something, Send Something”. The App states, “If you SEE suspicious activity, SEND a photo or note”. Schools are not exempt. Talk to and train your school and college children to be knowledgeable, aware, and observant, and to report any suspicious behavior, and to support them fully in having to report fellow students. It may save their fellow students’ lives. Private schools are just as vulnerable because students may have access, (not always), simply stated, to more money for drugs. Heroin is not a socially discriminating drug. It is used across all socio-economic boundaries. Discreet drug parties held by the very affluent are the road to ruin and set the very worst example to young people. If you suspect a child, young adult, family member, friend, neighbor, employee, co-worker, or any random person may be a possible addict or is being tempted by a drug pusher, do not hesitate to intervene. Irrespective of the humanitarian aspects, drugs and driving do not mix, and combined with heavy alcohol consumption, lead to disaster, with lives that could be wonderfully fulfilled tragically lost because we did not act. The great seventeenth-century poet, John Donne, penned in 1624 one of his finest works entitled, “For Whom the Bell Tolls”, subsequently used by Ernest Hemingway in his novel of that title about the Spanish Civil War. John Donne ends his poem with these resounding words: “Each man’s death diminishes me, For I am involved in mankind. Therefore, send not to know for whom the bell tolls, It tolls for thee”. We should all heed these great words, and let none of us forget that our national drug epidemic involves us all.

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