Why Not Just Let Them All Die? ~ VALLEY PATRIOT EDITORIAL (July, 2019)


July, 2019

In the process of posting breaking news on The Valley Patriot Facebook and Twitter pages we often encounter reader comments that evoke serious emotion, discussion, and debate.

Earlier this month, we posted a story of the Lawrence Fire Dept. searching for a reported overdose victim off Manchester Street. First responders searched for the overdose victim so they could administer the drug NARCAN, a substance that literally brings someone back to life after taking a deadly dose of heroin. Eventually they learned that another addict had administered NARCAN and the OD victim went on their way.

Several of our readers took the position that we should not be wasting the time, money, and resources of our police and fire to bring heroin addicts back to life.

“Why not just let them die? They are just going to go out and do it again,” one reader opined.

Still others chimed in saying that those who choose to take drugs are not worth keeping alive, as they are a constant drain on our community, commit crimes, and obviously don’t want to get clean anyway.

It’s a view that is all too common as our culture struggles to deal with an opioid epidemic that is transforming even the most affluent communities into havens for drug dealers, homelessness, and crime.

Why not let them die?

It’s true that most of the homeless addicts (and even the non-homeless addicts) do not want to get help. They are so physically dependent on the heroin or fentanyl, that food and water become secondary needs to getting their next fix.

We see it all too often as police officers sometimes have to administer NARCAN to the same individuals over and over on a daily basis, only to have them go right back out searching again for their next high.

If you talk to most of these individuals they will tell you outright they do not want to go to detox, they do not want to get clean, and they do not want to change the direction of their lives. They just want to get high.

It’s a hard fact to wrap your head around, but it only shows the power that heroin and fentanyl have over their minds and bodies.

What we also learn when we talk to these addicts over a period of time, however, is that they are not willing to get help or change their lifestyle … RIGHT NOW.

At some point, every addict hits rock bottom where they realize they cannot do it anymore. They will then either – kill themselves – or make the decision to reach out to someone for help.

Using NARCAN to bring a dead addict back to life gives these individuals one more day to make that decision. It gives them one more day of life to – maybe – hit rock bottom so they will finally be ready to get clean.

It’s frustrating for the families, the police, the fire departments, the EMTs, the hospital workers, and the volunteers in our communities who try every day to get these people the help they need. It’s even more frustrating for the uneducated public who bear the expense and the societal effects of so many heroin and fentanyl addicts plaguing their communities.

But, these are human beings. They are someone’s daughters, sons, husbands, mothers, fathers, and sadly grandfathers.

As a community we surely need to do a better job trying to prevent people from taking heroin and other addictive drugs in the first place. But, where we fail to do so, we must also do a better a job of understanding the incredible grip these drugs have over a person’s mind and body.

We have to have patience. And if that means administering NARCAN 100 times before a person is ready to get clean, then that is what we have to do. What’s more, we have to understand that most addicts fail at rehab half a dozen times before they finally get clean. Failure only means they need to try again. And they need our help to do so. We have to let the addicts know that while they are not ready to change, RIGHT NOW … when they are ready, help is available.

Sure it’s easy to say, ‘let them die’.

But, we shouldn’t be willing to throw these lives away simply because it is easier for the rest of us – simply because it will save money and resources.

Every life is precious. No matter how hard it is to get the addicts to see the value of their own lives. We have to keep trying!

Otherwise, what have we become as a society? ◊



The Valley Patriot is a free monthly print newspaper serving Northern Massachusetts, and Southern New Hampshire. The print edition is published by the 10th of each month and is distributed to 51 cities and towns.

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4 Responses to Why Not Just Let Them All Die? ~ VALLEY PATRIOT EDITORIAL (July, 2019)

  1. A Reply

    July 14, 2019 at 5:59 PM

    I just say stop saving them and put the money where it belongs stopping it from being imported into this country. It’s a drain on taxpayers.

  2. E. Philip Brown Reply

    July 15, 2019 at 4:37 AM

    I thought that people who were a danger to themselves or others could be hospitalized without their consent. Why are opioid addicts who are overdosing exempt from this policy? I suspect that it had more to do with lack of funding than public healthcare policy.

  3. Kathleen Laplante Reply

    July 16, 2019 at 4:01 PM

    A very moving and effective piece. So right on. It’s interesting. There are many overlaps with reactions to drug addiction, suicide, and killing human beings in the womb. Folks opposed to their respective prevention efforts give similar justification for killing everyone off:

    – “Why not just let them die? They are just going to go out and do it again.” This refers to drug addicts but it easily could apply to repeat suicide attempters or mothers getting pregnant again and again].”
    – “[Prevention efforts] are wasting the time, money, and resources.” This was said re: drug addicts, but it is also said about crisis pregnancies and repeat suicide attempters.

    I hold onto these thoughts:
    – “But, these are human beings. They are someone’s daughters, sons, husbands, mothers, fathers, and sadly grandfathers.”
    – Those working suicide prevention tell people, “Suicide is a permanent solution to a short term problem.” That can be said of drug overdose and abortion too.

  4. William Ellis jr Reply

    July 19, 2019 at 10:08 AM

    What most non-addicts fail to recognize is that the majority of addicts are not doing the drug simply to”Get High” they are trying to escape the pain of some emotional trama! Then they are faced with a broken system that makes rebuilding their lives in sobriety seem nearly imposible! Rather than condem the addict to death mabey we should fix the system that feeds the hopelessness that they already feel.

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