The heroin epidemic is not just getting bigger, but it is also getting uglier than ever before.
This week, in small town Pennsylvania, two young adults were charged with recklessly endangering another person when they left a heroin overdose victim on the side of the road in Manheim Township, PA.
Julia Slaymaker, 19, and Nathan Rosenberry, 23, were quickly spotted by passerby’s as they took the victim out of their car and placed him along the edge of the road. Shortly after leaving the victim, the two individuals were apprehended by police after a witness provided them with a description of the vehicle.
Upon apprehension, Slaymaker was found with two small baggies of heroin on her person. Both she and Rosenberry were taken into custody. As for the victim, first responders quickly made it to the scene and were able to transport the individual to the hospital for further treatment.
Why is This Happening?
Despite the obvious assumption that Slaymaker and Rosenberry were under the influence of heroin and made the poor decision to leave their overdosing acquaintance along the side of the road, one might wonder what would prompt someone to do such a thing. Unfortunately, however, there are a number of reasons why these horrific events are still occurring, despite efforts to reduce them.
For example, there is an immense amount of negative stigma that encapsulates heroin abuse and overdose. Despite research showing that addictions of all kinds (including heroin addiction) are mental illnesses that require professional care, people still view it as being a choice – and associate specific types of people with its abuse. As a result, there often comes a great deal of shame, guilt and embarrassment when the consequence of abuse rears its ugly head (such as when a friend or loved one overdoses).
There is also a major fear that anyone who is associated with someone who is abusing heroin and overdoses will also face legal repercussions if they come forward and try to get their loved one immediate, urgent care. This fear is most commonly found amongst other users who are concerned that they will be busted for their own personal use and/or possession of the substance.
Luckily, however, both of these common reasons behind poor decision making such as the one out of PA are expected to be on the outs. In many states, legislation has been put into motion that protects those who do come forward and bring a loved one who is overdosing from heroin to an emergency room or other facility to get help. In addition, substance abuse continues to yield an enormous amount of awareness that helps people from all walks of life understand that heroin addiction is a disease and that treatment is required.