Are We Properly Using our Resources to Treat the Opioid and Drug Crisis?

Last night, after a lovely evening dining with friends, we decided to walk home, past Union Station in Washington, DC. It was a typical Friday evening at the transportation center — commuters heading home, people with luggage arriving and others rushing to catch scheduled trains and busses.

Suddenly, I was blinded by flashing lights from dozens of ambulances. Loud sirens from the emergency vehicles enveloped the atmosphere. My body tensed because I was preparing for a terrorist attack or something along those lines. Especially since, a few days ago, there had been a bomb scare at this very location.

As I walked closer, I noticed the emergency workers treating and transporting homeless men and women through the station onto the ambulances. As I stood there for fifteen minutes, I witnessed a never-ending amount of ambulances and emergency workers picking up and treating people at Union Station.

There was no terrorist attack, nor was there a bomb threat. According to an EMS worker that I spoke to extensively, they were treating people that were on opioids or drugged on synthetic marijuana laced with fentanyl, an opioid used for extreme pain. He stated that there is an epidemic around the city and across the nation with drug abuse. He also said he and his colleagues spend most of their 12-hour shifts picking up and taking drug addicts to the hospital.

He said they would treat an addict to come down from their high for a few hours until they regain their consciousness; only to pick them back up a few hours later on the same day. It was heart wrenching to see so many people strung out on drugs. It also perplexes me that we are using so many ambulances and emergency services in this manner. | AW