May 25, 2017

An Important Conversation About The Opioid Crisis in Winston

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Sometimes you find wisdom in an unexpected place, such as The Less Desirables podcast. The Less Desirables normally discusses craft beer and pop culture. But the May 1o, 2017 Less Desirables podcast features an hour-long interview with local legal advocate Kerri Singler. It’s a must listen. It’s an illuminating oral history of Winston’s ongoing opioid crisis. Singler is brilliant.

Listening to her describe opioid addiction is like a Ted Talk, public service announcement, and comedy hour rolled into one. I encourage everyone to listen to her interview on The Less Desirables and share it on social media. This deserves to go viral!

Heroin and opioid addiction are constantly in the news these days. But there are limits to what you or I can learn about opioid addiction from The Winston-Salem Journal. Singler, a former public defender, now working in private practice, has seen first hand the lives that opioid addiction has destroyed. She’s talked to cops, coroners, and addicts enough to know the facts on the group, perhaps better than anyone in our city.

 

Representing numerous clients over the last several years who are addicted to Heroin has changed Singler’s life. The experience has transformed Singler into an advocate for addicts, a maligned group that desperately needs advocates. Singler is currently leading a local effort to re-establish a drug court in Forsyth County. Forsyth County’s adult drug treatment court was discontinued in 2011, according to The Winston-Salem Journal, when state funds dried up and the city and county refused to fund it themselves.

Singler has a talent for humanizing our current opioid crisis. She describes drug addiction in terms that even squares can relate to. Her interview on The Less Desirables contains numerous references to clients she has seen lose everything and their struggles to remain clean and out of jail.

Another great thing about Kerri Singler’s interview on The Less Desirables is Singler’s forthrightness. She’s not afraid to call out Big Pharma or the local D.A. to a lesser degree. After all, the reason that there are so many Heroin addicts today is because of the systematic campaign on the part of Big Pharma to flood the market with opioids like Oxycontin in recent years. When the government finally clamped down on “pill mills” and doctors that handed out opioid prescriptions like candy, opioid addicts turned to Heroin.

Singler is merciless in her criticism of Big Pharma and rightfully so. Their lie, that opioids aren’t addictive if used for legitimate pain management is akin to Big Tobacco’s lie that nicotine isn’t addictive. R.J. Reynolds and the other merchant of death corporations that comprise Big Tobacco have paid a hefty financial price for their deception. The 1998, Master Settlement Agreement between Big Tobacco and 46 states has cost Big Tobacco tens of billions of dollars. It’s time that Big Pharma had some of its ill-gotten gains clawed back as well. As Singler works to defend the rights of drug addicts, let’s remember that Big Pharma shouldn’t go unpunished for turning so many of its patients into addicts.

Kerri Singlar’s interview on The Less Desirables is the best hour-long description of the opioid epidemic that I have found. Again, I encourage everyone to listen to Singler’s interview, educate themselves and others about the dangers of opioids and then advocate for public policies that help, rather than harm drug addicts.

 

*Image is of Southern Etiquette, a photo essay on display at the Urban Survivers Union, Greensboro chapter.

 

 

 

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