Earlier this week in California, one person was found dead and four in critical condition following a mass drug overdose at a house in Chico. Despite officers administering both CPR and Narcan upon arrival, one male was pronounced dead at the scene. 12 others were hospitalized, four in critical condition. The culprit of the overdose appears to be the opiate fentanyl in combination with another substance.
Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid pain reliever, has now passed heroin as the drug most often involved in deadly overdoses. It's the same opioid involved in Demi Lovato's recent overdose along with many other high profile cases including Prince, Tom Petty, and Mac Miller.
While the substance itself isn't surprising, the news surrounding it should be. The language of a mass overdose is unlike anything we've ever heard before and signals more than anything an epidemic that desperately needs new solutions. We can't keep rehashing the same tragic details but failing to put verbs in our sentences.
There are solutions that offer to meet our nation where we are and bring about lifesaving innovations like wider spread Narcan training and availability as well as supervised injection facilities. Longer-term initiatives include greater education surrounding drug abuse and addiction in and out of schools and a more open discussion about the realities of addiction and its intersection with mental health.
If nothing else, the least we can do is talk about these headlines.
The more we talk about it, the more attention we give it, the more we bring it out of the shadows, the greater chance we have at solving it and never having to use the term "mass overdose" again.
One thing is for sure — what we are currently doing is not working. And if we know anything as a society, it's that secrets make us sick.