In this episode of the Cover2 Podcast, Greg continues his interview with Chico Lewis and Roger Lowe on-site at the Free Clinic Needle Exchange in Cleveland. They discuss the alarming growth of the opioid epidemic, particularly the effect which Chico has seen from the increasing use of fentanyl.
Chico discusses the emotional toll that his work takes on him. He talks about burnout and the fact that he has lost count of the clients he knew personally who have died from overdose. “You go to Baltimore, you can see 12-year-old junkies,” he says. “I cried when I was in Baltimore. It was so sad. We went in this neighborhood with the Needle Exchange Truck. It was a long row of rowhouses, all of them condemned. Soon as that truck pulled up, there was a huge line. There were families living in these houses… that we thought was condemned. They were living in ’em—families! I’m talking about kids and all. It was so sad.”
Chico and Greg also note how the needle inventory has gone down over the course of the day. We hear numerous users come up to the truck, request their materials, and talk to Chico. Chico’s manner is always that of an ally. Overall, Chico gives us a deeper look into the Needle Exchange and everything it does for heroin users in Northeast Ohio.