‘Jesus loves every 1 of U’ – that was the airplane message that circled above on Sunday afternoon as I stood in the middle of Prestwich’s Heaton Park taking in the sights and sounds of this year’s Parklife Festival.
Though I’m not particularly religious now, during my youth I spent many Sundays attending a Southern Baptist church in Florida.
As a professor and drug researcher, the airplane banner oddly reminded me that most of us who are in the educational or healthcare professions endorse the idea that we should use our knowledge, skills and platforms to help keep people safe and healthy, even if they use recreational drugs.
Recently, this perspective hit home like never before.
In the US, my home country, we have seen an increase in the number of drug-related deaths caused by fentanyl-contaminated heroin, to the point where the president declared the opioid crisis a national emergency.
Fentanyl produces a heroin-like high but is considerably more potent, meaning that less of it is required to produce an effect, including fatal overdose.
The UK is headed in a not dissimilar direction.