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As I come to know these fine people, they share with me more of their personal and sensitive stories. Their collective story is what I am trying to share with you as my way of breaking the stereotypical beliefs that exist. "Blog names" have occasionally been given to me by the person whose story I am telling. Names are never their actual names and wherever I can do so, I might use the opposite pronoun (his/her, etc.) just to help increase their privacy.

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Wednesday, May 26, 2021

"What keeps you from going to detox?"

As I begin writing this blog, it's 8:00am on Monday.  'Dakota' has been walking the streets of Kensington most of the night looking to do a few dates so she can buy her 'medicine' to get high or, more likely, to avoid dope sickness.  "The guys who pick up girls on the street are cheap."[1]  She further explains that when a girl has a "regular" who calls her, that guy typically pays much more - $60.00 or more and rarely but sometimes ridiculously more.

In past conversations, Dakota has expressed interest in going to detox.  "This isn't fun anymore."  I don't get high and it's getting harder to make money."  She then shares with me her plan on getting to the local crisis center for the required evaluation the next day.  The next day and then the next week comes and goes and Dakota is still walking the streets looking for dates and buying her medicine.  Annoyance with the situation is obvious in her voice.

This morning, as Dakota was waiting for an as of yet unknown date to pick her up, we were talking on the phone.  I asked her "Without meaning to seem like I'm pushing the idea on you, what keeps you from going to detox?"

She didn't need time to think about it… 

The long wait time, the rudeness of the staff, the need to get high before going in, the need to hide enough drug to inject during a quick trip to the bathroom while waiting to many hours for a bed, the strong possibility that at the end of those hours, being told that there are no beds available in the entire city and to come back the next day.

Her answer was a repeat of everything I've been hearing from other Medicaid-reliant patients with Substance Use Disorder.  Click here to read how one of Dakota's street mates described her experience of trying to get into detox.

The urgency to fix this broken Medicaid system is real and was made crystal clear during this same phone conversation with Dakota (now at 9:00am) about an hour ago.  As we were talking, she was walking and rounded a corner.  In front of her, down the street just a bit, Philadelphia police were attending to a deceased man laying on the sidewalk in a very common location where people go to inject their 'medicine.'  Now an hour later, it's reasonable to presume that there's a family receiving a phone call, that long dreaded phone call, informing them that their loved one has "died of an overdose."

In that exact moment, yes, that son/father/brother/uncle/etc. died of an overdose.  How many times did he try to get help and experience what Dakota's street mate experienced?  Had he ever overdosed before, been saved by Narcan, transported to a local hospital, and then been told by a registered nurse to "Get out of my emergency room!" as had been Allison?

Please click here to continue reading about Dakota's path on this journey.

Kensington Does Not Have an Opioid Crisis!

If opioids didn't exist, we wouldn't have what has been labeled an 'opioid crisis.'  But they do exist and they are on the streets in the form of an inanimate powder that is simply doing what it does.  It's our society's lack of healthy response that is causing the crisis here. 

An inanimate powder cannot change its ways.  It is up to us as a society led by medical professionals who have dedicated their careers to the ideals of Hippocrates to change how we respond to it. 

By making the needed changes ASAP, Dakota can find the healing she desires in a medical setting of prompt dignity and respect. 

Two and a half hours after starting to write this blog, by way of text, Dakota has just this moment told me that she's not yet found even one more date.  This means dope sickness and desire for healing is setting in big time.  She knows that the shorter path to comfort is to keep looking for a date rather than looking to the Medicaid health care system.  And so she walks, stands on street corners, tucks in her nausea[2] for the world not to see and hopes that some guy will pick her up, pay her for some degree of sexual service and then let her go so she can buy her medicine and relieve her pain.

Kensington Does Not Have an Opioid Crisis!

PS: I've known 'Dakota' for a few years now. She's an amazing naturally gifted counselor and my dearest friend.

The final edit of this blog has been approved by Dakota.

{1] Putting that in perspective, Some women might only get $20.00 per date.  If a woman has a drug habit that costs $200.00 per day, that's 10 dates every 24 hours 7 days per week 365 days per year = 3,650 dates per year.  To add to this disturbing number as has been explained to me, about 60% of these guys are married or in committed relationships.  That's 2,190 acts of adultery on the man's part per year per woman who is not getting the detox she desires.

[2] Symptoms of dope sickness – and their intensity – can vary by person, drug of choice, and the amount of drugs used on a regular basis. However, common signs of dope sickness include Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and/or constipation, Loss of appetite/huge return of appetite, Hot and cold flashes, Muscle aches and spasms, The sensation of bugs crawling on or under the skin, Hyper-awareness, Dry mouth, Headaches, Insomnia, Sweating…

These physical effects are often accompanied by mental and emotional symptoms. Those who are dope sick may also experience: Agitation, Anxiety, Paranoia, Frustration, Depression, Despondency

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