Addicted and left behind: the opioid epidemic killing African Americans



-I've wasted so much time,
so many years of my life. Morning.
Night sweats. Sometimes the simplest thing —
You just wish you didn't sweat. And, of course,
I'm in an older — I'm older. As an addict, have no business
still getting high. I look at my family's
photo album. I'm not a part of any of that. I've missed out on my kids'
life, and up to now, the drugs
are still in the way and still very much
a part of my life. I'm like, "Really? Been doing this close
to 30 years? My God." Whatever cut they put on it,
I don't like it. And, see, that's how you roll
the dice every single day. Waste the money —
Well, I'm glad you didn't — I moved from Baltimore to DC
trying to escape the lifestyle with the drugs
that I was living. I thought that it would
be better. You go there, you don't know
anybody, and they have drugs, but in the capital,
I bet, not that much. But I was so wrong. So very wrong. -We really want you to — to go completely
without using street drugs, 'cause you never know when
you're gonna get a bad batch. Have you ever overdosed? The District is
somewhat different from what we're seeing
on the national news because of the demographics
of the city. We're somewhere between 40%
and 50% African American, and our population in general, in the
African-American community, opioids have been around
for a long time. Did you ever use pills
starting out? -Mnh-mnh.
-Or was it — It was heroin
from the very beginning? -It was heroin
from the very beginning. When I first did it,
I was in love with it. -So, we have a residual effect
with many having survived 30, 40, 50 years,
and along came Fentanyl, which is a synthetic
that's 100 times more potent. And once that was added
to the heroin supply, then what we previously saw as
a very stable group of patients, all of a sudden, we started
getting a rash of overdoses beginning about three
or four years ago. [ringing] -Hey.
What's up? -Oh, man,
you don't sound too good. -Well, at my age, yeah, I might.
-Oh. Where you at, then? Talk to me.
-[speaking indistinctly] -All right,
I'll be there in a bit. I need some things.
All right. -All right. -Just made a couple phone calls
just to, you know, get situated,
to start my day. Like this cup of coffee and bags
of blow go hand in hand. You might want to start
your business with your coffee. I don't want a bag of blow
in a cup. -I snort heroin and cocaine. It's something that I have to do
on a daily basis to just be all right
and to be normal. I don't even do it trying to get high.
– โ™ช You build it up,
you tear it down โ™ช -I look at Sam,
I look at other people — the skin on your body,
how very awful and terrible it makes you look. Me sticking myself
just for a thrill, I can wait. I'll use my nostrils, you know? Which isn't much better,
'cause I have burnt-up tissue. -Ooh-wee. They're out there talking. -Don't make it toxic, please. I've been arrested for
the same crimes over and over. I've been in jail
for credit-card fraud. I've been in jail
for shoplifting, possession of drugs,
attempt to distribute. I've prostituted myself. What motivated me? The drug — "Get your ass up now and go do
what you need to do for us." That's exactly the motivation. You know, the drugs — It will not allow you
to set it aside. "You can't put me
on the back burner. Here I am again." You know? -Okay, I got to wash
my hands after this. -45 minutes. -I always thought it myself,
why I keep using. It's not the relief — Well, yeah, it is the relief
of a lot of stress and pressure, but it's more of a thing where
you're just trying to get — don't want to feel shit. Like, that's all. -All I have is for some
in clean and sober housing. I'm getting ready to transition
to some questions about this. When was the last time you had
a drink or used any drugs? -Uh, like New Year's. The problem right now
is getting something, topping, and not knowing
what you're getting. -Are you able to provide
three professional references? We would need —
-I've seen people overdose. I mean, it's a daily —
it's a daily thing around here. Sometimes, if you're lucky,
the Narcan — If they get to you
in time enough, you know, that's definitely a blessing. -He got something,
it was a two-bedroom, right? -Where?
Where? -Well, he got one on —
right here on — -What did he say? I don't want nobody standing
in front of your door. -He was cool I'm telling you. The feeling — You never know. You don't know you're
overdoing nothing. It ain't like — Matter of fact, the first time
it happened to me, actually, I was sitting
on the side of the bed, I had put the narcotics in me,
and I sat back down, and I was conversating —
me and my girl, we talking. "Yeah, you know, how you feel?"
"That feels all right." "Everything all right?"
"Yeah. You cool?"
"Yeah." So I got up, and pop! The next thing — I'll tell you,
it was just like that. It was lights off.
Pay for the other animal. -A small turtle. I immediately called
the ambulance. They came up in the room,
and smacking him and stuff, and they said,
"Do you know what's going on? Is he a diabetic?
Blah, blah, blah." "He is an addict." -The turtle guy's
bringing you home. -"And I believe
what he just had" — and I showed them the needle,
I showed them everything. You know, some people be like,
"No, the police are gonna come. The blah, blah, blah." It's like, if the man dies
on my watch, how am I gonna explain
to his family, to — you know,
"Well, what happened? You didn't do anything?"
You know? And I thought about that,
and I just couldn't — You know, that's my heart. It's like my other arm
or something, you know? So I couldn't —
I couldn't even fathom — I couldn't even think of just,
you know, going on with life,
you know, without him. -I don't know how —
It just changed the water. You know, turtle world
is different than humans. As the Narcan, it got used,
and I woke up. You couldn't tell me
that I went out or nothing, but at the same reality of it,
that's what happened. -I got a whole heap of Narcan.
I hate that he does intravenous, but if he insists on doing it,
then I insist on having Narcan. Definitely at a clinic. Somebody sells them. He overdosed before I got
the Narcan. But the day that I seen the guy
selling them, "Right here." All right.
-You need Narcan today? -No. -Which of these substances
have you overdosed on? -All right.
[speaking indistinctly] -Okay. -So, we've been a part
of the pilot program for the last couple years in DC
to distribute the Narcan. So we service probably
a couple-hundred people a month just for education and outreach. Our kits don't go that far,
but we definitely do the education
and have those encounters. -No. -We're showing people out there
how to use Narcan responsibly, but now the city is telling us that we don't have
any more funds for this. What do you mean, you don't have
no more funds for this? This is saving people's lives, so if you don't have any more
funds for this, what do they do? -I ran into some Fentanyl. It was about 15 after 8:00, got
comfortable, and did my thing. Next time I woke up,
it was about 12:30. -Yeah, man, let me give you
a sticker today, man. There you go. Good job today.
-Yeah. But that Fentanyl —
When they see that, they know
you don't want no Fentanyl. -No, I don't want no Fentanyl
at all, because last — last night, whew,
it scared me. Oh, my God. -I think some progress
has been made, but it's been frustrating
because I think the progress could have been
made a lot sooner. We actually went from
a number 19 per capita in overdose deaths
to number 4, which is — a statistic in and of itself
is like a barometer. It tells the whole story —
that you haven't done enough. -It's hard to work on this surge when things surge so fast
over a couple years. You have to re-tool
and think about how you're gonna
do things differently. But we've been serving out
substance use population for a long time here
in the District. Now we're trying to do it
a little bit better and a little bit more
intentional based upon this just rise in numbers. -If you're feeling crushed
this morning, if you're feeling
like your life maybe has not turned out
the way that you had hoped, why don't you just
surrender your life this morning to the potter? -I want Sam and I to come
to a place where we both realize
that this isn't the way it's supposed to be,
this isn't life. We're just existing.
– โ™ช Happy in your love โ™ช -God has given us
the gift of life, and sometimes I just feel like
I'm not showing Him how grateful
that I am for life. -It's important for us
to be able to look in the mirror and to see all of those
bad habits that we have. -No, I want to stop.
I want to stop. It's like I'm afraid. I don't know what's
around the corner. -They turn to drugs
and they turn to alcohol, and they try and find out, "Where can I find relief
from my weariness?" -And, really, not — "Afraid" is the
wrong word again. It's my belief in God is strong. Mm.
[sniffs] Yeah. I'm sorry, I almost dozed off
right there. Yeah. Excuse me.

47 comments

  1. They talking about white people and their problems. They have solutions. We don't. Breaks my heart to see this sister hurting

  2. They're trying to turn this into a black/white Heroin/crack thing. it isnt. Big pharma is killing white/black/asian/indian everyday. LOCK UP THE SACKLER FAMILY and shut down Purdue pharma!!!

  3. Through my youngest years i use to see lots of people abusing opioids also bragged about it just for pleasure. Years later i went down with an injury needed two surgeries and opioid was the only thing that worked after the fact. Right After a week of taking it my body told me i could handle the pain and i stopped. 8 years later I'm doing ๐Ÿ‘ 8 years later lost so many# from ๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‘€๐Ÿ™ˆ

  4. White media (or white-owned media in blackface) always tries to find a black narrative/angle to project THE LIES THEY TELL. NO! deal with the fact that your people are under JUDGEMENT…period! This epidemic is taking white America out in unprecedented numbers. So stop trying to deny and deflect from what is really being reported. Blacks account for a small percentage of opioid/fentanyl/heroin/meth addiction in comparison to whites. We lived our hell through the 80's crack epidemic with NO sympathy or support from white America – now you live yours.

  5. These are Vietnam War era junkies who have always been around.ย  Nothing new here.ย  Nobody has ever cared about them.ย  The epidemic is in White communities.

  6. The most drugged out states are ,Maine, Vermont, Connecticut, etc…NOT CHICAGO, ATLANTA, MEMPHIS, OR INDIANAPOLIS OK..FAKE NEWS CHANNEL, BEWARE!!!

  7. Lmao… naaaaa. This a white problem. Addiction rate is 10 to 1 in ratio. I know white america hate the truth staring them in the face

  8. If people would put Love in their life for Self and Others they wouldn't have this problem.
    Peace Love and Understanding.

  9. It's a white problem. Black opioid use is nowhere near the numbers as whites. it's their epidemic, not ours. They are trying to change the narrative to shift the spotlight on them to stereotype black people (what's new?). They have to make us the junkies, to keep up their white supremacy. This problem is not going away it will decimate their numbers. Perhaps they should concentrate on that, rather than trying to stigmatise black people with THIER problem. not happening this time!! they better own it. They are pathetic. Their time is up and they know it.

  10. As usual, blacks claim this is a white problem. But when some whites behave badly, blacks dial it up to 11 and do it better, then deny their community has a problem. Good job.

  11. This news story is so staged and faked i cringe, if you can't see how scripted and overacted this is you're stupid.

  12. Not true… ILLEGAL STREET DRUGS are killing African Americans… No one is dying who is taking their medications as prescribed so stop your ignorant propaganda please….

  13. She thought that sheโ€™ll get away from drugs by moving from Baltimore to DC???!!! ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚Terrible decision.

  14. Heroin is a white drug not a black one. Itโ€™s sad when you have to make a video seem like a minority is the victim to gain sympathy

  15. WHY use both Heroin AND Crack??? Either you want to be up, or you want to be down… Can someone explain, please? I know why they'd have to use Heroin every day, they have to get well. But I don't understand using both. ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿผโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿผโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿผโ€โ™€๏ธ

  16. Washington post deliberately releasing this as there was a wave of people saying its karma for white people. WP you cant spin it no matter how hard you try. There may be some black opioid users, but its vastly a white mans thing,

  17. The worthless will filter themselves out. You choose your path, it sucks it kills, but not good peoples problem. Let them die.

  18. Should I feel bad? Sheโ€™s an addict. I canโ€™t feel bad for someone on heroin. God help them but I canโ€™t

  19. Lol at the ages on these folks. These are old junkies from the 1970s and 1980s who are now being felled by fentanyl. Any young black kid ODing on dope today believes it is cocaine. They are still targeting us with dope like they did in the 1960s and 1970s

  20. BUILD THE WALL!! STOP drugs from flowing into this country!! Stop the nonsense!! Our tax dollars being wasted away on rehab!! Take a breathe grunt real hard and BUILD THE WALL!!! Victims of POOR IMMIGRATION CONTROL!!

  21. I've been clean over two years so I'm not defending the drug. But being sober has made me realize that my parents generation has destroyed this country. Even with a college education you can barely feed yourself let alone buy a house and raise a family of four. We're just racked with more regulation more law enforcement more taxation less employment opportunities. We're working 60 hour weeks to barely scrape by. If you don't want people to use drugs you need to provide them with the opportunity to have a fulfilling life. Not choke the last dying breath out of the middle class and then criminalize any sense of euphoria.. ย just FYI

  22. 8 out of 10 overdoses deaths in this country are white. The media just wants to try to level that statistic out because to many whites are dying. Don't buy it!

  23. GLORY TO THE ALMIGHTY AND BLESSING BE TO THESE BEAUTIFUL AMAZING PEOPLE! GOD DELIVER US FROM EVIL. Romans 8:31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

    With God we are more than conquerors.

  24. So strange that woman started off with Heroin. Thatโ€™s very uncommon, most people start with prescription pills. ๐Ÿค” I wish them the best.

  25. African american do drugs to cope white Caucasian american do the for recreation then it barrels over into addiction. The latter is not every case but its the main reason.

  26. I've tried to help addicts, but these people, more often than not, are just hopeless. The saddest thing I've had to learn is you simply can't help those who are unwilling to change. They enjoy the instant gratification far too much to put it off for the betterment of their future selves. I do understand it. I have the tools to overcome hedonism and malevolence. We must sacrifice our desires to have a life worthwhile. Nothing worthwhile can be acquired without self-imposed discipline. Many addicts lack willpower and there's a great deal of root causes for that. I'm watching a dear friend destroy himself with opiate abuse. I've tried to help, but I've come to terms with knowing I'm ultimately powerless when he has no will to overcome. It pains me greatly to give up on him, but I simply have to for my own mental fitness.

  27. these old people didn't even grew up listening hip hop, now can you imagine how the current black generation is going to be in the future with all the lean, xanax etc. being promoted? yeah, the african race in general is DOOMED!

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