By Lev Facher Jan. 17, 2023
Increased injection drug use has led to a spike in cases of the life-threatening heart condition endocarditis, with cases rapidly accelerating since the onset of Covid-19.
The increased case count is one of the lesser-known side effects of the deadly addiction epidemic. But patients with endocarditis, an inflammation of the heart lining caused by infection, require complex, thoughtful care — care that the U.S. health system is ill-equipped to provide.
With drug deaths hovering at an all-time high and endocarditis cases among drug users up nearly tenfold in the last decade, physicians, researchers, and health officials have begun to confront the problem with more urgency. In particular, doctors are coming to terms with a basic reality: Their hospitals often have few protocols for treating endocarditis patients who use opioids and the withdrawal they’ll likely experience upon admission.
Between 2011 and 2022, the rate of new endocarditis among patients with opioid use disorder increased dramatically, according to new research published by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and scientists at Case Western Reserve University. Among drug users, most endocarditis infections stem from the use of non-sterile syringes, allowing bacteria to enter the bloodstream and, eventually, the heart.
Among people with opioid use disorder, the rate of endocarditis jumped from 4 per million per day to 30 per million per day. The sharpest increase occurred between 2021 and 2022
Such care is complicated to begin with. But for patients with addiction, each of those steps adds a new layer of complexity — in particular, lengthy hospital stays and ensuing withdrawal for patients accustomed to regular opioid use.
“You have someone that has very strong physical dependence to opioids, they go into the hospital, and they go into withdrawal, and that withdrawal can be very, very severe,” Nora Volkow, NIDA’s director and the co-author of the recent study, said in an interview. “They may leave the hospital against medical advice, because they’re not being treated for the severity of the withdrawal symptoms.”
Even when patients’ withdrawal is treated, Volkow said, patients “stay throughout the whole hospitalization as needed — and then they get released with no linkage to treatment or care.”
Keeping patients in the hospital, however, is only half the battle. In cases where patients remain in treatment, many still don’t receive the resources they need, or the expertise their care requires.
Even once patients’ infection and heart condition has been addressed, discharging them from the hospital can present unique challenges. Many of those who inject drugs are also experiencing dangerous or unpredictable housing situations, and those whose addictions remain untreated often quickly return to use.
For complete article Serious heart inflammation spikes amid injection drug crisis - STAT (statnews.com)
(Dalgarno Institute Comment: “Walking” into drug use is easier and easier; With Harm Reduction mantras of ‘personal liberties’ ‘rights to use in one’s own body – autonomy’ and ‘right’ to health care, all with impunity, bludgeoning the surrounding culture into compliance with faux pity declarations, that are all masking this growing anarchy.
So, what is the response to this convoluted, intricate, and intensive care required mess?
To continue to enable, equip, empower and by default completely endorse, ongoing drug use.
- More syringes
- Drug Consumption Rooms
- Greater permission models, both tacit and direct, with weakened policy and legislation.
- Continuing drug use
- No facilitated path to exiting drug use
These, as all pro-drug activists know, will actively undermine both Demand and Supply Reduction policies and practices, enabling the chaos that is dependency and addiction to grow – and glibly spruiking to the uninformed non-drug user that… “see prevention doesn’t work, just make it a health issue and we’ll fix these incidental unpleasant anomalies with the health care system!”
Of course, the black hole of public health debt just keeps growing as many of the short and long term harms of drug use assault the health and welfare system with inexorable demands – not least permanent negative mental and physical health outcomes.
Ah, then comes the well scripted… “See, if you legalise drugs and sell them, the revenues can be used to pay for this humanity diminishing and destroying outcomes”. The obvious answer in this article context is that opioids, for the most part, are legal but are being misused. So, there is not ‘revenue stream’ from this nightmare. Touting the cannabis option will fail too, as we have now seen in US and Canada that no such revenues eventuate, but to the contrary, even greater expenses are incurred.
- Up In Smoke – The Californian Legalization Disaster
- No State Successful in Regulating Marijuana
- Economic & Social Costs of Legalizing Marijuana
- Then There were Three – Marijuana Markets paper
When we ask the following questions in forums, the answers are always silence or in the negative.
- Does anyone here believe their children or grandchildren will be better off on illicit drugs?
- Does anyone here believe their children or grandchildren will be better off with easier access to illicit drugs?
Our movement has interacted of many decades with thousands of individuals and families who all too well know the utter grief that drug use brings. Many of those voices were heard and recorded in Federal House of Representatives Standing Committee on Family and Human Services Report – The impact of illicit drug use on families in 2007, but have been ostensibly ignored.
We know prevention and demand reduction work – Tobacco decline in Australia has proved that. When all of the community – Government, Education, Health, Media and Community sectors act with One Focus, One Message and One Voice, change happens.
We did it with Tobacco, with Litter, with seat belts, speed limits and the list goes on. You don’t reduce demand by prohibiting on paper and permitting in practice, that cognitive dissonance right there undermines public will.
The health harms of tobacco pale next to the health, well-being, familial and safety harms of illicit drug use – so what is stopping us, stopping this?
The War We Never Fought – a Review of Journalist Peter Hitchens Book.
By Dalgarno Institute Communications Team