Family members of the Philadelphia man, who died in his jail cell apparently from drug withdrawal on the eve of Halloween, are planning to sue the city for failing to take action to avert the death of the heroin user. According to media reports, Ed Zaleski was out on bail when police picked him up for theft and took him to the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility. A few hours later, Zaleski, 53, was found dead in his cell. The cause of his death is still unknown and the toxicology reports are awaited.
Holly, a former girlfriend of Zaleski, said that he did not have any chronic medical conditions and was not even on any medication. She has hired an attorney and plans to sue the city of Philadelphia and the prison health care contractor, Corizon Health, for the “wrongful” death. According to Holly’s attorney, Zaleski’s legal obligation of being provided with immediate medical care was not tended to by the authorities, in spite of the fact that he had informed them that he was experiencing withdrawal symptoms as he had “done four bags of heroin” just before his arrest.
It all started with a prescription for Percocet when Zaleski, a father of four children, was in his 20s and for three decades, a major part of his life was spent in a relationship with addiction. His constant relapses would compel him to commit crimes. However, when sober, he would spend time mentoring other people with addiction who were keen on sobriety.
Bruce Herdman, chief of medical operations at the Philadelphia prison system, said that instead of a drug test being conducted on the inmates at the facility, they are simply asked about their drug use and medical history. The lack of proper procedures for inmates with opioid addiction points to one thing that Zaleski should have been marked for observation or taken to the hospital, Herdman said.
Opioid addiction crisis
The opioid crisis does not seem to be abating. There is a substantial number of inmates in national prisons grappling with addiction-related issues. For instance, amongst about 28,000 prisoners who served time in the six prisons of Philadelphia in 2017, at least three-quarters reported a history of substance abuse. Many corrections authorities have been forced to provide improvisations in their screening, treatment and prevention efforts.
With the ever increasing menace of drug abuse, families are concerned about the health of the ones they love. It may start with a safe prescription opioid painkiller and can lead to the use of illegal drugs like heroin, which are commonly abused. Opioids bind to the areas of the brain that control pain and emotions, increasing the level of dopamine and creating an intense feeling of euphoria. However, addiction to harmful opioids can be treated with timely medical interventions. If a person is grappling with opioid use disorder, he/she should immediately seek professional assistance from a reputed rehab center.
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