tv America Tonight Al Jazeera March 30, 2016 2:30am-3:01am EDT
. thanks for joining us on "america tonight." i'm joie chen. we have heard so much about the epidemic that hit america's streets, heroin. communities, even places you wouldn't expect are being forced now to battle it, but now baltimore is testing out a radical plan to combat heroin addiction. the city wants to open a 24-hour emergency addiction clinic and increase services to prisoners and to those in recovery. a big obstacle blocks the way. you know what it is. money. because the price of a life-saving drug has skyrocketed. here's "america tonight's" adam may. >> these are what we give to clients in case somebody overdoses on heroin. this will save their lives. >> inside the cramped quarters of a small bus in baltimore,
they're handing out a miracle drug. david, who didn't want us to use his last name, is volunteering his time preparing clean needles for drug addicts who come in off the street. it's here where david hands out noloxin, the drug that can reverse a heroin overdose. >> in a matter of seconds, the person will come out of it right away. >> it's part of a new initiative by the city of baltimore to train every resident to use noloxin. the health commissioner said the need is that urge the. >> this is the equivalent of having a defib later for heart attacks. they're in airports and office buildings. everyone should have the ability to save someone's life. >> you're saying everyone. >> i'm saying everyone. >> baltimore has been called the heroin capital of the nation. almost every day someone here dies of a drug or
alcohol-related overdose. how would you describe the number of overdoses on the streets of baltimore right now? >> it's tragic. our overdose rates have reached epidemic proportions. last year 303 people died from drug and alcohol overdoses. >> that's almost one a day. >> that's almost one a day just in our city. when we look at the increase, there's been a 23% increase over the previous year. i mean, if we had any other disease that's causing this many deaths, you can imagine if we said ebola is causing 303 death, we would mobilize every resource we can to address that. >> david was one of the baltimore's addicted. homeless for years, he was lucky, helped off the streets by a good samaritan. he's now in long-term recovery. he blames the recent spike in overdose deaths on the powerful synthetic opiod fentanyl.
>> when it came in mixed with heroin, it's a deadly cocktail. people that have been drug addicts for years and think they can handle it, they just can't. it's about 12 times stronger than morphine. so mixed in going straight into the bloodstream, it can take the most seasoned heroin addict out. >> while noloxin has been called a miracle drug, it could quickly be out of reach for people like david who want to save lives. that's because the cost has more than doubled in just the past year, leading to huge profits for the pharmaceutical companies who made the drug. companies like ampistar. the price increase has caught the attention of capitol hill. vermont senator bernie sanders and maryland representative elijah cummings wrote this letter to the ceo of the pharmaceutical company earlier this year. the rapid increase in the cost of this life-saving medication?
fl such a short time frame is a significant public health concern. >> congressman elijah cummings. >> thank you very much. thank you. >> cummings has now written a second letter to the governor of maryland, lieutenant-governor, and attorney general urging them to negotiate rebates like a handful of other states have done. >> the point of my letter is simple. if new york and other states are getting lower prices for this drug, the very same drug, then maryland should get it, too. we should not let our citizens be overcharged, and we should let the company jeopardize the private steps we have taken to address the crisis. >> what response have been gotten from them so far? >> i'll be meeting with their lawyer this evening at 6:15, with their lawyer. >> what do you want to ask them? >> we've already asked them why is it that they went up on their price $19 to $41 in a matter of
six or seven months. they gave us some excuses about the costs going up and production. then we asked for documents to back it up. they could not show us one single document. >> what should the cost be? >> this is a life-saving medication. this is a medication that can be produced with pennies. it should be free. it should be our societal obligation to provide this life-saving medication. >> david has now been in recovery going on 15 years. he says while noloxin can bring a person back to life, it can't bring back a livelihood and not a cure for disease. >> you have to look at it as a disease. person. they're suffering from a disease that robs them of their life. >> how are you doing now? >> my life is good. i mean, no matter what i get in my life, to thank the people
that helped me get here and get back and hopefully help somebody else. that's the biggest reward in and of itself. >> a reward he hopes to share with others, but concerned big pharma sees profits, not people. adam may, al jazeera, baltimore. next up here, the worst of two evils. we consider the options for heroin addicts in new hampshire when the only shot at finding a cure is behind bars. and later a surprising legacy. the memorials to love, loss and why survivors want their final words to speak the truth. >> "inside story" takes you beyond the headlines, beyond the quick cuts, beyond the soundbites. we're giving you a deeper dive into the stories that are making our world what it is.
you've heard about the city of baltimore's struggles with heroin. now we look to the northeast where even the farmlands in states like vermont and new hampshire found they, too, have been caught up in the spread of opiate addiction. already one of the most addictive drugs in the world, heroin has become more available, cheap, and pure. the consequences are evident in new hampshire where the state struggles with record numbers of overdoses, even more worrisome, finding treatment has become even more difficult. "america tonight" takes you inside the place that has become new hampshire's unlikely treatment center of last resort. >> what percentage here out in the yard are addicted to heroin or have an heroin addiction? >> as i look around right now, almost everybody i'm looking at. for the most part everybody but
three or four people. >> wow. >> yeah. it's just unbelievable. >> joanne cain is one of the roughly 140 inmates at new hampshire state prison for women, where the number of prisoners addicted to heroin has seen a dramatic increase. echoing the epidemic of substance abuse all over new hampshire, 80% of the women here suffer from addiction. it's joanne's third time behind this fence. this time for violating her parole over overdosing on heroin. >> on march 13th of this year after, like i said, 15 years of heroin addiction, it was my first overdose just a few months ago. yeah. i pulled into a dunkin' doughnuts, and i kind of really don't remember. i remember putting it in the spoon, and pretty much that's all i remember. i mean, when i finally came to, the woman says you are lucky. you were dead. >> whethn did you start to notice
an increase in heroin or opiod addictions amongst inmates? >> i think that's been relatively clear over the last few years, specifically with heroin, especially with the female population. >> helen hanks is the assistant commissioner of corrections for the state of new hampshire. she says women like joanne create a revolving door with more female inmates returning to their life behind bars. >> when we send them back out into the community, it used to be 30% of people came back have a substance abuse related violation. that number has climbed to around 40%. a lot of that is heroin use and abuse. >> how often do you see people come back through these doors that you recognize? >> oh, every day. every day. you hear this one is back, and sometimes i feel like i'm grateful that they're back because they're alive. there's so many women that left on a friday and by monday they're dead. that's sad to me.
so sometimes when they come through the doors, you're almost happy. >> why females? >> i can conceptualize the enhanced challenges in the community. they're reengaging in parents in a different way men do. struggling to keep their home and children safety. getting that job and establishing connections that are going to keep them safer in not coming back. i think that the female population has more stress. i think there is a gender difference. it hits every gamut of society. it's not, you know, poor incomes. it's suburb ya and it's upper class citizens and ever socioeconomic class hit by heroin addiction. >> how long have you been addicted to heroin? >> since 2000. 15 years. >> what were you doing before that. >> before that i was an international flight attendant for twa.
>> cain left the airline business when three close colleagues were killed in a plane crash. her addiction began whether she sought treatment for the shoulder pain she endured after years of flying. >> i started with vicodin and percocets and graduated to oxycontin. >> how long until you used heroin? >> it didn't take long. i wanted to try it, and i fell in love. it took all the fear out and all that resentment and shame and guilt and all that. >> how many kids do you have? >> i have three. >> three kids. have they visited you? >> no, they haven't. they're very mad at me, which really saddens me. i mean, i know they love me, but they're giving me tough love this time. i beg my mother to put them on the phone, but they don't want to talk to me right now because i died. they just want me to get it right this time. it sucks. it really does. i often wonder why i have this
addiction, you know? >> even though the state has an increasing number like cain grappling with addiction, new hampshire ranks 49th in the country for access to treatment. as a result, the prison system has become one of the only treatment centers available. >> whether i started to do this work 25 years ago, i could choose from any number of treatment centers to send people to, hospitals, detoxes, intensive outpatient programs and residential programs. slowly over time they've gone away. >> kim is a clinician at the women's prison and heads up the treatment program. if there's an epidemic growing, why would the state be closing treatment centers? >> well, i think the reality is that the state of new hampshire doesn't necessarily value treatment as much as they should. when things dropped off or centers closed, we replaced it with nothing. when you replace it with nothing, where do you send people who are in crisis? >> so they end up here?
>> they end up incarcerated, yeah. you know, they tend to get more treatment in here than they would if they were out on the street. >> it's extremely expensive. it costs over $10,000 for a 28-day program. there's not a lot of long-term treatment programs here in new hampshire. you're actually getting more in prison than you get out in the community, which is really kind of unfortunate you know, when you think of it. do people commit charges to come into prison to have treatment? there's just very, very few programs and there's such a long waiting list. >> the influx of female inmates put new hampshire's women's prison over capacity. while a new facility is built to accommodate the growing number of prisoners, at this rate it's expected to be at capacity when it opens in 2017. is everyone who wants to seek treatment here in prison able to do so? >> no. no. there are people currently on the waiting list for the
nine-month program, but it's sort of a multi-fold issue. there's only one of me. in this facility and in this building, space is at a premium. >> doesn't it sound element a little insane that a state with such a huge heroin problem is ranked 49th in terms of treatment options? >> we have to look at that new hampshire was one of the last states to adopt medicaid expansion. other states are ahead of us in solidifying those service and ways to pay for those services. they've enhanced the number of treatment interventions in their states. >> an estimated 4,000 individuals are getting substance abuse treatment through new hampshire's medicaid program. while they were one of the last states to approve medicaid expansion, new hampshire is already as risk for losing it. it's set to expire in 2016, and lawmakers are currently debating whether to re-authorize it. >> this is a huge epidemic. 325 people in new hampshire have died from heroin overdoses since
the beginning of this year. then another 1,000 people have been brought back to light using narcan. >> if the mayor of manchester was sitting here, what would you say to him? >> we need treatment and need it now. we'll see more people die every day, every day. >> how many friends have you watched die of heroin overdoses? >> i can't even count. just this year i'd say about 12 wakes and funerals. i've been incarcerated since march, so 12 wakes and funerals? >> joanne is set to be released from prison this july, and she says she wants to regain at least some of what she's lost. she considers herself fortunate to have landed a coveted spot at one of new hampshire's only treatment centers and hopes this time around will be different. >> you lose everything. like the biggest thing is you lose yourself. all that material stuff you can get back, but you know, all the years with my children that i lost being incarcerated, how do you get that back?
that's what i believe is like the spiral that i continue to go back, because i can't deal with all of the shame, you know? i never thought in a million years like you said i'd be incarcerated. that in itself is heart-breaking to me, you know. very heart-breaking. next we hear the final words of addiction and the survivors who are giving them voice. >> the only live national news show at 11:00 eastern. >> we start with breaking news. >> let's take a closer look.
movement signs that families want the final legacy of their children, however painful, to live on and to make a difference. >> my name is margaret, and i lost my daughter sue to heroin on august 6, 2013. the police came to the house, and i just thought that they were, you know -- she was in jail again. they asked if i was alone. i said, no, my husband is back in the shop. we can go back there if you need to go back there. they said, let's go back there. and then they told us that she had died. it was just such a shock even though you knew it was going to happen. it was a shock that it actually did. i included the heroin in her obituary because she wanted me to. she said i know i'm not going to live to be very old, maybe 40 at the most or 35. she says, keep think, and if i die, i want this in my obituary. she says i was a perfect
daughter and my parents never knew i was using or drinking for at least the first five years from age 12 to 17. then only suspected it until the last ten years of my life when i couldn't hide it anymore. during the last ten years, i never knew from one day to the next where i was going to be. i ate out of garbage cans and i begged and stole. you will become a liar and thief. next you will lose your family, your real friends, and eventually your life. the light of my life, my daughter, was taken away. even then i could not quit. i have quit now, but i am dead. don't wait as long as i did. give yourself life another chance. she wanted other people to get help, because she couldn't. she wanted her daughter back, and she couldn't overcome her addiction long enough to get her daughter back. >> my name is kathleen and i
lost my son logan to a heroin overdose on march 27, 2015. i got the phone call that logan had overdosed, and that call came from his dad who was told by neighbors who saw police and ambulance outside the house. i left here and drove to the hospital in peeksville, which was, i don't know, maybe a 15-minute drive. he was still downstairs in the e.r., and he went up to the icu shortly after that and was there for five days before they determined that there was no way he could recover. i included heroin in the obituary because it never occurred to me to do anything other than that. logan fought substance abuse for eight years of his short life. he experienced many periods of success during which he was fully himself, a kind, intuitive, strong and generous
young man. ultimately he lost his battle and is now another heart-breaking reminder of the heroin epidemic in this country. it's incredibly prevalent even in the small town, six kids including logan have overdosed in the last two years. that's one every four months. logan knew them all. >> my name is peggy, and i lost my son adam richard to heroin on may 30, 2015. we got a call around 6:15 in the morning. the e.r. doctor told us that adam had been brought in by ambulance several hours earlier of a suspected drug overdose. by 3:00 that afternoon he was pronounced dead. i included heroin in the obituary because there is a huge heroin epidemic in the northern kentucky area as well as across
the nation. our charismatic and beautiful brother and son died saturday from a cardiac arrest caused by a drug overdose. with adam seemingly endless positive traits, he had the potential to be anything, but drugs began to creep into his life while he was in high school. the worry that we have felt watching adam struggle has been replaced by a deep feeling of loss that now exists knowing we will never see his smiling face again. i wanted to let people know that it was a drug overdose. was i proud of it? no. we need to stop burying these young people. >> sue to support her habit she robbed and broken into houses. we'd give her money, which was stupid because we knew it was going for drugs. she stole from us many times, either boyfriends helped her, friends helped her and prostitution. that's the only way she could get money. when she died she was with
someone and he found her in the bathroom. they just have to get it any way they can. >> logan would take money or go through my medicine cabinet. i would continually confront him on it. i preferred not to have him around where i had to lock up the change jar and hide my purse. it's exhausting to deal with that. unfortunately, what most families do is slowly accommodate the addict, and before you know it, you're living as a prisoner to this person's addiction. >> i never, never in my dair ever thought that adam would do heroin. stick a needle in your arm? he didn't like the sight of needles. adam was working for his uncle, and a co-worker found him at lunchtime using. i believe the needle was still in his arm in his car. his uncle let him go right then. i think that probably for adam was the lowest of the low.
>> after losing sue to heroin, i've learned that no matter how hard you try, you cannot make your child go the straight and narrow. they have to want to. after their first high, they can never get that high again, but they are always trying. by then they're so addicted to it they just can't leave it. it's a really helpless situation, and you hope that other kids will hear the stories and learn and not want to go that way because the parents really can't do anything. >> what i miss most about her is her smile and her laugh. >> what i miss most about my son is the potential that he didn't get to enjoy of having a fulfilled, happy, comfortable life. >> i can still hear that laugh, and i know he's looking down on us. that brings me comfort.
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