John Oliver took a deep dive into harm-reduction strategies to prevent overdose deaths among drug users and why so many parts of the nation haven’t embraced them.
It’s partly due to myths and misconceptions about both drugs and drug users, including the belief that even being near fentanyl is dangerous for police and other first responders.
On Sunday’s “Last Week Tonight,” Oliver played footage of a San Diego deputy supposedly passing out after finding the drug in a car, along with a sheriff’s department voiceover claiming he “nearly died” as a result.
“The idea that that officer could’ve been passively exposed to fentanyl and then overdose is completely absurd,” Oliver said, pointing out that experts say it’s virtually impossible for it to have that effect.
Oliver said police departments across the country have made similar claims.
“What those officers were much more likely experiencing were panic attacks,” Oliver said. “Which makes sense, because they’d just been exposed to something they’ve repeatedly heard is deadly to be anywhere near.”
It’s even become a trope in TV shows, including the hit CBS cop program “Blue Bloods.”
“That is complete horse shit,” Oliver declared.
“It is deeply irresponsible of police to keep perpetuating a medical impossibility and for media outlets to keep amplifying it,” he added.
Doing so will cause people to fear helping those in need, he pointed out. And they will oppose other measures, including harm-reduction strategies.
Watch the full segment on “Last Week Tonight” here:
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