PORTLAND, MAINE, surely the most interesting and culturally advanced city in what is rightly called “America’s Vacationland,” has a big drug problem. It’s heroin addiction, and it’s growing. This fact directly contradicts the state motto, “The Way Life Should Be.” Young people stand on just about every street corner of the city’s major thoroughfares wearing glazed expressions and holding cardboard signs declaring their particular plight: Homeless, hungry, this is the best I can do, no job, kids need food, Iraqi war vet, etc. How did things get this bad here?
It’s a long story and you don’t need me to tell it, just look it up online. But one thing I can add is a personal anecdote, which exemplifies how a bad situation keeps getting worse. My hip surgery last August caused me to be hospitalized for 36 hours, after which I was released in my own care. The doctors sent me home with narcotic painkillers, despite the fact that I swore up and down I would never take one: I hate that stuff. But they insisted, warning that I could find myself in a lot of pain on a Saturday night and be helpless to do anything about it. Duly scared I said okay, fine, I’ll take a couple of them just in case. They sent me home with a little jar of 40 Oxycontin pills. Forty! Not two or three or four or five, but 40!
I stored them with the ten Oxycontins I got from my dentist two years ago after a tooth extraction when I told him I didn’t want any. That makes 50. And my husband has quite a few he never wanted leftover from his last surgery, bringing the total to about 70 pills. I have since learned that the street value of all those pills is roughly $20 per pill, or $1,400. (I could turn them in to the police department, but since I have no children living at home I’m saving them in case the armies of ISIS make their way to Freeport, at which point I will swallow them all.)
As for the city’s heroin problem, which allegedly starts with an Oxycontin addiction, I wonder what gives. What’s with all the prescriptions? Are the physicians getting a kickback from the drug companies? Are the pharmacies also in on it?
— Andrea Rouda
Andrea Rouda blogs at The Daily Droid.