In this week's paper I write about the ridiculously tragic story of Cody Spafford, who died in a hail of police bullets last week after robbing a bank. His friends and co-workers say they realized after his death he was struggling with a heroin addiction. Some question why the police killed him. He was a talented, up-and-coming chef, and now he's just gone.
The larger context here is the rise of heroin nationwide. From 2006 to 2012, the number of first-time users of heroin nearly doubled. The AP is launching a series about heroin today, profiling a 21-year-old whose life has been all but swallowed up by the drug, and in another article, outlining how hard it is to get treatment, especially in New York: "There are no beds in packed facilities, treatment is hugely expensive and insurance companies won't pay for inpatient rehab."
As I mentioned in the story, UW researcher Caleb Banta-Green recommends stopoverdose.org and points out that a heroin user or a concerned friend can get Narcan (naloxone), which stops imminent overdoses, at several Seattle-area syringe exchanges for free. There's also King County's Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention Program.
But beyond that, if you know someone dealing with drug addiction, love that person as much as possible. "Judging someone and telling them they're bad and evil will only push them into deeper isolation," Shilo Murphy, from the People's Harm Reduction Alliance, told me. "The biggest thing is, love them and never leave contact with them... sometimes that means allowing them to be an everyday drug user for a while. You always want them to know that you're there, so there's a way out of whatever complex they're having."