Heroin has an image problem
The most significant factor in the epidemic of opiates related overdose deaths has nothing to do how strong it is. Yes strong dope can kill you especially when it's laced with one of the many horror show opiates being manufactured overseas and shipped here but opiate overdose is survivable. Even if you don't have a Narcon kit (and if you don't shame on you) a person who overdosed can be kept alive a free from significant brain damage with simple rescue breathing. With Narcon you can have a person up and talking to you within minutes and there is more Narcon on the streets and people trained to administer it yet the bodies continue to pile up. The news feeds us more nonsense on how strong the new synthetic on the streets is and we all gasp and tut tut every now and then someone floats some asinine idea like forcing opiates addicted people into detox and possibly rehab.
An idea which is almost certain to increase the number of overdose deaths yet people both in and out of the recovery field jump on board screaming "it's about time" completely ignoring the fact that there is no evidence this will work. I can't blame them really. It's an outcry of people who are watching friends, loved ones, and clients die who desperately want to regain control but it is an illusion of control. Forcing people into a 72 hour detox will undoubtedly raise the body count. Opiate tolerance drops dramatically in three days and a daily heroine user freed after three days despairing for some relief is at very high risk of taking too much. But again it's less about how much the individual takes and more about where the person takes it. Not wanting to disappoint family or risk another 3 day incarceration the individual will likely shoot up alone. Opiate overdose happens quietly and the person will likely appear to have fallen asleep. In the dark no one will notice that the person has stopped breathing, that their lips are turning blue, not until it's too late. Narcon doesn't do a thing when it's in your sock drawer and your son or daughter is dying in an alley. There is a solution. Have them shoot up in your home where you can see them. If that's too much for you we can build clinics for safe injection and even supply the heroin so we know it's safe. This isn't a liberal pipe dream it's been and is being done and the success of such places would drive a call for legalization and implementation of these programs if not for one thing. Heroin has an image problem.
Most other drugs have an iconic image attached to them that is in part or completely positive. Marijuana has the harmless hippy or the cool Rastafarian, cocaine has the driven business man, and booze which kills more people and has always killed more people than heroin and is an epidemic all it's own with deaths from alcohol related diseases rising over 30 percent from 2003 to 2014, booze we tell each other to drink a glass at dinner because "it's good for you." But heroin and people who use it must be stopped. Heroin is so bad we are telling our doctors to stop treating pain and forcing people into programs that increase their risk of death because just sharing a world where people use heroin is simply unacceptable. It probably has something to do with the needles, the needles creep people out, but it probably has more to do with the question of who we think does heroin. The answer is of course "other people" and as long as we continue to believe that no grave digger will go without work.