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Needles everywhere

The Herald analyzes reports to the city's 311 system, finds discarded needles are showing up all across the city, including playgrounds, keeping parents wary and the city's four full-time needle removers busy.

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Comments

The only way to get rid of the needles-in-the-park problem is to have mounted police watch the the homeless addicts (they're not hard to miss). You have to get them right before they start shooting up. The second they shoot up, the effect of the narcotics make them completely oblivious to walking up to the nearest sharp disposal to get rid of their bloody, HEP-C tainted cutlerly. Thus, causing the needle to just slip out of their hands and onto the ground.

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my front steps are a favorite for the junkies in my hood. This is exactly it.. they get high, the needle falls and thats where it stays. So many needles found between my fence and my stairs.

Once they are high, they don't care about anyone else around them, except that they got high.

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It's easy to dehumanize people struggling with addiction and focus primarily on the ways that they disgust you, inconvenience you, frighten you, or make you feel unsafe. Some of them were probably awful people before they discovered heroin, but you don't need to be addicted to heroin to be an awful person. They were most likely just a regular person trying to make it through the day.

We are faced with a complicated public health issue; the harm caused by opioid dependence is very high, the lack of stable housing and treatment beds remains an impediment to progress, and it's a an enormous undertaking to address. Further, no one wants to take ownership of this massive issue due to the high costs, poor outcomes, and compassion fatigue. We end up just getting angry at the person who is struggling since it's easy to identify. Ultimately, no one who is dependent on opioids is making decisions in their own best interests, let alone in the best interest of their society. Physiologically, they are operating as if their greatest risk is withdrawal, and they are behaving accordingly.

These folks are products of a society that medicates suffering and seeks pharmacological shortcuts instead of addressing the deeper cause. From alcohol to heroin, the rates of problematic substance use have been escalating for some time. JAMA recently published an article indicating that 1/8 Americans meet criteria for alcohol dependence (http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapsychiatry/fullarticle/2647079), an increase of 49% over the first decade of the 21st century. People are looking for something to take away their pain, but those unfortunate folks on the corner of Melnea Cass and Mass Ave just happen to be the most visible example of it.

Maybe you'll never care to change your view on these folks, and that's your right as an American. However, if you're willing to, consider that these are the lost loved ones of another person, that they once had goals and dreams that were far beyond copping a 40 of fentadope outside the BMC ER and putting your kid at risk for a needle stick. Remember that the way we fund treatment for these folks are through both tax dollars and charity. In 2015, 33,000 accidental deaths involved an opioid, more than half of the total US military fatalities in Vietnam from 1965-1975.

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Look, I’m all in favor of these people getting cleaned up, and I think we as a society should do a better job of preventing people getting into this shit (heck, I’d probably be a junkie if
I ever tried it), but glossing over concerns like Cybah and the rest of us have is insane. Why should we suffer because they fucked up? My should I be in fear that Junior might stumble across a discarded needle?

So yeah, they are human, but at lot of them have become zombies living for smack.

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I don't disagree with you. I work in the field and was dependent on iv heroin from 2004-2008 before I was fortunate to get treatment. Went back to school and was lucky to still be eligible for student loans so I could pursue an MSW and MPH. I struggle with identifying as both a citizen and someone who was once in the same boat as so many of the folks I now provide care for. There are days I want to scream and tell them to get their lives together, and to not drain the precious few resources we have available. I also remember the suffering that goes to the very core of you, that you'd sacrifice almost anything to avoid. I remember how many times I thought "I'll just get well today, and tomorrow I'll deal with the immense wreckage I have created"...and how many times I just punted it once more.

It's an awful situation. Those struggling with addiction didn't chose to live a life on the fringes of society, at best tolerated by others, but mainly just resented by most people they interact with. We make small decisions that seems harmless at first (just a bump of some powder, just a line, just enough for today....) but those decisions slowly creep until one's faced with the fact that their entire life is consumed with an endlessly hungry force that is more terrifying than death. Even if we can summon the will to abstain for a day or two, it's the endless destruction that must be repaired, lack of occupational references, broken promises and devastated relationships...those are the things that hang over one's head. Society has no interest in us, and we have nothing to offer it anyway. Some of us are fortunate to have come from forgiving families that can lend a hand, or to have not yet totally decimated our careers. Many simply emerge from generations of poverty, social isolation, and criminal involvement. There are no good options for going straight because you have to pass a CORI just to get a job at a grocery store these days. How does one persist and succeed when everything from the society they must rejoin, to their own body and mind, seems to work as a bulwark of recovery.

A heroin dependent individual who wishes to stop using heroin will succeed about 11% of the time for 2 years. 89% will be less successful. Until we do our part to provide adequate treatment for these individuals, to provide access to vocational opportunities which are understanding of the actions of ones past, to provide access to safe and stable housing, and to accept that their actions may have been abhorrent, but it is not a measure of the individual who chooses to move away from those actions, we will not see this problem improve. Our jails are overcrowded, we deinstitutionalized the state hospital system, and we blew up the band-aid bridge that kept most of these folks out of sight and out of mind on that little island off of the coast of Quincy. There's no where for them to go, so they stay close to the few places that meet their most basic needs, or interface with their lives regularly: a prison, a detox, an emergency room, and a homeless shelter.

There's nothing we can say or do that is any worse than what one already says and does to themselves while they are out there. It's a tragic existence.

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I'm sorry I am suppose to feel some sort of Sympathy? No Sorry. Not anymore.

Look, I just had a cousin die from an heroin OD so I am suppose to be more sensitive to this. I'm also an ex drug addict myself so I know the recovery life cycle. But I also live in Chelsea so I see the worst of the worst. My sympathy has waned alot.

The house next door is abandoned. It now has become a magnet for junkies. All hours of the day or night they are breaking into the house so they can shoot up or trade blow jobs for smack inside. Every few hours we'd shoe someone away, only to have someone ELSE come back and try to break in. I know it's a home owner/police issue, and we're working with them on that, but seem like the problem is the junkies here. The house is even more secure, not after they found tons of used needles inside from the junkies using it as a shoot up pad. And I'm suppose to feel sympathy for people?

I'm suppose to feel sorry for folks who sit on my steps at 6am on Saturday morning and shoot up?

I'm suppose to have sympathy for people who leave dirty needles everyone on my front steps, along with empty smack tear off bags that I have to pick up that could have Fentanyl in them

I'm suppose to have sympathy for the women who I see who as been revived six times, but just goes back to using? I suppose to feel sorry for her? Sorry, I don't.

I'm suppose to feel sympathy for the endless people who troll my street late at night because they are all high and have no where to go?

I'm suppose to feel sympathy for the crackhead prostitutes who run down alleys at night to give guys blow jobs so they can get drugs?

I'm suppose to feel sympathy for these folks? REALLY? I'm just as liberal, pro drug treatment, as anyone else, BUT please, come over. I'll play back some security footage from my camera system, show you the pictures I took of the house next door and all the needles inside. We'll also wake up at 5am and stroll the streets so you can see how you're suppose to 'feel sorry" for some of these people while watching they do their junkie dances or pass out cuz they did too much. After dealing with this garbage every day, your sympathy wears off very fast.

I'm all for people who want help, but its clear.. at least the junkies in my hood. Most don't want help. So they have made a decision to keep using.

Sorry my sympathy only starts when you've asked for help, not when you continue to be an addict.

Yeah I am not making any friends here, but after the past 3 weeks of junkies next door, and having crap taken out off my back porch (and later found in crack house). My patience is non existent now.

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Menino had it in for the mounted police and Ed Davis wasn't going to stand up to his boss. Walsh is too much of a developer and union puppet to pay attention to an issue like bringing that capability back. I don't imagine Bill Evans will stick his neck out any more than Ed Davis did on the issue. Pay, perks, and pleasing the political establishment are more of a concern the department than lobbying for equipment or restoring lost capabilities.

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I'm not following why the police need to be mounted. Can't the police just walk a beat?

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But without the expense of maintaining horse patrols.

Going to have to think about what we could use to improve park patrols so that cops can cover a lot of ground without using a motorized vehicle. Maybe something with wheels and a way to carry bags?

Hmmm.

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I bet the cops will be PSYCHED to push around shopping carts.

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Tactical Segways aren't taxpayer friendly.

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Addicts have to take some responsibility and return discarded needles in exchange they could be compensated to the tune of a quarter a needle similar to the bottle bill.

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Leaving needles out in playgrounds and parks, where children and other innocent people can easily be infected, should be taken very seriously. If someone is doing that, I think that's grounds to take them off the street involuntarily for a while, and put them under supervision, for the safety of others. Hopefully they accept treatment, but at least they're not threatening others for a while.

And, illegally dealing opiates, given all the terrible effects we're seeing, should result in long prison time.

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I think that's grounds to take them off the street involuntarily for a while, and put them under supervision, for the safety of others. Hopefully they accept treatment,

If treatment were available, many of them would take themselves off the street voluntarily and get under supervision themselves.

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Fence them in, put in automated locking systems that open them at 8am and lock them down at dusk.

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Need an ordinance to at least only allow bright Red colored needles of course with a clear window to see the contents for legit uses. Red would hopefully signal "Don't Touch" or maybe an ugly contrasting color kids aren't attracted to but is easily seen.

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There's no such thing as a brightly colored object that kids aren't attracted to. I have a toddler who likes to go on walks around the neighborhood, I can speak somewhat authoritatively on this. -.-

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Do playgrounds have sharps containers? You could mount them next to the organic sunscreen.

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Such a sensible solution the city will never do it.

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I believe at some point they did put several up, which were immediately stolen by junkies (who probably wanted the needles inside)

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If there's too much fentanyl in the heroin then at least the pointy end of the needle will stay sheathed in the addict's arm, out of harm's way.

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I was walking around the Seaport on Saturday and noticed a fire truck pull up to a couple of people who apparently had called 911 to report a discarded needle on the sidewalk. That made me wonder what is the appropriate/best way to report these. It was in the middle of the sidewalk so it did pose some danger, however I don't think I would have done the same. How promptly do the calls get responded to when using 311?

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If I found a razor blade on the street, I'd probably pick it up, put it into something cardboard (the coffee cup I just finished?) and toss it into a trash can. Not necessarily smart or risk-free by any means, but I wouldn't call 911. A needle is, on the one hand, substantially more likely than a razor blade to carry a life threatening pathogen, but, on the other hand, less likely than a razor blade to stick you if you handle it carefully. Also not something to put in a trash can because it could stick the person collecting the trash. I still wouldn't call 911, but I would probably not try to pick it up with bare hands either. Last time I found one there was a park ranger right there, so I did the old, "you deal with this" cop out.

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Oh great, the junkies have made their way to the Seaport now? It was one of the last places in the city that was free from this crap.

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Sorry pal, the junkies were there long before the yuppies, the shiny new building, the asphalt roads, etc. It was the waterfront remember?

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