For the first time this year, American deaths by drug overdose will overtake deaths by car accident. If you loosely add in the suicides per year that can directly be traced to drug use as the primary causation, you enter an era where over 50K people a year are dying this way. No other cause of death not related to old age or cancer (fuck cancer) even comes close.
In one of the mid-sized counties just north of mine, they have a sign on the way to the airport that logs death’s per year specifically from opioids / heroin. It’s over 60 lives already this year. That county is not that big, folks.
When it’s not playing psychotic referee to the sewer that is Washington politics, The Washington Post can actually output some high quality journalism. They’ve run a multi-part series examining this issue in detail. You should read each part, alongside a shorter but similar piece by BBC Magazine.
In many ways, I’m a freedom based lunatic. And so for years I’ve been of the impression that the way to end the drug war is to legalize all drugs. Let folks get high, whatever, tax it, and offer treatment. However, I’m beginning to wonder if the growing drug lethality upends the game on this issue.
Science, reckless doctors, and pill companies have created drugs that are exponentially more powerful than what was available even 15 years ago. Where it was once extremely difficult to get clean once you were hooked, it might now be nearly impossible to recover once you’d trained your brain to accept modern opioids. When you add in the ultra vicious horror story drugs like fentanyl (which apparently is so lethal it can get into your blood if you even touch it), and whatever other death dealing nightmare synthetic drugs science will soon create, it seems we’re at a bit of a crossroads with all of this.
You can probably do a few lines of coke in your day, or smoke hundreds of joints, and come out mostly okay. With this shit, you can literally die on the first hit, or after just a few months find yourself hooked for life without a way out.
When you add this to the already everpresent overmedication of anti-depressants, and whatever other societal ills you can think of, it becomes quite the balance with death. It’s moments like this why I barely care about the presidential election. Nobody has answers for these types of problems that are literally killing tens-of-thousands of Americans a year. Neither political party is interested in proposing deep core type solutions to tackle these problems. Instead, they’re chasing that sound byte. Idiots.
I find more solace in those identified within these articles who are on the street, helping every day. The elderly councilor aiding dozens in addiction classes, the local mayor putting his ass on the line to identify and fight the problem, a young man who lost his friend and now battles to save others. When our national leadership is garbage, and the topic is as dark as this, it’s hopeful to know that folks are still fighting to save others with ferocity and compassion.
Behold the potential cause of America’s downfall.