So, Should Heroin Be Legalized?

Almost 70 bags of heroin were found in Philip Seymour Hoffman’s apartment along with syringes, prescription drugs, and other drug paraphernalia. Hoffman was no tourist in the lifestyle.

According to the NY Post, investigators are also trying to find the drug dealer who supplied the actor with the heroin. Timothy Bugge, the new commanding officer of Manhattan South Narcotics, sent out an alert to supervisors trying to find the source of heroin labeled “Ace of Spades,” or “Ace of Hearts.” So who is the culprit; was it the source supplying the heroin or the troubled actor who consumed the heroin? Isn’t the source arbitrary in the case where a multimillionaire had a sad, insatiable appetite, and enough money to fund it? The answer is both; a great deal has to do with the type of heroin being sold on the streets.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, overdoses have been on the rise in the U.S. Drug overdose deaths increased by 102 percent between 1999 and 2010. Jeff Deeney, former user and writer for the Atlantic stated that, “Overdoses become advertisements for strong product.”

I can tell you that it’s particularly dangerous out there right now. Recently, an unpredictable and hard-to-track bad batch of Fentanyl-tainted heroin dipped and dodged its way through the mid-Atlantic: Camden, Philadelphia, moving west to Lebanon, Pennsylvania, and now Pittsburgh. It also popped up to the south in Baltimore. Health practitioners in North Philly are getting bombarded with faxes from the Centers for Disease Control about the bad bags working their way around the streets, with instructions to warn their patients who might be using. Fentanyl-tainted bags go fast; ironically, when news of a batch laying users low spreads on the streets, heavy users seek the potent bags out by their brand stamp.

In the Atlantic article, the argument is presented that legalizing heroin could have saved Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s life; such as an American version of Insite, Vancouver’s celebrated, medically supervised, legal injecting space.

If Philip Seymour Hoffman had taken his last bags to a legal injecting space, would he still be alive? Had he overdosed there, medical staff on call might have reversed it with Naloxone. Had he acquired an abscess or other skin infection, he could have sought nonjudgmental medical intervention. Perhaps injection site staff could have directed him back to treatment.

The answer to that question is “yes” and “no.” “Yes,” if that scenario would have occurred it would have saved Hoffman’s life. But, “no,” in the age of TMZ, Twitter, and iPhones, a famous Oscar winning actor would never go to a public legal injecting space to consume heroin.

What are your thoughts? Do you think heroin should be legalized? Could a legal injecting space have saved Hoffman’s life? Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments below.

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