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by Peter Moskos

May 22, 2008

Overdose deaths

In 2007, 235 Baltimore residents overdosed. The story in the Sun is here.

Interestingly (and surprisingly), 74 of those were from methadone. I don't quite understand the point of methadone. If it's addictive and you can die from it, why not just give junkies heroin?


gswift said...

My understanding is that methadone is cheap, non toxic, and gives a steady release that smooths out the highs and lows. It's supposed to help an addict get off the needle and make them more functional by avoiding the rush of injection along with the withdrawal later on.

PCM said...

That all makes sense. Especially the "getting off the needle" part. But 74 deaths in a city of 650,000 is huge.

gswift said...

Yeah, my non expert suspicion is that the huge rate of overdoses is linked to the lack of access to proper mental health services. Attempts at self medication with a powerful opioid is bound to have a lot of bad results.

Generic Guy said...

Obviously, methadone isn't being used as prescribed. I would guess that od's occur when combined with other drugs. I don't know how they do it in Baltimore, but probably a combination of methadone, alcohol, plus something else. I don't get why this gets tagged a methadone death, however.

Still, the basic model of a 'medical' alternative to a street drug is a potential back door route to legalization seems reasonable. Legalizing crack or heroin isn't going to get much traction. The pathetic baby boom generation couldn't even legalize pot.

I am still a little amazed at Rhenquist's addiction to Placidyll. You can read about it here: http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1167818524831

Or check wikipedia.

The irony of the Chief Justice ruling on drug cases while heavily using controlled substances (3x recommended max dose) is over the top.

PCM said...

Fascinating about Rehnquist. I had no idea. If you're rich and powerful, you can get away with being a junkie, I guess.

[And if you're rich and powerful, we prefer the term "dependent on drugs." If you're middle class, you're an "addict." If you're poor, you're a "junkie." In the old days, by the way, addicts were called "fiends." I kind of like the old-fashioned terms.]

I think you're take on medical alternatives to street drugs is absolutely right. Maybe the goal should be to get crack and heroin categorized as medicinal so that they could be prescribed. As you know, for me it's all about non-violent distribution.

Also, Generic Guy, any chance you saved a copy of that great review you wrote for me on Amazon? With the re-release of my book, they completely wiped out the old web page and all the reviews.