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Heroin’s New Reach

“Glee” star Cory Monteith’s death by overdose puts a new spotlight on the new face of heroin–white, male, thirty-something. We look at the drug and its reach.

Weapons and drugs are on display as Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, center, speaks during a news conference, Friday, Jan. 13, 2012 in the Queens borough of New York. Brown says detectives arrested a dozen suspected drug dealers running an operation mostly out of Queens. They say suburban men and woman, mostly ages 20 to 25, would dial the dealers up, get on the Long Island Expressway and buy $400 worth of heroin.(AP)

Weapons and drugs are on display as Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, center, speaks during a news conference, Friday, Jan. 13, 2012 in the Queens borough of New York. Brown says detectives arrested a dozen suspected drug dealers running an operation mostly out of Queens. They say suburban men and woman, mostly ages 20 to 25, would dial the dealers up, get on the Long Island Expressway and buy $400 worth of heroin.(AP)

A star dies of heroin and alcohol overdose and we first talk about the star.  Cory Monteith, of Glee.  Found dead Saturday at 31.  But let’s talk about the drugs.

The heroin.  It is cheaper and more widely available than ever.  Cheaper now than the prescription opiates that hooked a wave of Americans – Oxycontin and the rest.  And drawing the same crowd.

Heroin in the suburbs.  Heroin in the countryside.  Heroin in high schools.  Up 80 percent.  And a lot of guys like Cory Monteith – white, thirty-something – using.

This hour, On Point:  the new age of heroin.

- Tom Ashbrook


Tiffany Crawford, reporter for the Vancouver Sun. Author of the piece: “Star’s death spotlights spike in heroin overdoses.” (@tiffycrawford13)

Caleb Banta-Green, research Scientist at the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute at the University of Washington.

Dr. Josiah Rich, professor of medicine and epidemiology at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and attending physician at The Miriam Hospital with expertise in infectious diseases and addiction.

Highlights from the Show

Caller Raven from New York City talking about her drug habit:

TOM: Raven, let me – be very clear – you’re on the way to pick up heroin right now?

RAVEN: That is correct.

TOM: Are you high now? Are you off of it?

RAVEN: No,  I am not high right now – which is why I am going to pick up right now.

TOM: And what does it cost?

RAVEN: It costs about $150 for a gram.

TOM: And is a gram like a night of partying? Or a day? I have no idea?

RAVEN: Sir, I wouldn’t call it partying. I would call it sustaining.

TOM: Yes I am sorry. Yes you are quite right. I stand fully corrected. Is that a day? Is that two days? Is that a week? What is that for you?

RAVEN: It would be about a day – yeah. So you know the cheapness starts at the beginning and then once your in it and it’s no longer just an every now and then thing, you know the cost becomes a significant problem.

TOM: Are you still a banker, Raven?

RAVEN: Yes I am.

TOM: And your employer doesn’t know, I guess.

RAVEN: No. No they do not.

TOM: So what’s your plan? I mean – the hook is in pretty deep it sounds like?

RAVEN: Yeah it’s difficult. The plan is always to stop and once you stop then you – you’re like, “oh maybe I am okay again,” and it just completely draws you back. Your brain chemistry definitely changes. And you’re never the same again. But you know my plan is to stop. It’s not a sustainable life.

Caller Stan from Florence, South Carolina, who lost his 27-year-old son last winter to a heroin overdose:

STAN: I buried my son in December of last year – from an overdose of heroin. He died in Charleston, South Carolina. He was at a known heroin dealer’s address. We returned with the police to see where he died and of course the police didn’t do anything. We smelled marijuana when we came in and then I show them the residence where my son told me had purchased heroin from, and they said they would see what they could do. I would have thought they would have done something immediately. But the entire city is flooded with the drug, and it is cheaper than oxycodone and people that take pain pills end up taken heroin because it’s cheaper and more available.

TOM: Stan, I am so sorry for your family. That’s as bad as it gets. Did you see it coming? Did you know that your son was on heroin?

STAN: I knew he had used on and off, but I had no idea he was an addict. He had to live with us for about four weeks before he died. He seemed very functional and that he was okay. But I could have been totally blind to him maintaining a habit. You know something, maybe I just didn’t understand? I don’t know. But I missed it. And there’s a lot of it out there and it’s killing a lot of people.

Guest Dr. Josiah Rich:

The CDC just put out a notice that for something like the 15th year in a row the overdose death rates have increased. We’re experiencing a tremendous public health disaster – the likes of which we haven’t seen since the early AIDS epidemic or the AIDS epidemic itself here in the US, and also around the globe. The disease is opiates addiction. You know those receptors: they don’t care if it’s heroin or morphine or oxy.

Caller Cathy in Stoughton, Massachusetts, who began using heroin to cope with the loss of a child, but stopped herself before she became an addict:

All my life in Massachusetts – I’ve seen drug addiction, from the time I was 9. In 1995, I lost a child, and I could not stop crying. My then-husband brought home heroin. And he said to me, “Just try a line – and you’ll be okay. Just try a line.” And I did, I snorted it and within moments I felt everything was okay. And that was in September of 1995. I would do it maybe on weekends in September of ’95. And in December of ’95 I got scared. I was starting to get addicted. And one night my husband came home – he had six bags. And I refused to do it. Ultimately this broke up my marriage. We parted and I took the children.

From Tom’s Reading List

NBC News: ‘Glee’ star’s OD shows the new, fresh face of heroin – “The economics and demographics of heroin use in the United States have been changing in recent years. In fact, according to statistics from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Monteith largely fits the new profile of a heroin user: a white male in his 30s.”

USA Today: OxyContin a gateway to heroin for upper-income addicts – “Powerful prescription painkillers have become pricier and harder to use. So addicts across the USA are turning to this more volatile drug. The new twist: Heroin is no longer just an inner-city plague.”

Time: Viewpoint: How the Drug Treatment System Failed Cory Monteith — “The Vancouver coroner’s office revealed that “Glee” star Cory Monteith died of a toxic mixture of alcohol and heroin, weeks after leaving rehab for substance abuse. His death highlights the dangers of the post-rehab period, and why patients are most vulnerable just after they receive treatment.”

To find more information on medical professionals, treatment programs and to learn how you can help someone suffering from Heroin addiction, you can go to, StopOverdose.org.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1065902326 Susie Talbot

    USA today said it best –  as Tom Lehrer said in a song written over 50 years ago,  I think (!) “it’s the old dope peddlar,  with his powdered happiness.   He gives the kids free samples,  because he knows full well,  that today’s young innocent faces, will be tomorrow’s clientele.”
    Oxy is expensive and heroine is cheap.  

  • 2Gary2

    make it legal for addicts to go to clinics for their fix.

    • geraldfnord

      But that would make sense, and result in lessened suffering by the Unworthy.

  • donniethebrasco

    The Rolling Stone has jumped the shark.

    Everyone should deface every Rolling Stone magazine with Dzokhar on the cover.

    Even better, don’t buy it.

    Stop advertising in it.

    Call the advertisers who advertise in it and say that you don’t like the picture on the cover.

    Talk with the owners, managers, and employees at stores that sell it and ask them to send the magazines back to the publisher.

    Go to libraries and take them off the shelves and rip up the covers.

    Cancel your Rolling Stone magazine subscription.


    • Ray in VT

      I agree!  Tear up that with which we have a problem.  Vandalize public and retailer property if we don’t like it.

    • jefe68

      Hmmmm. Wrong show.

      You have heard of the 1st Amendment, right?

      • Francis_Unger

        I have.

        This site does not believe in the 1st Amendment.

    • hennorama

      Donnfire Of The Inanities, again.

      Now where’s that handy [Collapse threaed] minus sign again?  Oh yeah, all the way to the right in the little gray box with donnietheboob’s moniker, above.

    • https://www.facebook.com/kyle.rose Kyle Rose

      Of course, no one actually reads Rolling Stone anymore, so if you dbags like you didn’t stir up such faux-outrage no one would know about this or care.

    • J__o__h__n

      Who bans and destroys publications they don’t like?  Islamists. 

    • nj_v2

      Flagged. Off topic.

  • Stephanie Jaynes

    As usual, the focus here is on the fact that he had used heroin and he died. The HEROIN is not the problem here. As is most overdose fatalities, this young man died of a POLYdrug overdose. It wasn’t the heroin that killed him. It was the COMBINED central nervous system suppression of the depressant alcohol, and the depressant opiates.

    If he had died of simply alcohol poisoning, the would be no sensational headlines, no panels discussing his death. It would be a tragic footnote in Hollywood history. Just like generations of stars throughout time.

    This young man was an addict, just like thousands of other addicts. It’s a tragedy for his family and friends. But let’s be honest here, we’re only paying attention here because he was one of the “beautiful people”. One of the elite class of wealthy addicts. If he.was a homeless guy on the street, we wouldn’t care. He wouldn’t be important.

    So let’s stop cannonizing a young man who, in the.end, simply couldn’t live with the enormous load WE placed on him. Because he was a star, because WE saw him as this paragon. An ‘acceptable gay man’.

    We talk about addiction as a plague, addicts as a curse on our society. A society is judged on how it treats its most vulnerable members. As a society, we are failing. Let’s talk about the REAL use use here, so long as we pursue a war on drug ADDICTS, we’re fighting the wrong battles.

    • hennorama

      Nominee for Post Of The Week.

      Well done.

      • OnPointComments

        Nominee for Post Of The Week?  Surely you jest, or are simply patronizing Stephanie Jaynes.
        Without the heroin, Monteith would likely be alive. 
        He had attained a level of fame, so his death makes the news.  “If he was a homeless guy on the street, we wouldn’t care. He wouldn’t be important.”  We might care, but you’re right, he wouldn’t be as important.  As offensive as it is to some, everyone in this world doesn’t have or deserve the same level of notoriety.  Nelson Mandela’s illness makes the front page of the newspapers, as it should; “a homeless guy on the street” with the same illness wouldn’t be mentioned.  Nelson Mandela made his nation and the world a better place; the homeless guy on the street did not.
        “So let’s stop canonizing a young man who, in the end, simply couldn’t live with the enormous load WE placed on him.”  Fatuous nonsense.  Monteith’s addiction problem occurred long before he achieved fame.  Monteith decided his own fate when he decided to use heroin and other drugs and to abuse alcohol.  Who killed Cory Monteith?  Cory Monteith.  Not me, and not “WE.”
        Cory Monteith’s family and his friends have my deepest sympathy.  It’s the same sympathy I have for anyone who has been affected by a loved one who makes the personal decision to escape through illicit drugs, addiction, and alcohol abuse.

        • J__o__h__n

          Nelson Mandela almost suffered as much as Anthony Weiner. 

    • Wahoo_wa

      Um…I don’t think he was gay but feel free to throw in that irrelevant point into the discussion.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

        Per the coverage this week, Monteith was involved romantically (whatever that means–I didn’t take notes) in real life with Lea Michele, a female lead on the show.

      • Stephanie Jaynes

        I mis-stated my comment there. He PLAYED an ‘acceptable gay man’ is what I meant to say. But you are right, it may not be relevant to discussion of his death
        I apologize for any misunderstanding my comment may have caused.

  • Steve_in_Vermont

    Take a close look at our society, our “values”, what’s really important. We treat everyone, especially children, as consumers. Consider programs such as Honey Boo Boo and Toddlers and Tiaras. Our government is dysfunctional, we don’t know who to trust, and the media stresses us with “Breaking News” 24/7. I don’t find it hard to understand why people use drugs. I find it hard to understand why more people don’t.

  • adks12020

    As someone that has seen the scope, and often tragic results, of heroin use first hand I’m glad people are finally starting to realize that opiate use isn’t limited to inner city ghettos and “low class” people.

    It’s my personal opinion that one major factor is the widespread use of prescription drugs among young people. A lot of people in suburbia start with things like Percocet and Oxycontin but those things get expensive. Heroin is less than half the price and much more potent. It’s no surprise that people move towards that once they are addicted.

    I’m not sure what the solution is but the problem is certainly getting bigger and bigger.

  • vito33

    A bag of heroin is cheaper than a pack of cigarettes and has been for quite a while. (Heroin users are unknowingly giving a lot of their money to the Afghan Taliban, although that’s another discussion.)

    The purity can’t be determined by the average user, and when a more potent batch hits the streets, people start dying. Why the authors of this Globe article can’t figure that out is beyond me.


    Drug abuse, suicide, crime – all trend upward in bad economies. So how about let’s focus on fixing the unemployment problem instead of focusing on locking up drug abusers. After all, the for-profit prison system can’t employ everybody!

  • creaker

    I expect if they studied it they’d find that prescription painkillers are a primary gateway to heroin use.

    • donniethebrasco

      What about simple abuse of prescription painkillers.

  • Tom_Goodwin

    I’m in small town Central Mass- walking around I’ve seen 6,7 needles on the sidewalk. Pulled into Whole Foods parking lot Providence; got out of the car, looked down- 3 needles. The love of my life, it turned out, was a junkie. After 5 months in prison last year she didn’t last 2 weeks in rehab. I check the obituaries daily.

  • GarretWoodward

    I grew up in a TINY town on the Canadian border in Upstate New York. All there ever was there for “partying” was weed, cheap beer and the occasional psychedelic drug. Other than that, no hard drugs. Now, everyday, I’m seeing busts in the local newspaper and have seen old friends fall into opiates, ultimately destroying their lives as the town and country is getting sucked into this downward spiral…

  • M K

    I lived in Vancouver for about a decade (the 90′s) and went to university there.  I was also very involved in harm reduction measures there.  It should be mentioned that at that time, there were *300-400* overdose deaths per year.

  • donniethebrasco

    Legalize heroine and marijuana.  Then we can get rid of all the people whose mother’s didn’t abort them.

    • John_in_Amherst

       meaning, everyone.  You ARE such a jerk

  • Sbrin

    May have missed it in your introduction. But it is not just in Vancouver. Today’s Globe discusses the recent heroin deaths right here in Stoughton, MA.

  • John_in_Amherst

    Addiction is a physical and psychological disease that manifests differently for different people and drugs.  As the disease takes hold, it destroys impulse control, and with it reliability, perspective, morality and trust-worthiness.  Drug use is generally a symptom – a bad solution to an underlying problem.  Need to perk up, calm down, release some pent-up pressure, feel a sense of power or control, a source of comfort to plaster over a pain in the soul – there are drugs for that.  Some are legal, some are not.
    Having worked in outpatient substance abuse treatment facilities for nearly a decade, I came to recognize distinct personality types that gravitate toward one drug or another.  Some people are poly-abusers, but most have a preference for one drug or another.  Heroin often seemed to attract people with a deep-rooted pain.  Coke/crack was more for people who craved power or control or excitement they otherwise lacked.  That Heroin is on the rise (again) with thirty something males might be due to the pain and frustration that come from long-term un- or under-employment in a society that increasingly rewards a few with extreme privilege and wealth while relegating lots of people with potential/promise and a history of being brought up solidly “middle class” to dead-end jobs or no job, low wages and resultant damaged self esteem.  In a materialist age, not having “stuff” or the wealth or even the prospect of wealth to buy it is painful.

    This is not an excuse for those who become addicted.  But it is a way to understand that solving the addiction crisis involves more than restoring the endorphin system commandeered by heroin to a normal state.  “Addicted -we have a drug (or treatment) for that” is a band-aid.  Band-aids sometimes have a useful purpose, but they don’t solve complex problems.

    • notafeminista

      Unless of course you happen to be Rush Limbaugh.

      • Ray in VT

        Let’s just judge the man by his own words:

        “The answer
        is to go out and find the ones who are getting away with it, convict
        them and send them up the river, too.”It’s just funny how he wanted to send people up the river for being a user until he was the user.

        • notafeminista

          Ah yes, let us abandon all principle because someone we don’t like behaved in a fashion of which we don’t approve. 

          What’s funnier still is the people who disagreed with him in sending people “up the river” were all too willing to …you know…send him up the river.

          • John_in_Amherst

            Having a drug problem and being a raging hypocrit with a public megaphone are 2 different things, and warrant different responses

          • notafeminista

            So you are suggesting the only addicts for whom compassion and treatment are appropriate are  those with whom you agree either intellectually or socially?  

          • John_in_Amherst

            Limbaugh’s addiction issue deserves compassion.  His hypocrisy problem, vilification.

          • notafeminista

            And to the best of my recollection, hypocrisy in and of itself is not a jail-able offense.

            Tough having principles.

          • John_in_Amherst

            good thing for Limbaugh

          • Ray in VT

            What principle am I abandoning?  I believe in appropriately punishing those who break the law, just as, apparently, did Rush when it came to drug users, at least until he became one.  I just think that people should live by the words and deeds that they promote.  His hypocrisy and belligerence are far more offensive to me that his pill popping.

          • notafeminista

            You said it yourself.   “I just think people should live by the words and deeds they promote.”    This doesn’t just apply to Rush Limbaugh.

            Or maybe you advocated for treatment and compassion for him and I missed it?

          • Ray in VT

            I gave you his words, so why shouldn’t he live by them, except for that he didn’t want to do time like the little people.

          • notafeminista

            And you wanted him to do the time you thought addicts otherwise should not.

            Peas in a pod.

          • Ray in VT

            I think that he should have done time for the crime if he was so keen on others doing it.  I guess that you just must have a soft spot for his hypocrisy.  I don’t.

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

            If he had the slightest ability to poke fun at his own foibles and failings in front of the general public, I might listen to Rush’s opinining of other’s failings. But boy, if I wanted to created the perfect cartoon villain of thin-skinnedness, I couldn’t hardly do better than what RL already is.

          • notafeminista

            I don’t have a soft spot for his hypocrisy.  I don’t have a soft sport for the left’s either.

  • donniethebrasco

    It is socially acceptable.

    • nj_v2

      You are a sociopath.

  • hennorama

    New Reach”


    like ““Heroin’s RENewED Reach.”

    movie ‘Panic In Needle Park’ from 1971, starring a pre-’Godfather’ Al
    Pacino, depicted youthful heroin use in NYC.

    ain’t new, folks.



  • Rick Evans

    ” new face of heroin–white, male, thirty-something.”

    I guess that’s what makes it a PUBLIC HEALTH problem instead of the criminal (in)justice problem it is in black communities.

  • rhwilliamson1

    Regarding the last caller, do not rope marijuana in to this conversation. Alcohol is more relevant to heroin use than pot.

    • John Cedar

       You’re high right now, aren’t you?

      • rhwilliamson1

         Not at all.

  • rhwilliamson1

    Regarding the last caller, do not rope marijuana in to this conversation. Alcohol is more relevant to heroin use than pot.

  • donniethebrasco

    What about the Methadone-Industrial Complex?

    SSDI – Treatment facilities – Ambulances/Transportation – Housing – Etc.

  • donniethebrasco

    Raven, take an extra dose for me.

    • nj_v2

      STFU was invented for you.

      • notafeminista

        Must be hell for you living in the land of the free…..

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF


          I imagine hell to resemble being in a stuck elevator with DTB. I might not even get a minute’s silence to hear the Muzak.

          • notafeminista

            You must live a pretty good life if that’s the worst you can imagine.

        • nj_v2

          You’re more than a little confused, aren’t you?

  • TomK_in_Boston

    This is a crisis, it’s time to do something. I know, how about a “War on Drugs”? That should solve the problem.

    • Ray in VT

      The big change that I have seen in northern New England is the explosion (no pun intended) of meth.  It seems especially bad in North Country New York where my brother lives.  That state as a whole busted more meth labs in the first 5 months of this year than in any other entire year previously.

      • TomK_in_Boston

        What I know about heroin is that it has increased in potency and decreased in price over time…that time being the period of the “war on drugs”. I’ve heard kids for southie say they chose heroin over alcohol because it was a cheaper high!

        • Ray in VT

          I often thank my lucky stars that I’m far too cheap to have bad habits like booze, smokes or drugs.

          • TomK_in_Boston

            Ditto. But based on price alone, I think even a cheapskate could find heroin appealing. 

          • Ray in VT

            Possibly.  I said that, of course, a bit tongue in cheek.  For whatever reason (some combination of upbringing and temperament) I’ve never had any interest whatsoever in pursuing any sort of high or rush (aside from roller coasters maybe).

      • John Cedar

         Last year, bath salts were all the rage.

        • Ray in VT

          Plus there was that K-2 stuff or whatever it was.  Some sort of “synthetic pot” or something.  It goes to show you that people will smoke, snort or shoot just about anything.

    • notafeminista

      It’s been almost as effective as the “War on Poverty”.  Almost.

      • nj_v2

        Bogus comparison. Fail.

        • TomK_in_Boston

          Actually the “war on poverty”, ancient history, is dwarfed by the “war for poverty”, aka Reaganomics. That war is being won.

          • notafeminista

            Actually its not - or perhaps you missed the drastic increase in the number of SNAP consumers.  Just in the last 5 years.

          • TomK_in_Boston

            Are you surprised that with 19th century unregulated capitalism (“Reaganomics”) destroying the middle and lower classes there wd be more demand for gvt help? LOL

          • notafeminista

            I’m surprised it took “Hope and Change” for it to happen.

            Indeed, be careful what we wish for.

          • Ray in VT

            I guess that it’s a good thing, then, that everything was rolling along just fine until January 2009, when Obama was sworn in.  Nothing going wrong before that.  How many jobs was it that the economy added in 2008?

          • notafeminista
          • Ray in VT

            So how many jobs are we losing now, and how much is the GDP shrinking by?

          • TomK_in_Boston

            I think you meant “Morning in America”.

            Class warfare has been raging since 1980, it culminated in the Bush crash and more need for the safety net by the victims, and the  last 5 yrs of a conservadem Prez have not fixed the problems created in the previous 28.

      • John Cedar

        …and as effective as the war on murder and the war on rape and the war on tax cheats and the war on theft…
        We should just stop enforcing laws altogether.

      • hennorama

        notafeminista – a.k.a. notaneconomist – a few questions and comments.

        Just curious – was “Hope and Change” responsible for the Great Recession, its effects and its after-effects?


        Do you know that one definition of “poverty” is “debility due to malnutrition”? (You can look it up). SNAP has been an effective part of the “War on Poverty.”

        The following is a repeat of a post from last October.

        [Did millions of Americans suddenly get lazy in mid-2008, quit their jobs,then sign up for SNAP?

        Did they see Barack Obama become the Democratic nominee for President on June 3, 2008 and suddenly say "Whoopee! Now we can get lazy and irresponsible and dependent on the gov't!"?

        Not bloody likely.

        By the way, who was President when this spike started?

        Maybe the tipping point was when Pres. Bush II announced economic stimulus measures on Jan. 18, 2008.

        Maybe the trigger was Aug. 29, 2008, when Sen. McCain named Sarah Palin as his running mate.

        Maybe it was when the US gov't took over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on Sept. 7, 2008.

        Maybe it was when SpaceX put the Falcon into orbit on Sept. 28th.

        Maybe the trigger was on Oct. 3, 2008, when Pres. Bush signed the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, creating TARP.

        Americans did NOT suddenly become lazy and dependent, because Americans AREN'T lazy and dependent.

        An enormous, calamitous economic upheaval occurred, and millions of people suddenly needed help. Many of these people who suddenly needed help had never thought they'd be in such a position. They had worked hard all their lives and had never asked for or taken any help from the government before. They simply got overwhelmed by an enormous tidal wave of negative economic outcomes.

        Don't sell these people short. They're not lazy or irresponsible or dependent. They are the backbone of America, and are struggling diligently to dig themselves out of the huge hole they suddenly found themselves in.]


        The chart below shows both the U6 unemployment rate and SNAP participation.

        Notice how increased SNAP participation lags the increase in U6. Increases in nutrition assistance (SNAP) tend to lag increases in unemployment, since many workers and their families can get by on their savings and UI benefits for short periods without the need for nutrition assistance. But when savings and UI run out, SNAP can help. In the same way, there is an expected lag in the decline of the use of nutrition assistance as U6 improves and workers and their families improve their overall economic circumstances.

        (FYI, U6 is “Total unemployed, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force”)


  • Kevin

    what about the role of big Pharma? instead of helping our youths deal with their problems we hand them drugs (Oxy) to forget about them and numb them out. this is the gateway to heroin

  • Pollyanna1

    I lost my brother to a Heroin overdose on Mother’s Day 1996 in the Seattle area.  He had completed inpatient rehab that March-April.  He did not take oral drugs prior to using Heroin.  He allowed someone to inject him at a party after drinking.The pull to reuse was too great and he died from “Black Heroin.”  He overdosed because he had not used in that time and his body was not use to his old dose.  It was devistating to our entire family. 

    • hennorama

      Pollyanna1 - my deepest sympathies for your loss, and your family’s loss.  Best wishes.

  • donniethebrasco

    The Methadone Industrial Complex is financially rewarded for not getting people to stop using.  The only tragedy is when an addict/client dies.  They lose a good customer.

  • reneel72

    The companies that produce and market Oxy/Percocet/Vikadan/ need to take a role in this. These companies have convinced doctors and therefore patients that Oxy, etc., is ok for chronic pain and its non-addictive.  This is not right, and this is a huge gateway drug to heroin.

  • Yar

    The thing about brain all diseases is that are contagious.  We are a social creatures, we are all affected.

  • Jim

    Can you ask your guest if gambling addiction or other form of “bad” addiction is similar to or the same as drug addiction? or is drug addiction quite a different animal.

    Thanks for my somewhat naive question… since i was never addicted to drugs.

  • kokyjo

    After 30 minutes of ON POINT programming and discussion still no mention of the pharmaceutical industry and their deep investment in this addiction.  Although I am not inclined to find someone to blame for this epidemic problem, I see the makers of Oxy and Pecocet as “largely responsible”.  –kinda like the cigarette industry and nicotine addiction

  • nj_v2

    Please, please, please On Point/Disqus. Give us an “ignore selected handles” function which enables registered users to make invisible the posts from screen names of one’s choosing so we don’t have to wade step over and around the mindless, drooling, inane prattle of stunted minds like donniethebrasco, as if we were avoiding mounds of dog crap while strolling on down the sidewalk.


    • J__o__h__n

      I agree.  I strongly disagree when On Point censors, but I would like the option to choose for myself what can be made invisible. 

    • donniethebrasco

      You don’t like to be exposed to the truth.

  • nj_v2

    Disqus post misplacement.

  • Dave Bevis

    I think a big part of the problem is that people are getting hooked on pharmaceutical opiates and move to heroin because of the cost. Heroin is  a lot cheaper on the street than oxycodone or hydrocodone.

  • http://www.facebook.com/pia.vastatrix Pia Vastatrix

    I’ve seen in someone close how in the long run, methadone can still do huge damage to a person. What’s your opinion on naltrexone and other drugs that short-circuit the cravings, rather than satisfy the cravings the way methadone does?

  • William

    Go back forty years ago and we would see the same discussion about this drug. Amazing to see despite years of education about the horror of using it we still have people that will use it.

  • RichSPK

  • RichSPK

    Can we post anonymously?

  • yingyangyou

    Good discussion. Sad reality. I am a bit concerned about the ‘victim’ model here. Addicts are not victims. They are people with psychological and physiological predisposition to addiction. The addict takes the first dose voluntarily in the vast majority of cases. That first dose is usually taken AFTER hearing cautionary tales about NOT taking that first dose. Many addicts voluntarily relapse over and over again. This is not being a victim.

    If we all allowed ourselves to be dominated by our animal brains to simply get what they tell us to get, the species would self-destruct pretty fast. Methadone simply prolongs the disease. Methadone addicts ARE ADDICTS with all the nasty behaviors. 

    Recovery means sobriety. I have worked in this field as a professional. The current trend to make addicts victims is not helping.

    • http://www.facebook.com/pia.vastatrix Pia Vastatrix

      Yes, methadone patients are addicts with all the nasty behaviors. Their craving comes before anything else. Methadone users I have known continued to regress emotionally just like illegal drug users. Just because they don’t get high doesn’t mean methadone is an ideal treatment.

      • Alexandra Jones

        That is COMPLETELY FALSE INFORMATION! My life was SAVED because of methadone treatment! It’s a large misconception that you are addicted to methadone if you are using that as an addiction treatment program, you ARE dependent NOT addicted, look up the definition of addiction and dependency. I could go on and on about your comment but I’m working. Wow, seeing as that is what I’m doing and not trying to get my next fix I would have to strongly disagree with your comment, not every treatment works but you can NOT lump everyone together because of a few bad experiences! Just like anything else in life.

        • http://www.facebook.com/pia.vastatrix Pia Vastatrix

          My apologies. I shouldn’t have made a blanket statement based only on my personal experience with a handful of people. Congratulations on your success.

    • John Cedar

      Addiction is like poverty…it’s a character flaw.

      While the thought of extreme selfishness, inconsideration of others and extreme lack of self discipline, do come to mind when I think of addicts, I also assume many addicts experience more pain and less pleasure while living an ordinary life, than I do.

    • glorkohl

      Thank you for reminding us that heroin use is simply a choice, not an illness nor a disease, nor any more or less than a lifestyle choice.  This is an important fact to remember.

    • Alexandra Jones

      Yup they voluntarily relapse….are you an idiot yingyangyou? People if you don’t know what you’re talking about please don’t try to educate others, that’s a big part of the problem false information and discrimination. Your body CRAVES anything it is use to regularly receiving and when the body stops receiving that substance, it triggers a psychological and physiological response causing you to do anything and everything to get that substance or whatever your body became dependent on. Take food away and see what you’d do to get it. It’s a basic concept.

  • J__o__h__n

    It has inspired some great art like Lou Reed songs, Coleridge poems, and Trainspotting. 

  • geraldfnord

    Our society is built on people buying stuff, and these days on our buying things we don’t really need but have been educated into believing will makes us happier and increase our status or prevent our being sad and feeling humiliated. This is why we can’t solve our drugs problem, as it is formally indistinguishable from the model behaviours we encourage.

    All I know is that back in the ‘Seventies, in my high school, we dealt with the problem of drug abuse much as we dealt with people who sinned by liking books:we mocked the most extre

  • CTMom34

    Naltrexone is a prescribed pill taken daily which curbs cravings for opiates.  Unlike Suboxone and Methodone, Naltrexone contains no opiates, which may be why it’s not as popular in treatment circles.  Addicts will get a slight “buzz” when using suboxone or methodone but none with Naltrexone.  Additionally, there is a 1x per month injection called Vivitrol which provides same coverage and helps prevent someone from missing a daily dose.  Unfortunately, the cost of the Vivitrol injection is extremely expensive and hopefully the cost will come down.  These drugs can be true lifesavers.

    • Alexandra Jones

      Methadone and suboxone don’t contain opiates, I think you were misinformed. Suboxone adheres to the opiate receptors and satisfied the urge. If used with opiates you become extremely sick; go into full blown withdrawal. If it were an opiate why would you go into withdrawals when mixed with another opiate? Because it’s not an opiate!

      • CTMom34

        The information I shared is based on information I received when I contacted the Substance Abuse Treatment Center at Yale University’s Dept. of Psychiatry School of Medicine.  I wanted to find out the safest and most effective medication for someone with an opiod addiction. This information was re-confirmed by an Psychiatrist specializing in addiction in Fairfield County.  Methodone is a synthetic opiod and helps block the euphoric effects of heroin, morphine and similar drugs.  It acts on the same opiod receptors as morphine and is a substitute. Suboxone also contains a synthetic opiate and a 2nd drug (Naltrexone) that is intended to counteract the euphoric effect of the opiate.  Nantrexone and Vivitrol contain no synthetic opiates.   
        I have a family member addicted to opiods and understand this is an illness and should be treated with compassion and understanding.  Those with an addiction did not choose to become addicts and it is ridiculous for anyone to think this is the case.   Addiction is neither a weakness of moral character, nor is it a choice.  10 kids can smoke pot for the first time, and 1 out of the 10 will have to try it again and again because of their brain chemistry.  

  • geraldfnord

    Drug abuse is very hard or impossible for us to fix because it is an exaggerated but formally equivalent version of the behaviours we usually encourage. Consumer Society is built on people’s buying things that they think will make them happy or believe will keep them from being sad, and we all-but-worship the men (mostly) who get and/or stay rich meeting those ‘needs’, often with as little concern as they can get-away-with for real, harmful, consequences.

    Mind you, I wrote ‘formally’ equivalent: drugs are different to most consumer goods in that they can dependably deliver on their promises…at first…and also (as a consequence of their illegality) are not embedded officially in webs of work and consumption (my boss did not sign-off on our proposed eleven o’clock crack break, but buys us our caffeine, sugar, and (sometimes) the pastry and paraphernalia associated with it).

  • truegangsteroflove

    An inherent weakness in conversations like this is that the issue is looked at in a reductionist fashion – in isolation from its larger environment. This is as if heroin use  is proliferating all by itself, without any social context or relation to anything else. As a result, today’s conversation has been confined to the physical nature of addiction, withdrawal and recovery. One guest made a connection to the pharmaceutical industry, but no other contextual associations were made.

    If one takes an approach that everything relates to everything else, then an easy and obvious connection can be made to the fragmentation in mass society, resulting in individual isolation and competition. Among other things, this results in a self-aggrandizing political system that rewards demagoguery and scapegoating over promotion of the social contract.

    Another way of explaining the fragmented society is the reliance on the individual ego as the basis of human existence. In traditional societies there is more of a social identity, and no drug addiction, except where contact with “advanced” civilization has broken down social relationships.

    A perfect example is the destruction of Native American communities as a result of interaction with European-based cultures. The most obvious factor has been the introduction of an addictive drug, alcohol, but it goes well beyond that one factor. Alcohol was brought to Indian societies in tandem with Christianity, agriculture, guns, manufactured goods, and industrial employment.

    In today’s context, we would do well to broaden the context to addiction influencing factors such as corporatocracy, intrinsic corruption, destruction of the ecosystem, climate change, paranoid and guilt-centered religion, a thrill-oriented recreational culture, and a callousness towards the suffering of others.

    Maybe heroin use is just another canary in the coal mine. The real question might be whether we, as a species, are capable of paying attention to the numerous canaries in our mutual coal mine.

    • notafeminista

      Aaaahh and there it is.  Cory Monteith died of a heroin overdose, not because of bad personal choices, but because white Western Europeans came to “the New World.”

      It was just a matter of time.

      • truegangsteroflove

        Another matter of time is the relative split second it took for someone to misread what I wrote, and infer that I am  blaming the death of a heroin addict on the “discovery” of “America” by Europeans.

        For the dense, I repeat and rephrase, which will likely be of no avail to some. A phenomenon like heroin addiction does not happen in a vacuum. A person does not just up-and-start shooting heroin on a whim, at least in the vast majority of cases. There is a social context. The largest factor of that social context is the fragmentation of modern society.

        I wonder how some people get through the day, needing their “fix” of snark on the Web. It could be argued that they are easy to please. Better, I suppose, than shooting heroin. Still, I suspect it is a tolerance drug, maybe even gateway. Gateway to what is something an enterprising social scientist might want to study.

        • notafeminista

          Fair point. What then, were you implying?

        • Ben Boer

          You’re right, they don’t just shoot up out of nowhere… They snort it because they’re curious and they don’t think they’ll get addicted. 

          Your social context theory may be a partial explanation for addiction in general, but it has no bearing on heroin’s place in the landscape of addictive drugs one could choose to try. 

      • http://www.facebook.com/sarah.mckinnie Sarah McKinnie

        Unfortunately, those who have the predisposed brain for addiction do not have much of a choice.  I’ve heard it aptly described as 80% brain disease, 20% choice, but in choosing there is a gun pointed to your head.  It’s a compulsion, a predisposed brain, not a bad decision or weakness of moral character.  Many people I know became hooked on opiates after a surgery or having wisdom teeth pulled.  They did not initially shoot heroin.  They felt “right” the first time an opiate was introduced to their predisposed brain.  Same for early onset alcoholism.  It’s not a bad, weak person taken down by this, the disease really is cunning, baffling and powerful.

        • Alexandra Jones

          Thank you so much for your comment, people do not understand that this is a disease and not a choice, some people can smoke cigarettes and just quit when they feel like it while others find it extremely difficult! You hit the nail right on the head, this is what the masses need to be educated about!

  • andrewbw86

    I love listening to the show but noticed Tom was a little unsure of what ibogaine is. I am surprised at the amount of people who have not heard of this. For lack of a better link I’ll include the Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ibogaine. I am under the impression that it has a very good track record in healing addiction but is illegal in much of the western world.

  • http://www.facebook.com/douglas.malek.1 Douglas Malek

    Heroin is coming in from Mexico. There are a number of great medications out there now, including Suboxone. As long as the medical providers are willing to treat the symptoms, there will likely be a successful outcome. Additionally, people can get a monthly naloxene injection, which will prevent the person from experiencing the euphoric effects of opiates. A daily habit does typically cost a habitual user around $150 a day. A number of professionals use heroin. Mexicans will bring the drug to the person’s doorsteps. Very unfortunate situation. 

    • atwoodfreaks

      Thanks for sharing about the monthly Naloxone injection.  My son was on Suboxone, but unfortunately, he want off of it many times to experience the high.  He lost the battle with Heroin in February.

  • jerry

    Had a good friend in Japan that was a junkie for 20+ years, upper middle class guy, and there is NO drug problem in Japan (or so everyone in Japan likes to think). Very difficult to get a hold of heroine, but he managed. Spent a year in prison and after that the police didn’t bother with him anymore, he was just a junkie maintaining himself. He would be fine for weeks on end, and then disappear for a few days passed out, then back to business as usual…..there was no place for him to get help, especially in Japan
    at 45 he couldn’t take it anymore, and found his answer at the end of a rope, left a wife and 3 kids

  • Mansour

    Just want to point out a negative of methadone clinics. The show seemed portray them as the best chance we have to help current addicts get off of opiates. How the government decides to run the clinics is very important. Below is an article from Bloomberg news that discusses privately run clinics and their conflicting goals of maximum profits/patients versus the health of patients


    • Alexandra Jones

      There ARE a LOT of negative things about methadone clinics but I can say it saved my life and the lives of others around me. yes a methadone clinics try to keep it thek

  • pgnimkoff

    I had a visitor last week, he complained about screw implants he had several days before and needed to get to the ER for pain medication, telling me that he was opiate tolerent and that I needed to explain this to ER.  I was so foolish I felt sorry for him being in to much pain.  When the doctor gave him a prescription he laughed and said that wouldn’t help.  I thought he had a fear of pain.  The next day he said he was in so much pain and asked to be taken to another ER in another County.  There he manipulate the system  and he received several more pills, these were high-test milligrams.   It wasn’t until he took the rest of the prescription when it was obvious to me he no longer was in pain.  Yes, he is opiate tolerent because he’s addicted.

    I won’t have him stay here anymore, and would like to dis-engage myself from him totally.  What if anything can I do besides informing him that he requires to be honest with his doctors and ask for help?

    • atwoodfreaks

      Being gently honest with him is the best you can do, but he has to be honest with himself first.  That is the ultimate challenge of the addict — self-deception.  Thanks so much for trying to help.

    • Alexandra Jones

      You could suggest to him for his “pain”, whether he actually IS in pain or not, and his tolerance that he try methadone treatment, that way he’ll be forced to see a counselor and go to group meetings and be frequently drug tested! As for his ER scam, remind him/inform him that his medications are being “mapped” and they WILL, it’s only a matter of time- catch what he’s doing and flag him so that he’ll NEVER be able to get a prescription for narcotics again! Also, you can tell him that methadone is also used for pain management. I think methadone would be the best option for him! After that, you should ask him to leave until he gets help!

  • Joseph_G_Smith

    Everybody is talking about needles.  But what about the recent trend towards smoking heroin?  It seems much more accessible to the middle class, and much more attractive than needle imagery.

  • Bryan Skorczewski

    What about the fact that we, as Americans, are a punishment based society?  Criminals are punished first, rehabilitated second.  Many drug users are reticent from seeking help due to the fact that we are more likely to punish them rather than help them out of their dark days.  Perhaps if we, as a society, were more prone to helping those who make mistakes rather than treat them as our Puritanical forebears would have, there would be less tragedies and more tales of success.

    • atwoodfreaks

      Bryan, You are so right!  Check out the good work of the Drug Courts, an alternative to incarceration for those suffering from addiction.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=26105094 Christina Rothenbeck

    Growing up in suburban New Jersey in the mid- to late 90s, heroin use was very much an issue. I had many friends in rehab, so it doesn’t seem to me as though this phenomenon is especially new. However, one thing that does seem new is the transition from prescription pain medications, such as oxycodone, to heroin. Both my nephew and a friend of mine are recovering heroin addicts, but the beginnings of their addictions were addictions to prescription painkillers. Has the abuse of prescription painkillers led to the current heroin issues? 

  • glorkohl

    Why not give more Ritalin so that the idea of taking drugs is implanted in children even earlier?  What kind of “parents” thought that  this is a way to correct behavioral difficulties?
     Well, these are the parents that are dealing with heroin addicts now- thanks to the school counselors and those astute pediatricians who saw their investments soar. Years ago, you sat still in school or…….   

  • Alexandra Jones

    This has had an enormous effect on my life and the life of people I love and old school classmates, I was badly on heroin, it started because of snorting oxycontin and becoming addicted to opiates… When my tolerance went up and it wasn’t fun anymore and became only about keeping myself from withdrawing is when I switched to snorting heroin (something at the time I didn’t know was possible I just thought with heroin you shoot it but I was obviously wrong!) after snorting heroin for a while and built a tolerance to that I had a friend who was shooting it, I wanted to try. He told me ” I don’t want to do this to you, it’s a long dark and lonely road” but I convinced him and after that shooting became a regular practice. I live in the out skirts of detroit called Metro Detroit, and we had to go down to scarey and horribly dangerous places to get heroin. It became normal to have someone shooting a gun at my car for absolutely no reason, it became normal to see women go into the room where the dealers were and sell their bodies for more drugs, luckily I never succame to that! Not saying that those women or men who had have anything to be ashamed about, an addictive mind is verrryy convincing! I could go on and on about this topic, I’m watching people make the same mistakes I made, I fortunately got onto Methadone and that was what helped ME, but every person is different. Also methadone takes A LOT of time to complete the program I have been clean almost 4 years and am STILL lowering off Methadone. Now I have to deal with the stigma, if you met me you would NEVER think I would have been a heroin addict ever! But that’s the thing, there isn’t a “certain type of person” who is an addict, you don’t have to be poor, you don’t have to be super rich. ANYONE can fall victim to addiction! I now deal with that stigma at doctor visits. I feel normal like everyone else (everyone else meaning non-addicts) but I’m NEVER seen that way. People think it’s some choice I made, why would anyone EVER choose to ruin their life and the lives of their loved ones???! they wouldn’t.  So please don’t judge addicts or recovering addicts! You NEVER know it could be you one day. A big problem with getting help as an addict is money and program availability! When you call a place, for example, an addictionologist’s office, and they tell you the next available appointment is a week from now. What is that addict supposed to do? they could die that week while waiting for help! Also many programs cost hundreds of dollars and sure addicts spend a lot of money to maintain their habit but they do it by means of stealing money, writing bad checks, selling their EBT cards for half the price.. When you want help you don’t want to continue to do these awful things to get money.  Then AFTER you get clean and figure out the reason you went to drugs in the first place, it’s usually some mental illness like mine anxiety and ADD… Then doctors don’t want to prescribe me the medications I need to help myself because they are too worried that you were once an addict.  It’s a vicious cycle. If that makes any sense. What I say to my doctor is “No disrespect but the person who doesn’t want me to become addicted or to abuse this medication the MOST is ME! I’m the one who was an addict I know the pain it causes!” They still don’t get it, meanwhile they are prescribing all sorts of addicting medications to people with NO history of addiction and they are JUST as at risk if not more, than a person who is a long-time recovering addict! To change this stigma we have to educate about mental illness (Addiction falls under that category) and help the masses realize that any mental illness is just like any physical ailment…in fact it IS a physical illness. I don’t know why people can’t accept that our brain MAKES our bodies WORK, and that it is the most complex organ! How can they not understand that it can get sick just like any other organ! Well theres my LONG rant, I just hope people who are recreationally using drugs realize it’s truely a slippery slope one day your just having fun the next you NEED it to get through the day, and after reading this they think twice before popping that pill, or snorting that powder!

    • atwoodfreaks

      Alexandra – I admire you so much!  Thanks for sharing.  My son didn’t make it through the heroin maze this year, but you did!  Fight for your life everyday.  Every word you wrote makes sense to millions of people!

  • easterlywind

    It seems it was around ten years ago, NPR interviewed a professor who predicted all of this.  He told a story of how the Taliban, as a punishment to Afghan farmers for not following the strictest of Muslim laws, would cut down the nut trees that these families had depended on for generations for income as well as protein for themselves.  Poppies were an immediate cash crop for Afghan families rather than waiting a decade for nut trees to mature enough to produce again.
    This man predicted a decade ago that heroin would become a huge problem for America if something was not done to help these people make a living in other ways. I believe there was talk of a tree planting program at the time.I would love to hear that professor’s response now but I can’t find the interview in your archives.

  • atwoodfreaks

    My 21 years old son, Christopher Atwood, died of a heroin overdose in February of this year.  His last purchase of heroin was in Ashburn in Loudoun County just outside of Washington, D.C. – the wealthiest county in the country.  He struggled with his addiction for 6+ years.  It is not a lifestyle choice, it is a survival choice due to the way the brain is wired.  chrisatwoodfoundation.org

  • atwoodfreaks

    My 21 years old son, Christopher Atwood, died of a heroin overdose in February of this year after a 6 year struggle with addiction.  He bought his last dose of heroin in Ashburn, VA in Loudoun County just outside of D.C. – the wealthiest county in the country.  We are fighting back against the stigma and epidemic. chrisatwoodfoundation.org

    • seameruok

      My 26 year old daughter died of a heroin overdose 5/30/05.  She was addicted for 8 years, she was first introduced to the drug in Amsterdam.  8 years ago when Camille died it was very hard to find people who would talk about heroin, and the stigma was terrible.  Through these 8 years I have come to know many parents who have lost children to this terrible drug, my heart goes out to you, losing a child is the worst loss.

    • Alexandra Jones

      I am so sorry about your son, as a recovering addict I know how hard it is to get clean and stay clean! Also,I face the stigma that comes with being an opiate addict, people automatically think you must be of low income and uneducated among other stereotypes. I just wanted to say how wonderful it is that you are taking your tragedy with your son and putting up a fight for us and keeping your son’s memory alive. Thank you for helping.

  • Alexandra Jones

    First of all you came from a LONG TIME OF ADDICTS your words you knew you were susceptible to addiction, it IS hereditary, also I’m sure after dealing with family members have let you down and hurt you you had experience that gave you awareness that other people who had an experience that didn’t, you knew what it could do to your life and to your friends and your loved ones so you knew to stay away from those people who did drugs and knew the high wasn’t worth the consequences and that it could easily turn into more than just one time that is just one difference between you and other people, also that brings me to the point of consequences once again, when you are young that part of your brain is not developed you do not have the awareness of true consequences that’s why teenagers and children make a lot more mistakes than adults do, and that is a fact. some people end up in car accidents or have scoliosis and are put on pain pills, and then become addicted to it because it is a behavioral disorder, or disease. I would love to go on and on about this but I am at work! You had some kind of constant awareness and probably anger that helps you then never tried experience an altered consciousness, I would have hoped that from your experience with your family you would have realized they didn’t want to do what they did once they became an addict then I would hope you’d find compassion for those people, just as you would find compassion for anybody else with the disease.

  • Earl520

    Thanks for doing this show.  I am a graduate of the BU School of Social Work.  I have worked with opiate addicts for more than fifteen years.  This problem has been largely ignored in spite of the widespread use of opiates around Massachusetts, the whole Northeast and much of the country.

  • shaka02

    For parents of addicts, I recommend http://www.learn2cope.org. This is a great organization started by a mom of a heroin addict. You can get support and education at one the many meetings in Massachusetts or at their on-line forum.

    For sober programs for males, I reccomend http://www.number16.org. This is a wonderful sober community that has saved many lives.

  • Bill Williams

    Thank you for your program. Heroin is every bit the epidemic your guests describe.  It claimed my 24 year old son last December.  He’d been clean or relatively clean and succumbed to an accidental overdose when his tolerance was low.  NOT before he spent six weeks in a hospital before we had to make the decision to remove him from life support.  

    I must admit that I am surprised to hear your guests speak so much of methadone, which is really replacing one addiction with another. Nor did anyone mention Naltrexone or Vivitrol which are opiate inhibitors and are currently available for treatment.

    Finally, for any who might be interested, here is an essay I had published in the New York Times online after my son, William’s, death.  http://nyti.ms/18eVkto

    The War On Drugs is a failure.  We need to address this as a public health issue.  

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