In a room full of professional scorers for the district’s writing assessment, none of you were surprised to notice that the scorer in the front of the room was late. She was the only one in the group with a young child in the house and she was a single parent. She simply was not always able to get her son to school in time to make the opening session of your quarterly assessment scoring events.
In the past, this woman was not usually shy about sharing the morning antics of getting her son to school. On this occasion, however, she was literally talking to herself and seemed to be completely aware that she was in a room surrounded by other scorers. Her movements seemed erratic, and when she turned your way you were family certain that the left side of her face was swollen, perhaps even bruised.
After another uncomfortable few minutes, the supervisor finally approached the woman and asked her to step outside. Aside from a glancing image of her in the room with district human relations personnel for a few hours that morning, that was the last you ever saw of this woman.
Today, you are still hasted by what appeared to be signs of a woman with a drug addiction problem. It had to be either alcohol or drugs that were affecting her actions that morning. This scoring group still meets to work four times a year, but there has been little discussion about the details behind that morning. The woman with th young son is no longer part of the scoring group and you can only assume that she is not able to substitute teach in the district any more either. Coming to work in a school district when you are impaired by alcohol or drugs carries serious consequences.
Signs of Opioid Abuse Cannot be Hidden Forever
When you think back on the morning six months ago, you also remember the last two conversations that you had with this woman. Never really friends, you were the only other person in the room who was remotely close to her age so you often found yourself in conversation with her. On one occasion the two of you were talking about the delay in payment from a previous scoring event. The money that should have arrived at least two, if not four, weeks ago was still not paid out. In your house where the scoring income is an added bonus for your family budget, you were moldy irritated that paper work had slowed the payment process. This younger mother, however, talked about how she depended on that money to pay her rent. On a previous conversation at lunch, the rest of the room seemed to be unaware of the fact that this young woman was unable to hold a spoon steady while you were all enjoying a soup lunch that had been brought in that particualr day.
In fact, this woman actually asked you to help hold the spoon for her so she could get enough eaten out of the bowl so that she could drink the soup. Always a helper, you were happy to oblige, but you were left with an uncomfortable feeling. Thinking back, you remember a paranoid conversation when this same woman mentioned that her neighbors had accused her of using drugs while her young son was in the apartment. The entire situation was troubling, but it was not until that fateful morning when this person was escorted out of the scoring room that you realize that you had likely been completely unaware of the signs of fentanyl or heroin addiction.
Without regular insurance this woman was likely not someone who had access to many kinds of affordable pain medications and you are curious if that is what may have caused the beginning of her fall. Changes to government regulations and aggressive pharmaceutical company marketing dramatically increased the long term use of oxycodone, fentanyl, and other drugs in the last 25 years for long-term use in patients with chronic pain. Vicodin, fentanyl, and heroin addiction and withdrawal continue to be problems for many people. Fentanyl pills and heroin overdose have become all too common to too many families and entire communities.