Adam Blaustein Rejto
We are living through a drug overdose epidemic. This is not meant to be a sensational statement, but a fact; each year, death from the use of opioids—prescription narcotics, heroin, and substitutes for heroin like fentanyl—increases in nearly every county in the United States. In recent years, as drug addiction has come to affect more white and suburban communities, there has even been a degree of recognition among some local and regional law enforcement bodies (scattershot and belated though it may be) that it may be worth at last addressing drug mortality as a public health issue and not only an endless war against foreign syndicates. However, this response has not been adequate, and the epidemic continues. So we encourage you to do what you can to know the resources that are available here at Hampshire, and to spread this information as far and wide as you are able.
It’s difficult to talk about addition. It’s especially difficult to talk about substance abuse, and it gets even worse when we’re talking about needle drugs, such as heroin. Whether we acknowledge it or not, most of us know someone who uses. The problem is close to home. New England has been described as a “cradle” of the heroin epidemic, lying between the mid-Atlantic cities from whence the drugs are distributed en masse and the northern clients that often come to Massachusetts to purchase them. Nearby I-91 is now one of many major highways in America to earn the nickname “Heroin Highway.”
Ask yourself, how many folks do you know who use needle drugs?
This article isn’t about shaming or scaring you. We are writing this because we want those who read it to ask themselves, “how many people do I know who use heroin?” Because we rarely think about it. It can be difficult to think about. However, there is presently a wave of drugs being cut with carfentanil, a tranquilizer one hundred times more potent than fentanyl, the inadvertent use of which can be terrifically deadly. If you or a friend, or a friend of a friend is using, please share these resources. Not to say: here, take this and fix yourself. But so that these resources are visible and available for them to use if they decide they have to.
The phone number for Health and Counseling services at Hampshire is (413) 559-5458. This number can be used 24 hours a day, seven days a week to get in touch with a counselor, and Health Services is a useful intermediate resource for anyone trying to figure out how and where to seek treatment. Any student on campus can request Narcan, an emergency drug that is capable of reversing the effects of an overdose, from Health Services, and can receive it without a prescription.
The Massachusetts Substance Abuse and Information Helpline can be reached at (800) 327-5050. This is a dedicated helpline you can use to get information, review options, and obtain referrals from specialists. Interpreters are available in 140 languages and some resources for friends and family members can be found at http://helpline-online.com
Hampshire HOPE is a Hampshire County organization that attempts to help people treat and recover from heroin addiction, They provide an extensive list of hotlines, clinics, and programs at their website, http://www.hampshirehope.org/, and can be contacted at (413) 587-1219.
Finally, we encourage you to get in touch with Diane Fedorchak of the UMass Collegiate Recovery Community and Center by phone at (413) 577-5188 or email at email@example.com. The Recovery Center is not formally operating this year, but Diane is still looking to make connections between students in recovery who are seeking or able to provide support, and is interested in hearing from students and staff who want to do the same.
A PDF listing local programs, treatment centers, and crisis hotlines will be made available on our website, and can also be obtained by contacting Health Services.