This post is about the opioid crisis, and will be a bit different from most of my posts. One of the news feeds that I monitor published an article on this issue that was a real eye opener for me.
Time Out …
Since what I will express here will be from a perspective that clearly stems from my Worldview, I feel that I should disclose that up front and encourage anyone reading this post to understand that Worldview. The best way to do that is to view the Who I Am page at this web site, perhaps following links within it as necessary to get the full context.
As will also be evident from the Who I Am page, I must admit that I grew up in an environment in which I was never approached by anybody about drugs, and to my knowledge there was no drug trafficking going on in my hometown at that time. I realize I could have just been naive, not knowing what was “really going on,” but I think I was reasonably “connected” and would have been “in the know” had there been such activity.
I made these introductory comments only to say that I have to admit that I don’t fully understand the “opioid crisis,” or for that matter, the “drug problem.” But something about this particular article caused me to back away, rise above the day-to-day detail in the news, and try to get a better fundamental understanding of this issue.
The article I read was Opioid Crisis: Fentanyl deadlier than heroin in the 5/26/18 edition of the [Nashville] Tennessean, which is part of the USA Today network. Here’s the part that caught my attention and prompted me to write this post:
“Death, it turns out, is no deterrent. Asked to explain the severity of the crisis, police and public health officials told the same story in separate interviews: When word gets out that a bad batch of fentanyl has killed a few people, many addicts don’t try to avoid it. They go looking for it. “From what we understand, the addicts want that,” said [a municipal health official who coordinates responses to mass overdoses]. “They want the biggest high they can find. They want to go the brink, and possibly get brought back with Narcan and not tip over that edge. It’s a crazy concept. Two years ago, we thought we were going to come in and say ‘You don’t want this fentanyl stuff. It is deadly, even as small as a grain of sand.’ But that is when they say – ‘Where is it?’”
Stop reading, pause for a moment, and just think about that. There are people who want “the biggest ‘high’ they can find” even if they know that the risk of death in obtaining it is very high. In order to understand that and at least try to put myself in the place of a person with that mindset, I have to try as best as I can to literally take off my “real brain” and “put on the brain” of a person whose background and current situation has put them in that state of mind. That’s not an easy thing to do, but I believe my attempt at it has given me an epiphany of sorts.
Unfortunately, this epiphany has also made me realize that government will never be able to solve this problem regardless of how much money is thrown at it and how many “programs” and “initiatives” are funded with that money. Why? Because the problem is not a result of human activity [drug cartels, the thousands of dealers in their distribution framework, “big Pharma,” or whatever] that laws and regulations can control at least to some degree. It is a problem of the human heart.
There is big money to be made in drugs for exactly the same reason there is big money to be made in smartphones. … or forward-thinking vehicles [more fuel efficiency, better electronics, etc.] … or whatever. That reason is that there is a high demand for it. Among the simplest of basic economic principles is that until supply rises to meet demand, prices [and therefore profits] remain high.
Until we attack this issue at its roots, solutions will continue to elude us. The “tap root” is that as a nation, we have lost too many of the fundamental components of our founding. There are no more absolutes. Everything is relative, so each person has to decide for himself/herself what is true, what is false, what is right, what is wrong, what is good, what is bad. 327 million people trying to do that produces a practically limitless number of “sets of principles and rules.” The result — many people simply cannot handle that complexity.
Some who can’t deal with the complexity affiliate with sects, organizations, political parties, “movements,” etc., if they can find one or more with which they feel they can best identity. Some can’t find such an identity and just want to “escape” and “feel good,” even if they know it’s temporary.
I realize that many current addicts began by taking prescription drugs — prescribed by a doctor — for bonafide health conditions those drugs could treat. One thing led to another, and they ended up finding themselves “hooked” and seeking illicit ways of getting the drugs on a continuing basis.
Although I personally believe that what many addicts are trying to fill is a void inherent in all of us that can be filled only by God, I also realize that assuming that is the answer would still result in “outlier” situations [one of the finest Christian couples I’ve ever known lost a son to drugs in the prime of his life].
So, regardless of how an addict became an addict, getting at the root cause will require gaining a better understanding of why a person would want “the biggest ‘high’ they can find” even if they know that the risk of death in obtaining it is very high.
The Real World
The way our government operates, it is unlikely that this “grass roots” approach will be in the picture. Some more expedient approach will become the most talked about, will gain momentum, and will result in a “program” [and possibly a package of laws and regulations]. It will get funded and proceed into the bureaucratic abyss. Everybody will feel good, there’ll be a flurry of media coverage for a while, and then our leaders will move on to other things. Just as with Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the War On Poverty, etc., some elected official or person running for office will observe in a decade or two that after the billions of dollars spent to date, the problem is no better [and maybe worse] than it was “back in 2018,” make it a “campaign issue,” and … well, you get the picture.
Sorry to sound cynical, but this just seems to me to be a problem that will follow this “solution” track. If only the leaders trying to “get something done” on this were readers of my blog, they’d be able to understand the key I’ve found and avoid all of that — so please pass this on to any of them you know.😊
Thanks for reading this post, and if you regularly follow my Blog, for that, too. Please consider sharing this or other posts with your friends, colleagues and associates.
Charles M. Jones