tv Peter Canning Killing Season CSPAN September 2, 2021 7:07am-8:02am EDT
♪ ♪ >> booktv continues now, television for serious readers. >> delighted to introduce peter canning to discuss his new book, "killing season: a paramedic's actions from the front lines of the opioid epidemic." peter canning has been a paramedic since january 1995. his first book, "paramedic: on the front lines of medicine," details his journey on the city streets. rescue 471, a paramedic's stories, is the sequel. he is the author of the blog,
street watch. he attended phillip edgar academy in the university of virginia. he was a tennis instructor, a u.s. senator, a meatpacker, a line cook, a telephone solicitor, a book and movie reviewer and ap an author before he found his place as a paramedic. he was works at a john dempsey hospital in farmington, connecticut. without further ado, i'd like to welcome peter canning. hi, peter. oops, hold on, i think -- one second. there you go. >> greetings to everybody. thanks for attending. >> thanks so much for joining us. before we get started with your presentation, would you kill us a -- would you tell us a little bit about "killing season" for those who may not be familiar with your new book?
>> okay. it just came out k and it's about my experiences as a paramedic over the past a 25 years and following the opioid epidemic. and as i'll get to in my presentation, i started to learn things in the course of my work, and i wanted to bring my experiences expect voices of my patients to other readers so that they could i be changed in the way i was changed and my views about the opioid epidemic. >> awesome. thank you so much. well, i'm looking forward to seeing your presentation, and i know our audience is as well. is peter's going to share his screen and go ahead with the presentation, and i will be with all of you in the chat, and then we'll come back to audience questions during the second half of the event. >> okay. can you see that okay? >> yes with, we can see your screen. >>n. all right. let's seee here.
this is a picture of hartford, where i work. i've beenre there as a paramed ific02 for over -- paramedic for over 25 years, and i'm very attached to the city. this is just a picture i love. this is a picture of me in 1995 when i started working as a paramedic in hartford. and hen that's me a couple -- and then that's me a couple of years ago. sunny 1995, thousands people dying a year in the united states, it just has gone -- sky rocketed since then. these graph goes up to 2016 where it's estimating 65,000 people. just read today that the latest data of the 12-month period
ending in last august there's 88,000 people in the united states died of drug overdoses. so when i began as a paramedic, and i handled people who had drug overdoses, i thought that people overdosed and used drugs because they had a character flaw. i would say to them, just say no, or you're going to end up dead nor jail. i didn't understand how people could willfully injection themselves with a drug that could so easily kill them. i didn't understand how people could inject themselves with a drug in front of their own children. in addition to being a paramedic i'm the ems coordinator another john dempsey hospital and part of the afternoon isreviewing fomenters from other paramedics
am few years back i encountered this one. the paramedic does a call and fill in details and then write a narrative describing what happened. i'll read it to you. upon arrival found the 24-year-old male unresponsive lying on the floor or his bedroom with his mother performing cpr on him. he state -- she states she last saw him alive an hour ago and then found him northeastern unconscious before calling 9-1-1. her states he has history of heroin abuse and there's a used needle next to him his unresponsive and he is not breathing. so what struck me about this was not that it's a horrible thing, mother doing cpr on their child, which is a horrible thing, but that this wasn't unusual. this this wasn't the first time i'd run across a narrative like dismiss i mishad been on several
cals that were similar and i began to look around and say what is happening? what has come about that these tragedies are so commonplace? so, in looking to find out what was going on, there's two stories. there's the national story. i glide its in my book but it's the national story, it's fairly well-known, that opioid epidemic started with the rise of prescription pain pills. the farm soviet union cal companies tide these pillings weren't addictive. doctors, well meaning but probably hadn't looked into it as well as they should, tended to prescribes these quite liberally. as the numbers of pills and more and more pills were made available each year, more and more people began to die of overdoorses. about 2010, what hand wares that
pill oxycontin and users scrape the bill down to powder and either snort opowder oar inject it to get a stronger feeling. so the farm soviet union cal companiesed -- pharmaceutical companies came up with a reformulation of oxycontin so they couldn't break it down into a powder, just turned into a goop. for well-meaning things sometimes they lead to unintended consequences. what happened almost meet with he arrival of the -- people used to use oxycontin switched to hairs heroin. they're very much the same check chimp heroin was surprisingly much more widely available and much cheaper than the pills so as we saw another big uprise in the deaths, and then i'll talk but this more later -- we had
the arrival of fentanyl, a synthetic drug, opioid that is really just devastating the country now with deaths. so there's the national story. but what interested me more was the individual stories. so as a paramedic when i respond to could call, person might not be breathing, there's evidence that they have -- used an opioid so the syndromes that go with that, not breathing oring a agonial breathing, pupils pinpoint, they can be many cases they're completely unresponsive. so we give them the drug which most people are familiar with called naloxone and its works well and we bring them back. then our job isn't over bause then i take the patient, but them in the ambulance and drive to the hospital. so i had an opportunity to talk to patients, and as more overdoses were there i had more
and more people to talk to. so i began to ask them, how did you get involved with this? how did you end up where you are? the stories they told me formed the genesis of this book. as i said before, it's a -- their stories completely changed the with a i viewed the opioid epidemic and people whoa used drugs and i wanted to take their stories and share them with people so they would learn what's learn. i want to tell you three of be patients write brought in the book. take you back in time, to friday night, at a football game, local high school, halftime, the home team is ahead by a touchdown. the cheerleaders out on the field. the crowd is all excited. a beautiful night. two cheerleaders are tossed up into the air, spinning with tight spirals above the crowd.
one cheerleadser comes down, they catch her their crowd cheers. the second comes down and they drop her. they're silent. the father comes down from the crowd. an ambulance is called. she is lying on the ground, crying, daddy, daddy, my back is killing me. so we are very careful with her, put a cervical color on her number -- collar on her and drive slowly to the hospital to try to avoid the bumps tim father rides in the front and keeps looking back, hough is she doing? a few years later, get called for a car accident and downtown hartford, car into a poem when i get there -- a pole, when i yet? slumped over the wheel is the young woman, but the -- it's really a minor accident. there's not like a huge amount of damage to the car. as i open the door to look at her, i see next to her a syringe
with heroin bag that a says sweetheart on it. she looks familiar to me. give her some naloxone and bring with am ambu bag until the come around and then she goes, i screwed up. just gout another of rehab if was doing so well. what happens to people is when they get out of rehab and haven't used for a while they use and they use the same amount they used to use and it's too much for them so they overdose. used to think when somebody said to me, oh, the first time i slipped up. i uses to think they were fool beg must most cases that's quite common. gist gout oft of jail or rehab or they just ended a period where hadn't used drugs for a while. so, i'm looking at her and i start talking to her, and i asks a waste collect our history, what other medical problems do
you have? and she goes i broke my back cheerleading. and i said the name of the town and she goes, yeah, that was me. so i asked her, what happened to her? well, she had a surgery on her back, she had a difficult year, couldn't go to school, lost a lot of her friends. they gave her a fairly high amount of pain pills, her doctor, and then after a year, the doctor cut her off and said you don't need them anymore, but she said to me i did still need them. people develop a tolerance and an addiction to these pills and very, very hard to just stop taking them. so, the sickness she felt to battle that she would buy pills from friend in high school but they became very expensive. the pills are 30-milligram oxycodone or percocet, goes for $30, dollar a mill by gram and
that can quickly become very expensive. so the same person was sell these pills to her, had heroin and he would sell her that. the thing about heroin is -- i'll get to this more later on -- is that it's powder and it's part of the country in connecticut, it's pods sore very easy to -- podder to it's -- powder to sniff. you don't have a put a belt around your large and put a need until your elbow and she started using heroin and before long she was injecting it and her life fell apart. and she looked at me and she said i used to be a normal person. and i said, i remember that. the phrase, i used to be a normal person, i heards over and over from my parents. but for her what i often wondered with her is, what would have happened that night if when they threw her high into the air
they caught her and she hadn't fallen. how would the trajectory of her life have been different? she would have gone to the dance that night, would have been nice graduation, went on to college, perhaps an engagement, a marriage, a house with a white picket fence and a family. instead, all her dreams now are going to a hole in her arm. the soldier. we get called for a person unresponsive and not breathing and parking lot of what used to be a hospital but now a rehab center. the fire department arrives before us, and by the time i get there, the person, the young man is coming around and starting to breathe. get him into the ambulance and get him on the stretcher and he says to me, what a scum bag i am? i was supposed to take my son trick-or-treating tonight. and look at what i've done.
his plan was he had just gotten out of jail, he did 40 days for an outstanding warrant, and the outstanding warrant was for he got caught with a broken taillight at one point in time when he slumped over in his car. so he got out of jail, some friend picked him up and as a celebration they gave him one bag of heroin and the south would would one bang of heroin do to me. he had not used for a while. he had actually quit before he went to jail, for two months before jail. so, he goes after all i have been through, to almost die like this, and so as aim taking care of enemy and the flinches and i there's a scar there it's a bullet hole. so i ask him his story.
the day after 9/11 he joined the army. he went over to iraq and was in a humvee accident, an ambush, suffered a brain injury, he got shot, and he ended up leaving the -- left the army with a horrible addiction to pain pills that they had given him and with a purple heart. there are here he is saying to me what a scum bag i am. and i think, this is a guy who the day after 9/11 went to the service to fight for the rest of us and yet he feels today like the world views him as somebody not worthy. when i took him to the hospital, what i always -- paramedics take patients into the emergency department and then turn them over the emergency staff is which a pardon me talks to a
nurse as we put him in a hospital bed. whenever i bring in a patient from an opioid overdose i telling the nurse their story. in hopes it may get some empathy from them but i told them that -- told the naturals about what, the nurse what happened to him in the army and her husband had -- what in the reserves and her brother fought in iraq, so she went into the room with most of the er staff that night and said to him, thank you for your service. and that was a nice way to treat him. but it is a way i'd like to see all people treated. there's a seeing we leave no one behind and that should apply not just to those in the military but to all people in our society. third patient, girl in the rain. i write quite a bit about her in this book. when i first met her i noticed
her holding a homeless and hungry siren standing in the rain, and what my partner and i carry with us, we carry water on hot days, we carry oranges and fruit and sometimes spare change to help people out. so we drove by, and i started to talk to her, how are you doing? she said i'm not doing well, i'm really sick. so i gave her some change, gave her an orange. and i saw her later in the day and she said she was feeling better. i saw her again the next week and had a chance to talk to her more. and i said how did you get to started doing this? she said that her mom was 14 when she was born. her mom was a drug user who gave her up for heroin. she was raided by her grandmother. she said that she always wanted to try heroin because she wanted to know what it was about heroin
that met her mom love heroin more than her. and so at 17 she tried heroin for the first time, and she said as soon as i tried it, i understood my mother. so, all these people, you wonder what their lives would have been like if the cheerleader hadn't been dropped though, young man had nonenlist its in the army, the girl in the rain had had a normal upbringing. despite that, there were still questions he had to understand, why knowing how horrible these drugs are to their lives why did people keep using? i started to ask that question of some scientists and the number of them used the same analogy to describe it, which i thought was interesting. so, humans are programmed to eat, have sex, and take care of
their children. when we do these things, our brain releases endorphins that make us feel good. we think about -- it's delaware-licious and it's like firework in our brain. when think about having a pizza we get the good feeling of the fire. the reason that we're programmed to do these things to have sex, eat and take care of children, because it's evolutionary thing. its ensures our survival of the human race if we do these things. what they said is that heroin, opioids, when you take those, for some people, rather than one furyk firework going off in their brain it's like the fourth of july with the fireworks. the fireworks are so potent and powerful that in time, they're no longer able to produce
endorphins for the things that matter and it becomes all about getting the opioid. what i learned is that addiction is not a character flaw. it's a brain disease, chronic brain disease. what happens in the brain is when you first use, you get this intoxication and go, and this is fantastic. and then in time, another part of the brain goes, oh, i'm starting to lose the feeling, maybe shy think about how i'm going to get that feeling again. then the third part of the brain becomes completely preoccupied, i've got to get it again, how can i do that? and so what happens with people who become addicted to opioids, is that the cycle goes on in their brain and rewires the reward pathways so that it's not
having food or sex or not taking care of their kids. it's getting heroin is the key to survive now. it's very, very difficult for them to change that. there's a movie that i saw many years ago with my dow called "inside out" and there were uncomfortable character goes live in the person's brain and wonderful personalities and battle at the control panel. what happened sometimes when people become addicted to heroin is another character comes into the brain and takes over the control board. we have to remember no matter how a person acts those other wonderful personalities are still in there, and they may be ground and gag -- bound and gagged but they're there and we can't forget about them. a damaged brain who is pathways have been rewired is a medical
problem. drug usage -- somebody use is using drugs should not be criminal problems. it's a medical problem. you can put these people in machines and you can see the damage of their brain, it's not an vein isible thing. you -- not an invisible thing. it's a thing like you can look at somebody's returns hearts in a machine and see they're damaged. you can see somebody's reward pathways have been rewired hi heroin to constantly make good democrats it's -- depressions it's acane too expecting someone with copd to climb mt. everest. it's lard to do. so, what i started to do, i started to learn about, is you couldn't say to somebody just say no because it's just not an
easy thing to do. so there's this -- something out there called harm reduction but i became a disciple of. harm reduction is that people are using to use drugs and takes establishes to mitigate the damage the drug does in hopes of keeping them alive until such a time they're ready for recovery. harm reduction includes needle exchange where somebody can have a clean need sol they're not sharing needle with someone else and not damaging their veins by using a needing over and over again. it's community naloxone so they can have the overdose reveressed. it's safe injection sites where somebody can go and use under the eyes of somebody who is watching over them. street drug testing to see what in is in the drugs they're
buying. a wonderful organization at hardford call the hartford harm reduction coalition, and they taught me quite lot, not just about harm reduction but about compassion and caring for your fellow man. there's a quote that people in the harm reduction movement use, it's not that we don't want people to be drug free but dead people don't recover. you have to keep people alive, and that is a beautiful thing in itself, and some people will keep them alive to such a point they can get off drugs, other people will always be on drugs, but at least you kept them alive and living in the world. and being part of their families and communities. so today rather than saying just say no issue hand out these little pamphlets to people. five points to prevent the fatal overdose and make certain do not
use alone. if you are going to use alone do so in a place where you can be spotted. always have naloxone available, when their using from a new source, do a little bit at a time. don't do the whole shot. don't mix opioids and ben sows and called 9-1-1 immediately if an overdose is suspected and assure them they will not be arrest if they report an overdose. so, i hear all these things and people get very, very upset, how can we stop people from dying? why are these death numbers so high? 88,000 in the last year. there's two reasons that people die. the first is that they use alone. our laws and stigma drive people into the shadows. when they use alone, with no one to provide naloxone or call
9-1-1, they can die. most people who overdose and die, they're not using with a group of friends. they're hidden off in the shadows. they're in behind a locked bathroom door. under a bridge. behind the dumpster someplace. you need to not use alone. the second reason is, a drug supply tainted by fentanyl. i'll explain fentanyl in a moment. the problem with fentanyl is that any dose, if poorly mixed, can kill even an experienced user. so in connecticut, along most of the east coast, heroin comes in a powder form and the parts of the west coast it's called black tar heroin a sticky substance but on the east coast and connecticut it's pods powder and one of the benefits of the powderhorn horn or -- heroin or
the drawback, it's easy to use. you can just snort it and you don't have -- your first introduction to heroin is not sticking a needle in-under mayor arm. it's putting a little on your thumb and breathing in. heroin is extremely cheap. you can buy six bags of heroin for the price of one 30-milligram ox -- oxycodone. so the heroin comes in little bags and have different bran nameds on them. the amount of the plastic spoon is the amount of heroin in one bag. a bag goes for four or five dollars. if you go in hartford and they think your from the country thy might charge you five dollars. if you're known you get charged four. if you buy a bundle you get $30 for it and if you buy 100 you can get is for as low as 1.7 a bag. anymore hard toronto, i had an
old woman who was passed out and not breathing and we didn't know what was going on and i thought, okay, puples are pinpoints. let's give her some narcan and she came around. had just gone to the dentist and her teeth were in pain and its was cleaner to get highway hundred on the streets than to buy aspirin. many years start using heroin and then graduate to i.v. injection. so here's the problem with fentanyl now. so, fentanyl is a white powder just like the heroin is a pawed sore it's indistinguishable from white heroin and there's a heroin that is brownish but it's hard to see. it's 50 to 100 times stronger than heroin that doesn't mean that one for a dollar bag of fentanyl is 50 times -- there's an active ingredient in it.
so here -- imagine somebody is mixing their drugs, if you're just selling heroin, you have 50% heroin and you mix it with 50% cut, and by cut i mean sugar, baking soda, whatever looks like it and you mick it up to increase the amount you have to sell. 1.1 graham 50% pure heroin is equivalent of a .1-gram back of fentanyl so it's easier to get an even mix when it's 50-50 as opposed to 1 out of 100. and in some case what happens is people get the fentanyl premixed where it's -- there's a bag that's like 10% fentanyl and they mix that with some cut but it's very difficult for them to get a fine amount so that we
know that they're always getting -- each bag has the same potency. [coughing] the other problem with fentanyl is is clump sod you get the chocolate chip cookie syndrome. you could get a four dollar bag of fentanyl and might not have any fentanyl it in at all or could have the chocolates chip cookie syndrome and it's 10% and it's a lethal dote and i should point out that it is so much more economically viable for the drug traffickers to do fentanyl than heroin. with heroin you have to cultivate it and you have to bring the stock across the border, because fentanyl is 50 to 100 times stronger it's 50 to 100 times smaller and easier to smuggle. in hart ford right now, we still
talk about heroin but the fact is that 90% of the heroin in hartford isn't heroin but it's fentanyl. pretty much every bag and we test a lot of them. it's just fentanyl. it's very hard. user say to me you can't find good heroin anymore. now, what also happening with fentanyl is dealers are buying pressing machines and they are making their own pills that are fake pills, and there's the -- this is like a -- it's not percocet or oxycodone and it's custody. s have hads quite a people overdosing thinking they're taking their normal 30-gram pill and instead it was counterfeit fentanyl. so there's a look at the overdose deaths since 2012 in
connecticut. you can see the overdose death have just skyrocketed nearly every year. we had a plateau in 2018, 2020 was the worst ever and the green line this percent of edition west virginia fentanyl involved. so it's killing people when they're using alone. i want to read a -- in conclusion, i just want to read a short passage from the book. so, one day i was at a community forum and one of the people there was brought up the fact that of a racial disparate where, it true that people are only paying attention to the epidemic now because it's in the suburbs and before it was in the cities and people didn't care. and i could understand that the person's bitterness.
for years people in the cities died and no one seemed to care but the addicts and junkies who threw their lives away with for poor choices. the the panel has gained attention in the suburbs to the point that people are tacking up about it and using their political power to fight on pa of their addicted sonses and daughters is not a bad thing. noer uses the suburbs were silent as their high-died while the death rite in suburbs seems to be improving similar gains north happening in hartford. nationwide the epidemicsing growing in the inner cities. where we as a nation, suburb and city, continue to speak out on behalf of all sufferers is 0 week to think this crisis will bring us together so we can treat everyone the same. millions in the cold who need our help to find their way home. this country and our military have a situation we leave no one behind. and ems says we have an obligation to honor the oath.
whatever -- i answer to help the sick. that commitment must apply to all. i have treated over those cases of all races, i have found people dead aflown carbon dark street in a seedy hotel room and the underbrush of a public park. if have treat overdoses in homes, rich and poor, where the patient was found by a loved one. go on, any of those calls and you'll never again consider any user deserving of their fate. she curls on the couch, sobbing. fund her son not breathing when he came home from their midnight shift. he is on the floor n95 mask first department first responders do compressions. the man is lean and muscle if wisdom jailhouse tattoos on his arms, chess and next. sit isn't a stretch to think that heroin is the cause. his mother's boyfriend confirms this to us. the man on the floor was a user. they argued about it every day, the boyfriend says, but he kept
using. heroin bags were retrieved from the floor in bathroom. we work on him 20 minutes without response. we call the hospital for permission to cease resuscitation. itself is granted. we remover the airway, electrodes electrodes and pads and replace them in the bag the am buie bag came. in his mom kneels over hims now, kissing his face, her tears following on his cold skin. she cry, come with me, comp with me. do do not go, do not go. my son, my love, my heart, i love you. i stand by his feet, holding a clean white sheet. i am motionless. i wrote this book to bring the
sights i've seen and the stories of the patients i cared for. to the public and hopes that it would change them in the same way they changed me. many years ago with payment a paramedic i worked in washington for governor riker when he as senator and then governor. and he used to say the mark of a country is note how well it treats its richest people but how it treats its most vulnerable citizens. and i think that's a principle we need to live up to. and the immigranty the surgeon journal and now it's at -- are we able to live up to that most fundamental obligations we have as human beings to care for one another? so, peace to all and thank you for listening to my
presentation. hope i didn't go on too along and aim happy to answer any questions you might have. >> thank you so much, peter. such a compelling and very enlightening presentation, and i have a couple of questions for you and i just -- withbe get to those i want to encourage our audience, if you have a question for peter, if you loo like characterization on his he went over in his presentation, go ahead and either put those in the chat or in the q & a and i'll filter them up to peter. i just -- it's such a heart-wrenching circumstance and the book is -- the stories are just so heartbreaking, and one question that i have is, how do you cope and maybe how would you encourage those who have a loved one who is dealing with addiction to cope and -- because its impacts so many more people
than just those who are using. wouldn't you say? >> yes. it's a very, very difficult situation, and i think that the thing that people have to understand, and it's very sad in a lot of cases is that there's so little education about what addiction is really about. when i went to paramedic school there was -- we didn't learn about addiction. we knew nothing but mental health. but in time you have to learn to recognize that this is a disease. i picked up one young man who had overdosed and dish learned boulevard this stuff. i was complaining to him how this works on the brain and this and that and he goes, you need to talk to my parents because he had been cast out, and i think the one thing that we all have to learn is that we have to
envelope these people with love and recognize it could be us. they could be in many cases are members of our family or community or loved ones who just by poor accident ended inon the other side. and we just have to embrace everybody and bring them together. i have often said if one motor vehicle daughter became an addict i would want her to shoot up at the kitchen table next to me so i could watch her rather than her shoot up under a bridge and be found dead by a stranger throw days later. >> sure. you talked but the harm reduction which i'm sure to some people feels a bet permissive. what would you say in response to that, and a followup that i'm just going to ask now is, we talked about just these incredibly gut wrenching stories. did you have some success stories of people able to recover and get back on their
feet or do you not see that side of it because as the paramedic speak aspect? >> you see at. all the time people come up to you -- this didn't happen to me but another paramedic told me about it. he was sitting in the ambulance, and a guy came up to him and said i want to thank you. i want to thank you for what you, meaning ems did for me. he goes i was a drug user, overdosed several times and you guys saved me. and then he reaches into his pocket and pulls out a picture and it's a picture of him holding a young child. my son would not be here tied if not for what you guys did for me. there are again, it's like, it's about keeping people alive. recognizing that addiction is a disease and we have to do everything we can to help people along the way to get to a pint
where they can be helped. we don't treat other diseases as criminal offenses. and all the research shows that safe injection sites, syringe exchange, they lead to much better outcomes. that would be my response. >> absolutely. just want to call out amy's comment in the chat, she also acknowledges that other countries have started using safe use sites and she hopes they will here as well one day and wants to thank you for addressing harm reduction in order to happen alleviate the stigma around it. >> sure. >> and so i love to hear a little bit about your journey from the iowa writers workshop if one. the most prestigious writing programs and working in
government. how did you become a paramedic? >> so, i also wanted to be a writer, but at the same tie i had worked for many years for riker when he was a senator in washington and i would go back and forth between working for him to going off and work on a job so i could write. and then in 1988, when he ran for re-election, he was upset by joe lieberman. so i found i had 30 years of age i was out of work, and i didn't really know what to do. so i moved up to springfield and had an apartment on the main street above the liquor store, and the ambulances would go by and i would look at out and go i wonder what those guys are doing and i sea an ad in the paper to be an emt and i decided to try that. i became an emt and then riker ran for a governor and i went back and worked for him to
become governor, and worked for him and wrote speeches for him but i had caught the bug, so i still work at night in the ems and i became a paramedic so when he left office in 1995, we had a big party, and we're all standing around and talking about what we are going to do and i said i'm going to become a paramedic, and it was like -- help people with my words anymore. i will try to help them with my hands. so i really found my true calling. i've been a paramedic in hartford ever since. the benefit to being a writer gave me interesting things to write about. and this book just sort of after a while -- i carry a laptop with me in the ambulance so in between calls i'll write about the calls i've had to try to understand them and i was getting so many amazing stories of the people that i met, that
the book just sort of came together rather easily. >> absolutely. well, it sounding lie your words are helping people today. hopefully that's book will continue to aid and breaking down stigmas around opioid use and addiction and the disease that addiction is as people read it. so, tell me a little bit about the last page -- i think it's the last page -- someone of the last pines the book, and it is the heroin bags of hartford. can you talk about that page? >> yes. so, the heroin in hartford comes in little glassy glassine snowfalls and have the dealingers brand on them and the dealer puts at particular brand and try to hype that and people
learn it's a particularly strong brand, they'll try to buy it that way. and i just -- sort of facinated by the different names they come up with. if you're talked about truth in advertising, the reaper, killing season the name of the book comes from a brand of heroin out there. people are not kidding the braineds they put out. have a chapter i got some brands they were using, kerr milted the frog, bugs bunny, miss kit kitty and i was upset because a kid its walking in a park -- these bags are all over the ground in hartford. we play a game sometimes with my partners is that anyplace the ambulance stops within 50 feet there's a heroin bag on the ground and if a kid picks up a bag and has kerr -- kermit the
frog and thinks it's powders sugar it's a horrible outcome. the brands now tend to be more with skeletons on them as opposed to kids stuff. >> that's such a great point about the dangers of advertising or pills that look a certain way that can be attractive to children. not just pharmaceutical over the counter or prescription pills nut in any drug. so risky. so, what do you see as a path forward? do you think there's a path forward? your opinion with regards to day, in terms terms of reduce -- addiction in terms of reducing the number of addicts. >> in in book i go over my sort of plan. you have to end the criminal prosecution of the war on drugs.
we spent so much money on the criminal side. we have to stop treating people whoa use drugs as criminals and treat them as medical patients. we have to fund antistigma campaigns. it's the stigma alone, as i mentioned the guy who volunteered after 9/11, despite all he had done for his country he believed his country thought he was scum bag because he was knew a drug user. stigma and draw drive people in the shadows and use alone and die. i'm a supporter of the safe injection sites. there are safe injection sites are illegal in the united states but they have done very well in other countries but there are -- i write -- there are places and there's one in hartford where people can go and they go and there's a bathroom, and they can use in that bathroom.
this difference between that bathroom and the bathroom down the street at the subway or mad mcdonald's where we find people dead and this bathroom after three minutes somebody knocks on the door and says, are how're -- how are you doing in there, friend? and if there's an overdolce they can correct it. a safe injection site you can have people using under the i'd a health professional and talk too them about getting help, can be there to help mentor them, but a lot of the people working on harm reduction are great success stories themselves. people who overcame addiction. so i do -- absolutely support harm reduction. these are the avenues that we need to take, the criminal prosecution in the war on drugs has been very expensive and things are worse off now than when that started. >> my final question for you this evening is about the
changes in the brain scans you showed during your power point. in your research did you find those were irirreversable changes. >> everybody is different. there's some people who their brain has been damaged beyond repair, but there are scans that show over time that brains have the ability to recover. if i had longer time i would -- i cut a bunch of slides normally show, where i show a difference in time where you can see the improvement in somebody's brain over time when they don't use. so, yes, recovery is possible for some people. for other people it's not. and what we want to try to do is we want to keep them alive and not just cast them off. so, it's a hard thing, but we
have to treat everybody as family and bring enemy in from the cold -- bring them in from the cold. >> thank you. as we begin to wrap up, why don't you tell everyone where they can find your blog, and if you have any last words you would like to share with tonight's audience. the floor is yours. >> sure. thank you. so i have a blog that i have been writing for, oh, probably almost 20 years now, it can be found at medicstrive.com dom or medicsdrive.com and sometimes nothing is up there but i write regularly about the opioid epidemic and other issues. i write about covid, what we're seeing out there. i'm on twitter, just joined twitter a few months ago and still learning the ins and outs but i'm on medics drive.
and my book can be purchased through the book store here, and it's -- i really hope that you read it or tell people about it. i hope that if you read the stories that you are affected by them in the same way i was. >> absolutely. su to much and to our audience if you heart already purchased a copy of "killing season" you can grab copy for yourself or the link is in the chat and thank you for joining us and taking about your incredibly moving back and sharing the things you learned along your journey education and the tools and harm reduction and i'm just one quick thing. army is something if you're an instagram? >> yes, i am. i'm trying to think what i have dish have to look what i have --
i think maybe medics drive might be my thing here. let me see. i am on there. and -- i'm a little -- medic scribe. >> your handles or consistent. to our audience thank you for join us and thank you for coming on, peter. >> thank you for having ♪ >> weekends on c-span2 are an intellectual feast. every saturday you'll find events and people that explore our nation's past on american history tv. on sundays, booktv brings you the latest in nonfiction books and authors. it's television for serious readers. learn, discover, explore weekends on c-span2.