Erin Baringer has seen a lot in his life. He is a soldier, having served three years in the army with one in Afghanistan. Erin has experienced first hand just how widespread the opiate problem has become in his current employment at Emergency Medical Services where he says the expectation is to see one overdose a week. He shares with us his thoughts on addiction:
It’s ridiculous, it’s insane. You don’t really understand the magnitude, until for me, my awakening was I started working for EMS, it’s like holy shit… Back in the day, everybody thought that this was a poor people problem. This only happened in the cities overdoses and Heroin addicts, crack addicts, this is only something happened in the cities. I think we’re finding out now that it’s not necessarily case. You have aunts and uncles, mothers, and brothers and sisters that are every day, middle class America. Not even just that, celebrities you’re seeing more and more celebrities. Demi Lovato that just happened. I think we’re starting to realize that stigma is going away that it’s everybody’s problem, now, it’s not just these people or those people.
Not only has he experienced the magnitude of the problem first hand, it also has had a personal impact on his life. Erin’s older brother Dean passed away from an overdose in July of 2016. In our discussion he talks about how he remembers Dean and what was most difficult about his passing.
Dean what can i say he’s my older brother, my best friend, and he was smart. But if there’s one thing I remember, he was smart. He was funny, he could make anybody laugh, the life of the party. He kinda have a childhood growing up and his dad wasn’t there for him, my dad stopped in and filled that role.
It’s rough to begin with. You learned to cope with it, though. I mean it was hard, to begin with, because we didn’t have any answers. We were blindsided. There were no indicators whatsoever. He wasn’t doing anything off the wall. There was no needles hanging around, no track marks, nothing. We searched his house afterwards and there was nothing. So I don’t know if it’s maybe that whole industry. It brings with it a crowd that he ended up associating with and maybe it was a one-time thing.
Erin gives his thoughts on why drug use continues to increase at such an alarming rate. In our interview he also goes into his thoughts on how we can better combat the problem.
If I had to venture a guess, the rise and use of prescription narcotics, I’m sure it plays a major role. They’re dishing them out for anything and everything, they’ve gotten a little bit better now. They’re starting to correct it a little bit how they treat pain, chronic pain, and that kind of thing. People get hooked on these Oxycontin, Vicodin, and what have you, and their prescriptions done then they need that feeling again.
We’re talking about pills here, too. To the younger generation, that’s a lot less intimidating than taking a needle and sticking it in your arm you know. We’re talking about kids that are scared of needles and that kind of thing, and their buddy’s got some pills, that’s gonna be a lot more appealing then like I said, sticking a needle into your arm. So that’s had a lot to do with what we’re seeing today.
There is a lot of good in Erin’s life today. He and his girlfriend Allie recently got engaged and the couple are in the process of moving up north to Marquette. A dream of both of theirs for some time. In closing, Erin tells us what he thinks of the OD Movement.
I think you’re doing a great job in making people more aware of what’s going in our community. It’s happening right here in our backyard. So I think this project, you got a good plan here. You’re trying to take profits from your apparel and give them to Narcan that’s really important. There’s one thing I wanna say is that Narcan is not the solution to the epidemic. I think that’s a great first step. But this is a project and with a project you got the ball rolling, you’re bringing people together and we’re floating ideas. And I think that’s probably the most important thing right there is just having a discussion on what can we do, and I think you’re doing a terrific job from what I see.
Note: Erin also was kind enough to contribute a written piece to OD available here.