By John Lynds
Recovery Thoughts, a non-profit that helps addicts get into recovery and stay in recovery, held a Narcan training program at the Marty Pino Community Center in Orient Heights last Wednesday night.
The opiate overdose reversal medication commonly known as Narcan, which reverses the effects of a heroin overdose, is carried by all EMTs and paramedics from Boston EMS but also by Boston Police and members of the Boston Fire Department under the direction of Mayor Martin Walsh.
Recently Narcan was made available to the general public once a citizen undergoes a certification program on how to properly administer the drug.
“The general public can carry as long as they get certified,” said Bay State Community Health Peer Recovery Coach Anthony DeLisi. DeLisi, who is 12 years sober and specializes in working with addicts. “You just never know that you can be in a restaurant having a coffee and someone is in the bathroom overdosing. It could be a neighbor, a neighbor’s kids, a family member or a friend. The bottom line is people are dropping left and right and Narcan saves lives.”
DeLisi said everyone in his family is certified and carries Narcan just in case they need to help an overdose victim.
“If you have a loved one that is addicted I strongly suggest you get certified,” said DeLisi. “Heroin is the drug of choice right now and a cheep way to get high. People are dying from $2 bags of this stuff.”
The scourge of heroin addiction has hit home in the past few years with a rash of deaths and overdoses in Eastie and across the region according to Boston Police. The recent deaths showed the neighborhood is not immune to the growing epidemic and the drug has seemed to become more dangerous due to its purity and the fact it is being cut with fentanyl–an extremely dangerous opiod. Fentanyl is 50 to 100 percent more potent than morphine and 30 to 50 percent more potent than heroin.
Fentanyl and deaths from heroin cut with fentanyl have skyrocketed so much so the state passed special legislation last year to harshly punish fentanyl traffickers. The legislation sets the threshold of fentanyl trafficking at more than ten grams; includes any derivative or mixture containing fentanyl; and authorizes incarceration in state prison for up to 20 years.
“Minute doses of that stuff will kill you plain and simple,” said DeLisi. “There is such an epidemic now that I expected more people would have shown up Wednesday night. Sometimes these things fall on deaf ears but we will continue to hold these trainings in the hopes of getting more and more people involved.”
DeLisi, through his own experience, warned that even if a loved one abusing drugs isn’t hooked yet it is only a matter of time.
“It’s a progression,” he explained. “You start off with pills and then once you build up a tolerance to those and they just are not working anymore you buy a bag of dope for $20 and you are off to the races. Today, if you use heroin three or four days in a row the monkey is on your back and you are done. You’ll be hooked guaranteed.”
The increase in Heroin comes on the tales of increase in opiate painkiller abuse several years ago.
A lot of addicts have switched to heroin once they become addicted to the opiate OxyContin because heroin is very pure these days and in some cases costs only $3.50 a bag.
The problem with OxyContin abuse is the cost. In order to feed a daily habit, abusers will resort to stealing the drugs or commit other crimes, like dealing the painkiller to get their fix. Many times abusers realize they can get the same ‘rush’ from the cheaper and more widely available drug heroin and switch to this street narcotic in order to get high. Again this leads to more crime in the neighborhood as abuses frequently commit robberies or home invasions to fund their habit and more are now dying.
An East Boston resident gets certified in administering the opiate overdose reversal medication commonly known as Narcan. The training was hosted by Recovery Thoughts last Wednesday at the Marty Pino Community Center.
Bay State Community Health Peer Recovery and Coach Anthony DeLisi. DeLisi talks of the importance of getting certified to carry Narcan.
The crowd listens to Bay State Community Health Peer Recovery and Coach Anthony DeLisi. DeLisi before being certified.
Chief of Probation Thomas Tassinari, Anthony DeLisi, Danielle Fernekees, Rep. Adrian Madaro, Nick Moulaison and Recovery Thoughts founder, Julie Lynch