Today was a wonderful day at the pharmacy, as a whole. It went smoothly, and people were in a good mood. It made the day pass quickly and made me smile. As usual, there was one story that stuck out in my mind.
The picture above is an example of a syringe that is normally used for insulin injections. We usually only sell them as prescriptions for diabetic patients. But, in some states (like mine), they are available for sale without a prescription. We see people come in and get insulin and syringes for their dogs every now and then, but most of the time, we don’t know the exact reason for the purchase of a pack of syringes. Many times, we assume it is because they are using them for injection of illicit drugs like heroin or methamphetamine. The focus of allowing the sale of needles without a prescription is to provide clean needles in order to prevent the transmission of infections like HIV and Hepatitis C.
Well, in walks a man asking for a pack of syringes. When the technician ringing him out him asked what size he was looking for, the man answered back he didn’t know. My tech tried to explain that we couldn’t sell any if he didn’t know what he was looking for, and the man started to become angry. I decided to intervene and diffuse the situation. Upon my coming over, the man blurts out that his brother is a junkie that has attempted to sober up and has relapsed several times. He told me his family doesn’t give him any money to fund his addiction, but they do come into the pharmacy with his money to buy needles for him. They don’t want him to contract anything from needle sharing, which I cannot say I blame them for.
After some more history of his brother’s struggle with addiction, I was able to help figure out what type of syringes the man had been sent to obtain. I suggested a program that handles needles for people openly struggling with addiction to him, but he said his brother is currently refusing to try any programs. I then told him to keep lines of communication open with his brother and always try to talk to him about coming clean because he may reach a point where he wants to try to sober up again and will need a support network. The man nodded, purchased the syringes, and left.
I felt awful for that family after talking to him. Not only does addiction ruin the lives of the ones who are addicted, but they ruin the family ties and friendships of the addicted person as well. It was heartbreaking to hear that the man had tried and failed multiple times to sober up and stay clean. Normally, we only see the people we assume are addicted coming into the pharmacy for syringes. They tend to act nervous and appear physically worn down. This was the first time I had seen a family member of an addicted person come in for them. What a different perspective it gave me.