These kinds of alerts are becoming increasingly common and tracking overdoses in order to prevent subsequent fatalities is an important part of an appropriate public health response. But should we be worried that every time we issue warnings about a ‘bad’ batch of heroin, we are reinforcing the notion that there’s such a thing as a ‘good’ batch or ‘safe’ heroin? That labels and stamps don’t change? Heroin is an illicit drug that has passed through thousands of hands before it gets to the end user and whether or not that batch of heroin has been contaminated with fentanyl or something else, it can kill you.
And while we’re at it, every alert and every news clip about these “bad” batches of heroin should include information about the signs and symptoms of overdose and contain links and numbers where folks who are struggling with a substance use disorder can get help for the disease that puts them at risk for overdose in the first place.
Here’s a quick book recommendation detailing America’s opioid and heroin crisis and how we got here: Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic