Mata’s bathroom is located in an infirmary called the Corner Project, which is a syringe exchange program that began operating in the New York neighborhood of Washington Heights. Someone checks on the intercom in the bathroom every three minutes to make sure the user is still conscious. If the user doesn’t respond, Mata or someone similarly trained, will press a button to unlock the door and rush in, armed with a syringe full of naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan, and hopefully reverse the effects of the opioid drugs. So far, there have been 25 overdoses in the bathroom, but each live has been saved thanks to Mata, his staff, and Narcan.
Some belief that his staff could just close the bathroom to public use, or search the people trying to use the facility, but they chose to do nether. In this case, is that a good or bad thing?
It’s a good thing. Mata knows that if they turn away people who are going to use their facility for drug use then they will find somewhere else to go. Mata likes to know that the people coming are safe, and so far, Narcan has been successful when it’s been used to treat overdoses.
We find ourselves in the middle of an opioid epidemic that is the worst drug crisis in American history. It is a self-inflicted wound and one that is predominantly made in America, as we consume more than 80% of the world’s supply of opioid pain pills, even though we are less than 5% of the world’s population. Many of those prescriptions have led to heroin use; three out of four new heroin users started with prescription narcotics.