tv Author Discussion on the Opioid Crisis CSPAN September 1, 2021 9:49am-10:46am EDT
thank you for joining us this evening and peter, thank you for coming on and sharing. >> and a chance to talk about this. ♪♪ >> weekends on c-span2 are an intellectual feast. every saturday american history tv documents america's story and on sundays book tv brings you the latest in nonfiction books and authors. funding for c-span2 comes from these television companies and more including buckeye broadband. ♪♪ >> buckeye broadband, along with these television companies support c-span2 as a public service. >> i'm lisa hillman. welcome to the 18th annapolis book festival.
special thanks to keith for coordinating the festival and all of our sponsors and anonymous donor helping to underwrite this. and when we begin, first of all, there should be i think a green ask a question button at the bottom of your screen. as we need today with our two excellent offers, please feel free to write your question in there and we get near the end of the session, we'll answer your questions, number one. and number two, buy their books. i've had the pleasure of reading several of these books and i think i'm a better person for it. so please buy your books. and we're here to talk about the toll of the opioid crisis and this well be the tale of the opioid crisis because both of these authors tell us stories about opioids that we all need to be aware of. to set the stage i want to share three facts, one,
overdose deaths are the number one killer of young americans. americans under age of 50. number two, the drug crisis was before the pandemic, but covid has only made it worse. last year more than 90,000 people in our country died from overdose making it one of the worst years ever. and number three, tragically many of these deaths resulted in fentanyl. fentanyl is a drug that's killing more americans every year than any drug in history. we're going to learn more about these facts today. let me introduce them to you. first coming to you from annapolis, maryland, as am i is a friend and colleague, jessie dunleavy. an activist and advocate for drug policy. she's testified before the maryland general assembly.
jessie's memoir, cover my dreams in ink, is a searing attempt of one mother's desperate attempt to save her son. misdiagnosed from early childhood paul dunleavy grows into manhood plagued by mental health and addiction and his life ends at 34 due to fentanyl. and she told us, it's all the mother trying to prevent others from experiencing the same. also with us today is dan and he's award winning journalist and like jessie, ben testifies before governmental agencies.
and his book is how synthetic drugs are killing americans, many young like paul who have the no idea what they're actually usingment we need founders across the country from grand forks north dakota, to the streets of los angeles which i think ben is today. he describes an out of control drug economy where it's far too easy to switch a molecule or two making an illegal substance legal. thereby lifting it past regulators to unsuspending use. the book is filled with drug makers, drug dealers and a world gone mad and we go beyond the scenes to a fentanyl plan in of all places wuhan, china. the final chapters of both of these books bring these authors together and we are going to talk about that. ben, let's begin with you.
your book is not an easy read. when you wrote this book, tell us, first of all, tell us why you wrote it and as you wrote it, who was your primary audience? >> i had a friend who died from fentanyl in 2010. and before anyone knew what it was, he took the patches and the early stage of the fentanyl crisis were based on the pharmaceutical fentanyl, but in the ensuing years it went over into the recreational realm. in the last five years, fentanyl has become an awful crisis that you've described, lisa. >> i was a music writer at the time, covering the rave scene and i kept hearing about all of these young people dying at raves at the big electronic dance music parties. and i wanted to know why they were all dying.
and it turns out they were all of these new drugs infiltrating the scene that i'd never heard of, you know, like hundreds and hundreds of new drugs. and it turns out they were all synthetic. they were all made in a lab, and they all came in china. and so i wanted to know more about this and they included fentanyl. and i wanted to know how they came to mass. and so that's what inspired me to actually go to china and go undercover into some of these drug operations. >> so tell us more about that and did you ever fear for your own safety? >> yeah, it was a little hairy definitely. i pretended to be a drug buyer. it was very easy to do, actually, in terms of finding these companies because i just
googled buy fentanyl in china and all of these companies came up with female addresses, phone numbers for the salespeople. i use made a fake e-mail and fake company and they said yesment i ended up going to wuhan, this is before the coronavirus, so no one had-- most americans were not familiar with it at all. it's basically kind of like the china, the chicago of china. it's centrally located with about 11 million people and there's a huge chemical industry part of which is dedicated to the clandestine industry. the majority is actually aboveboard making the pharmaceutical pills, the nashgs generics that we saw. and i saw the sales floor, which was hundreds of people.
hundreds of young people fresh out of college who are is iting at cubicals, basically like they were selling any other product, except that they were selling fentanyl precursors. these are the drugs used to make fentanyl and completely legal in china and their main client are the mexican cartels. and so that's how the majority of fentanyl gets into merc now, it's made in china, it's sent to the mexican cartels to process it and send it over the border. so, you know, i also ended up going to a fentanyl lab and that was in shanghai and that was a very sort of hair-raising venture that i described in my book "fentanyl, inc.", but if you have suffice to say that
when i got in the car, security guys didn't know where i was going, probably not the wisest thing for me to do, but i really got extensive just how big this industry is. they were making massive quantities of these types of fentanyl, know the to mention k-2 and spice which are all promoted, synthetic marijuana. these are awful drugs, but what they had in common, because they were all legal in chinament so through that loophole they were sent into the u.s. >> so you mentioned, i recall that seeing in the book where you're in the car and you got out okay, but for that moment. you mentioned that china sends most of the drugs to the mexican cartels. how does it get here to the u.s.? >> the cartels basically process it and distribute it. first it's brought over the
border, usually through cars and trucks and secret compartments. what makes fentanyl such a deadly and popular drug, it's so cheap to make that it's so much more potent than other drugs. >> 50%, so that means a shipment of 50 pounds of heroin, that's takes a lot of spice space. one found of fentanyl will pack the same punch and it's much easier to hide for transport. once it gets into the u.s., it's distributed by all of these sort of local affiliates and they range from, you know, organized crime, to, you know, south american gangs to african-american cliques and it
really varies throughout the country. >> in your book you also describe quote, unquote, the dark web. you know, a lot of us have heard that term. i don't think that many a lot of us are familiar with that term. explain that to us because anyone who has a child or a grandchild, it sounds a little frightening. ... a disguised internet protocol where the i ps, the addresses for all these different companies selling drugs are disguised. companies selling drugs so there's no way to really know where they are physically located, if you are buying on the dark web using encrypted software, encrypted browsing. these messagess are scrambled,
and so it's very difficult for law enforcement to track it down basically. so you're right it is a very scary situation and what i tell young people is that fentanyl can be anything right now. they can be in any powder or any pill, and these are pills that look exactly like a prescription xanax or percocet. they are made the same except they contain fentanyl and they can kill you. >> we'll get to how you get to that sort of thing a little greater but before we go to jesse i wanted to mention, your book is filled with so many names and so many strange characters. nefarious individuals. can you maybe draw from maybe one or two of the drug dealers, the dealers who maybe didn't start out that way but then somewhere along the line they became that way? web
fentanyl dealer who first of all he agreed to meet me in person which i was shocked about, but he had two young daughters. he was a -- an opioid use disorder victim himself, and like a lot of people he got into an accident, was prescribed oxyton continue and then when his prescription ran out he turned to underground drugs, to the black market, and he sort of made his case for why he was doing this dark web drug dealing, something that most peopling would think would agree is sort of a pox on society but he said he was supporting his daughters and helping other people who had opioid use disorder, people who were addicted to opioids themsels and couldn't afford these expensive prescriptions , their
prescriptions ran out and he said gives the people what they need to stop going through withdrawal, at an affordable price, and so i'm not necessarily sure that i agree with his rationale but there's certainly -- we think of drug dealers as the bad guy and drug users and drug dealers being separate people but often it's just the drug dealingers are the same -- have day, day,s themselves. >> withwe leave you i thunderstorm the scene without the missing silo site. how did you find that? >> well, there's a miss called wamago, kansas. there was a countries our perhaps even the world's biggest lsd manufacturing site around the turn of the millennium, and its was run by this kind of
crazy cast of characters, including these sort of eccentric psychedelic check chemists and a strip are from a nearby town who got ensnared into it without at first realizing what it was. all of these sorts of nuclear silos were left over from the cold war, and were sold off to individuals, and so they had this giant sort of underground lay liir where they're throwing parties and manufacturing vast quantitieses of lsd until one of the chemists turned on the other and tipped off the feds and i had just read body it a little bit and ended up doc talking to these chemists and the legacy of that story is that when it was
wiped out the lsd supply became almost completely cut off in the u.s. so this new drug entered the picture, and it's called enbalm and it's marketed at lsd, sold as lsd but it's not and it's actually fatal and killed a lot of people. so it's kind of a tale how drug prohibition has a rot of bad unintended consequences. >> thank you don't go away. let's turn to jessie. bengies us the very global international view, and right here at home we have a very localized view of what fentanyl can do, what an overdose can do. jessie, tell us about you book. begin with -- there is may be an obvious question but why did you writes this book? >> i wrote this book because my son had just died. he died of an overdose in april
april 2017, but as a a child well before his drug use, he didn't start until he was in his 20s so he was not a teenager who had gravitated toward that. he had a lot of disabilities and he was misunderstood because his disabilities didn't fit into any one neat category, and we exploder a lot of doctors and neurologists and psychiatrists and there was never a label but he did have certain components such as he had a language impairment, and for him that language impairment meant that he couldn't retrieve the words fast enough between his thinking of it and being able to say it, the lag time was such its prevented him from entering into conversation us because when he would think of what he wanted to contribute, by the time he got the words, the conversation had
moved on, and so he learned at an early age he didn't have anything to offer as far as he felt, and so he was reticent and he was misunderstood in school because while the language impairment did impede with his ability to share his thoughts, his thoughts were as good as anybody else's. he just didn't know that and other people didn't know that. he was frustrated being locked inside of himself and he also had hand tremor. he was test evidence when he would freshman and the noorolist, world renowned, said his hand tremors come from displaying what he knows and he is in the 99 percentile in terms of visual purr perception but he can tell you that show to language impairment and hand
tremor which were holding him back. so the turned to writing as a teenager and he would write -- lie in bed at night and write and write and write with a flash boiled and then ball it up and throw it away and go to school where he was misin other words and mistreated because he was -- i would uncrumple the papers and try to read them, some of it you can't read because his hand writing was very difficult to read. but what i could read, i said this is good. so, i knew about him, he had deeper thoughts than others knew, and when he got a computer, when he was a little older and could take advantage of that, i started to look at his poetry and said you should share this with teacher. no. he already learned that the school can't have any respect for him and he didn't want to go there. so he did finish high school by the time he was in 20, and he
continued to write. he shares a lot of his poem with me but not all of it. fast forward he would die at the age of 34 and i got his laptop and he was also very close to me so he shared this password with me for everything so i went on to his laptop and i was researching but reading poise post triand i know him, his mother but i thought, he is so talents and so gifted with words and absolutely nobody knew him would believe it. so i just wanted to publish his post tri. show him off and publish his post triand i -- poetry and i realized doing that in isolation how misin other words he was and marginalizes and how he was views as having really nothing much to offer, i couldn't imagine -- so he died in april and by july i had started to
write the book and i intertwined the two. the poetry with his life story, and dislife story is the addiction doesn't start until a good halfway through the book. >> his own writings, is own poetry inspired your writing, correct? >> absolutely. yes. and in that -- i don't thick would have written the book if it weren't for the poetry. >> you have given us a couple of example examples. we have counselors or teachers or legislators it might be you giving us some example youch say he was misin other words and miss misdiagnosed. give us a few examples. >> well, he -- because he didn't have much to say, and he was also attentionally impairment and wasn't classic add and adhd
medications didn't address his inattentiveness so between this inattentiveness and world retrieval problems he was thought to be less capable than he was and i didn't realize how capable he was so i wasn't fighting for any kind of intellectual stimulation. wanted him to learn what he was capable of learning but he was thought to not have -- he went to school where the focus was landscaping or setting a table or things that weren't at all stimulating to his sense of ideas and his wanting to grapple with his ideas to tell you the truth, and i don't really blame the school system because he was hard to understand, and he was hard to get to because of his
inattentiveness, so his mistreatment came from people underestimating him and then other kid's make fun of him or would feel they weren't being successful say they couldn't serve him anymore and so our choices kept narrowing over time so that's the way in which he was misunderstood. there was no real way for him to reveal what he knew unless it was a very astute educator and we did have a few of those as well as neurologistsists and psychiatrists. they weren't enough of a network to put him in a system that moved him along and so by the time he graduated from high school he had been in nine schools. and so it was frustrating. he never felt known. he was -- lost his confidence in terms of socialization so just hung back. and he --
>> jessie, another aspect of your book is that you're a first time author, and we love first time authors. can you say a little about about the experience of being a first-time published author? >> sure. what i learned first of all is just gathering information from the past, which is the first step. you learn so much about the connections between something that you did in the year he was 18 and you could connect it back to the year he was six or you start to see threads of commonnalitt and some of them were oversights on my part and so it was a steep learning curve just in terms of his life and how it unfolded, and i guess that would be true of any memoir, because what you realize is the situations that you lived
through, even though you lived them yourself you don't think of them as connected. you think of them is a just disparate and then pull it together you make connections. so i learned a tremendous amount about myself about paul and what he suffered and obviously i learned about what it takes to move a book from a manuscript to a published book, and all of it was a lot more labor intensive than i envisioned, and i was never sorry that i embarked on it at any point in time but it was -- the learning curve kept on keeping on. it is a lengthy process. i wrote it pretty quickly imi started in -- maybe early starting of it in july or august, and i had finished its
by april and i didn't know at the time is that that is on the faster side. and i was motivateed by grief and i didn't know anything about writing a brook or memoir and i didn't research what writing a book or writing a memoir is. just sat down to write because it was almost like it was bolted up -- bottled up in me and i had to do it. after i did finish the manuscript, i did double back and read a little bit about writing a memoir and advice, tips another people have shared and i shared the manuscript with one good friend and she said, this is so good. this is going to be a great book, and i thought really? i didn't have illusions about necessarily becoming a book but when i read the tipped about
writing a me. moyer, tip under one, don't ever write when you're in the grieving process. i was totally in the grieving process and motivated by that. so i thought, oh, well, you know. that's just one thing. the second one was don't listen to your friends. i thought, okay, i'm off to a good start here. but so then i did have an agent and i feel fortunate about that because being such a novice and she is -- this is her line of work. she is the one who then took the manuscript, and started the process of seeking a publisher and then i had to write the book proposal and do all the things you have to do to take to its the next step. but she did the real -- looking for a publisher and knowing how to present the information in a way that would serve me well.
and i still turn to her. so i feel very lucky. >> thank you. before we -- i'm not going to let you go, jessie. his listeners, please don't by shy to ask questions this may the be thans to get your mose important question about substance abuse or drugs or where they come from or what to do, answered. so please feel free do drop down to ask a question puton, i think at the bottom of the screen -- and ask your question and he'll get to that jessie, before we go back to ben, session on opioids we haven't touched on that will poff by and don't want to -- paul -- it's in your book so it is information that is already out there. speak a little bit, please, about his substance abuse. you said that happened later in his life. how did you become aware of that
and as a mom, we want to protect our kids and fix them and we find out we can't, but as a mom, how did you become aware of it and what actions did you take? >> i really was unaware of it initially. the first thing i saw was beer bottles under our back deck and i asked him about it, and he said i am 21. and i remember this conversation because i said, he's of age, mature, 21-year-old, stash theirs bottles under a deck. trying to show him this is a concern for me and a concern about the combination of the drinking with the medication he takes. i'm concerns about your motivation because it's interesting because as a parent you worry about peer pressure put you worry but the absence of it, too and didn't have a lot of
friends so i feeling responsible thinking you're out having beer with some friends. maybe a bad influence but your doing something that i so and fun but he was by himself but his behavior became erat tick in a way. always sweet natures. insight. and kind and very close to me but he was becoming -- i would say at times almost belligerent, and its wasn't like him and i was so frustrated -- he was frustrateres because of his experience and now he's mature enough to know how limited he is and how held back he is. but one night i said to him, i can't put up with this anymore and you can go live in a homeless shelter or i'll take you to a hospital because there's something wrong here, and you are not acting in a way that is responsible or that's can tolerate. and so he chose the hospital and
it was when we got there and his angst dissipated on the ride and he told me how to get there but before he ever saw a doctor he told the intake nurse he was addicted to cocaine. i was floored. i was floored. that was the beginning and i'd say he was 22, 23 maybe, and so he went into treatment after that. and at first he was in a place that had a diagnosis program and it was pretty good, and i thought the people were wise and carolina about him and were helpful. but he went from there to another place that wasn't so good, and so i had a lot to learn about what to even look for in terms of help. i've already answered your question. >> thank you. that's great. so now actually a question for both of you, and some of the
questions are starting to come in and we religion get to. those -- we'll get those. a couple of questions for each of you. want to get to the conclusions in your book you have come to and the fact you both have testified before government and so forth. i guess ben you first. tell us about where is this going? what can we do to stop it, prevent it, to heal america? and how did you get there and what is it you -- when you testify for congress, what is it you're telling them? >> it's kind of staggering that the opioid crisis might not be getting as much press as it did in the last decade or so. we have opioid crisis fatigue, but covid dominated the
headlines for so long, but what we have is another pandemic, and this one is getting much, much worse, 2020 the numbers are going in over 90,000 overdose drug deaths and that's the worse of all time by a lot, and we have had sort of the -- a period of time where cocaine deaths were the worse drug scourge we had the country. those are uppers and now we have a wave of donors with the opioids, and -- downers with the opioids and the probable ledge is fentanyl in particular is not just an opioid problem. fentanyl is being cut into heroin, not only just heroin but being cut into cocaine and meth and prescription pills and the amount of people who are actually taking heroin is aa
fairlying small number the country, it's not that common but now that's it's getting to pills, pillingser very widely taken, and i think there's a misperception that this is something you get from a doctor or something you get at a pharmacy that it's going to be safe. but the black market of pills, any and all of them can have fentanyl, and so the first thing i think we need a lot better access to is drug checking technology, so technology is kind of a big words but what are widely available is something called fennel testing strips -- fennel fennel test strips and there's just like a pregnancy test. you dip them into your solution of drugs and there's one line that means its has fennel fentanyl and if there's two lines its doesn't, and that's -- these fentanyl testing strips
are actually illegal in a lot of states, including my home state of missouri, and that is a big problem from the start. we need to -- people need to be able to tell what they have. i'm a big proponent of what is known at harm reduction, and harm reduction is the philosophy that people are always going to use drugs. we might not want them to, especially kids, but it is like sex, and it's comparable to this idea the abstinence movement, akin toburg your head in the sand. kids are always going to have expects use drugs and we needs to make the environment safe, help them do its more responsibly and educated them. when imcomes to drugs like fennel, nobody wants to use that. people for by and large are not
choosing to use fentanyl on purpose 'we needs to educate people what this drug is. odd odd [loss of audio] -- opioid overdose we need to make that more available. we need to have -- i push for what is known at supervised injection facilities, which are popular in europe and canada but nothing in the u.s. because they're illegal. places where drug use is legal on the premises but doctors and nurses are there to oversee the process. there's clean needles, syringes. it is basically a safe environment to use drugs, and no one has ever overdosed from one of these facilitieses. i visited one in barcelona and they've had an amazing story in that city where the parks and all these public areas were cluttered with discarded
syringeses before these facilities came. in they high rates of testing aids and other sexually transmitted diseases through needle sharing, but once these -- this supervised injection facilities came to barcelona, the syringeses in public places were almost entirely gone. the age rate -- aids rate dropped and these facilities are an opportunity to connect drug useers with siege services -- siege eshen sal services, doctors that can hedge peep taper off the drugs. the biggest misperception about opioids is that they sort of -- the drugs get their chemical hooks in you and you become addicts and there's no turning back. the reality is, it's not just a chemical process. it has a lot to do with the
user's life situation. so if somebody is struggling a lot of what jessie said resonatessed with me in that regard. if somebody is struggling in their life and they have sort of undiagnosed unrecognized issues, drug addiction irmore likely the sort of -- to maintain but if people are receiving not only the help they need methadone, other drugs to help taper and receiving counseling and helping to kind of get their lives in order, the ability to come off these drugs is much higher. >> ben, thank you for all that. harm reduction is a theme for both of you in your book and i know jessie you write a lot about harm reduction in thedder toalized in our local --eder toalize in our local media.
why is that here in maryland, maybe in the united states, we are so resistants to the methods that ben just cited that work in other countries. why went we do that here. >> we're resistant because we criminalize drug use, and because we criminalize drug use, and i'm not talk bought people who violate the rights of others. time talking about people who possess or use drugs personally. we have made that a crime. and it is impossible to divorce criminalization from this stigma, and it's the stigma that keeps people from understanding the harm reduction is anything less than just enabling criminals to conduct their criminal behavior. so until we end the war on drugs, we have an uphill battle and the us is behind the curve.
her highest overdose fay fatality in world and there isn't a close second. it's hard to see the graph that shows you every country. the united states is between three and 28 times higher overdose death when compared to other modern countries. we have more people criminalized than any other country in the world. we have five% of the world's population and 25% of its prisoners and a huge percentage of those people are in jail because of drug possession. they can find a way intending to criminal acts, violent crimes, and overloading our prisons, we spend more money to frustrate people than we do to educates them. so we are resistant to the change because we are hell bent on the war on drugs, and so it is why we can't get a safe consumption site opened.
philadelphia came as close as any i know of that was going to open a legal overdose prevention site and the doj in pennsylvania find some loophole in a law from 25 years ago to stop the opening even though it was ruled in the first hearing as legal there was an appeal process. so it is very frustrating because we have a war on drugs meant and incarcerates people like paul and all that did is set him back. so, we have to stop criminalizing drug use. we have a long way to go but that is the bugaboo and it's why people don't want a safe consumption site in their neighborhood because drug use is associated with criminals and poor and all of that's wrong. most people who use addictive drugs do not become addicted.
only 20 percent do, and of those who do, by far most of them recover on their own without any kind of treatment. the people who can't recover, the people who drug use escalates to completely wreak havoc with their lives, the people most likely to arrest and the people hat have the most amount of insecurities or disadvantages that have landed them there. and so we're criminalizing them and the war on drugs was never intended to save lives or be helpful. it is just all about locking up the people that are breaking the law by committing this crime of drug use. it's not a crime. what i put in my mouth should not be any concern for what the criminal justice system is even bothering with. so, we have a long way to go.
>> jessie, just say no doesn't work. just kidding. >> just say no doesn't work. d.a.r.e. program that was popular in the country and has been exposed for not doing what it set out to do, kids are too smart. know that from being an educator for 40 years. you can't just scare them. you have to give them information and as ben said they need drug education. it's -- we needs to understand the laws and need to understand what you do when you get yourself in situations. could we life-threatening you need to know how to work within a group of young people that you're not going to have your teacher or your parents there to advise you. so i think we're short changing them by letting scare tactics still rule when we talk to them
about drugs because we're not comfortable saying if you're in this circumstance, we have to say no, people that use drugs are bad and that makes them hide it. and hiding it makes you overdose alone. and so -- and of these 120 some safe consumption sites in the world there's been zero fatalities and these countries have lowered their death tolls bet but we will just not let go of the fact it's a crime. so. >> so a couple of questions because they're all related to what you're saying right now. one question is, and i -- you touched upon it, ben, but along with harm rox can what do you -- harm reduction what do you think of medication treatment,ing me
don't. >> methadone is legitimate he a strong drug, and actually thousands of people, americans every year, overdose and die on methadone. it's still often better than the alternative but -- a partial agonist and doesn't guff user the same he i bit tarps away the feeling of were drawl to says a good drug for tapering off opioid use. others drug is meltrexone and that's an opioid blocker and that's sort of unheralded butler successful time for a lot of people and eliminating the need for opioidses at all. so, the good news is that there are a lot of different good possibilities and it's absolutely something that the government should be pulling invested in to fight the
problem. >> isn't substance abuse issues severely unfunded. >> that's changing. under the trump administration and the biden administration we have seen kind of unprecedented levels to fight the problem. it's probably not enough. the problem is still getting worse. i think what we also need to do is like jessie was saying, change the laws. there's been criminal justice reform for other drugs, for penalties for most drugs are actually going down by a lot but for some reason for fentanyl they're getting worse. i think -- i understand the impulse and someone loses someone close to them they want to fight back, but the problem is that it's counterproductive. so, i think the most important thing to change is still hearts
and minds, realize that drug users aren't someone over there. it's not some special people with bad morals or whatever. drug users are everywhere month month us and they're just like anyone else. >> jessie for you a very localized question. ben i apologize to you on this one. the very local issue here in annapolis, a question has come up, what do you think of distributing crack pipes? >> it's all harm reduction and it's not unrelated things to clean syringes which we learn in the 80s were life-saving and cut down on the spread of infectious disease. and so the same is true with crack pipes. the harm reduction kits given out in places in baltimore and in other cities, it's not as widespread as its should be, it
cuts down on the spread of disease, and it also, as ben was mentioning with regard to the phenomenon of safe consumption sites, once people know you're there to help them, not there to arrest them or to accuse them of wrong doing, you're there to keep them safe, because before fentanyl we had a quarter of the deaths we have now. our death toll has quadrupled in the last decade and i said those people go on to recover well now they're dying before the get the chance to recover so anything we can do to keep them safe while they're in the to statement. doesn't last forever of drug use, then it's just another form of harm reduction, and i understand how you need to pave the way for those things and to promote understanding, so that people don't have a reaction
that is unfortunate because all the information isn't there. but harm reduction does not encourage drug use. it is -- and the pipes are the same thing. i'm not going to go start to use drugs because they had clean pipes now. just not. >> and it's part of harm reduction. i assume you would recommend that -- as many of as possible have narcan with us. >> narcan is something that has saved a lot of lives and it has -- round here anyway it seems to have gained more of a footing as a legitimate offering that we can get behind for saving lives but we are less open minded with clean syringe program and certainly close minded when it comes to the next
step of -- safe consumption sites and we still want to criminalize people for paraphernalia. maryland just decriminalizeed paraphernalia. so there are pockets of progress but until we undo the war on drugs, which has been such a failure. it has not done anything to save a life. it has not done anything to reduce the number of drugs, the amount of drugs on the streets. when you talk about money, it goes to the dea in blocking packages coming in so what happens? they smuggle in smaller apples but with more lethal drugs. so, i really think the war on drugs is at the heart of the
problem. >> so, we are coming down to just a few minutes left and i guess i would like to -- before i ask ben and jessie for closing statement i'm very curious what ben might be working on next. can you share anything with is? >> yes, my next book is about my relationship with my little brother me, mentee in the big brothers big sisters program. so we were padres paired two 2005 and together for 11 years until he was murdered in 2016 near his home in ferguson, missouri, which is near where i live in st. louis, and the murder was unsolved and so this book is about my own investigation to try to figure out what happened, and i learned all sorts of stuff about his life that i didn't know before, and it is about kind of
st. louis and the problems over the years, ferguson came out over national consciousness in 2014 with the michael brown killing and the launch of the "black lives matter" movement and that was flight his backyard basically -- right in his backyard so it's bow that. >> thank you. we look forward to seeing that. and jessie, share what you're woking on. >> it is a second edition of my current book, and a lot of positive feedback on the book, and it's been in part -- it's an an eye-open are with regard to day, -- addiction and pauls poetry was something that people enjoyed so the next edition has more of his post tri. right now the post triis intertwined and then in the back
in full, and i just added more poetry and i did rewrite the epilogue because i wanted wanteo elaborate more on the thinged learned and the ways i think we need to move forward the cover has been redesigned so it's not -- the book is the chapters are the same so it will be coming out sometime this summer. >> as we begin to close, i want to ask each of you for any kind of closing comments you'd like to make. have a feeling a lot of parents listening today, too, and grandparents wanting to know what do i do about my kids and protect them. so jessie, we'll give you word ask then go right to ben. >> well, drug education programs are important, and i think having open minded conversations with kids, with their teachers
and parents, and having it fact based is helpful. think that identifying kids as risk and promoting programs accordingly is help and if think that decriminalizing is -- would good a long way to saving lives and just ending this war on drugs that has nothing too with life safing but in terms of helping kids i think communication and obviously people have had interests are better off than people who have just lived a life that -- either through poverty or neglect or some kind of a disability or disadvantage, and we need to empower our kids with facts and with interest and they -- and then as they do use drugs, they're most likely to fall into the majority of people who outgrow it.
>> thanks, jessie. we have 60 seconds, ben i'll give you 30 seconds of that. >> i agree with a lot of what jessie said and i think everything jessie said and i think honesty with your kids, i'm a parent of young kids myself and i speak with a lot of young people in their 20s and teens and i telling them the sad fact is when i was your age you could kind of take a pill at a party and you probably be okay, but the landscape has changed and there's a difference between taking a -- smoking some marijuana and snorting a line of something at a party. it's just not safe anymore. if you don't check it. >> ben, thank you. jessie, thank you. as we close, as wede close, just a reminder o please pick up these books today, if you can order them and want to thank our audience for being so attentive and thank you
jessie and ben on a topic that's not going to go away for sure. ♪ ♪ >> weekends on c-span2 are an intellectual feast. every saturday american history tv document america's stories, and on sundays booktv brings you the latest and nonfiction books and authors. funding for c-span2 comes from these television companies and more including mediacom. >> the world changed in an instant but mediacom was ready. internet traffic soared and we never slowed slow down. schools and businesses went virtual and we powered a new reality because at mediacom we are built to keep you ahead. >> mediacom along with these television companies supports c-span2 as a public service. >> next on both evs "after words", patrick radden keefe report o