Let me say, right at the outset, that I have sympathy for drug addicts. I’ve been addicted myself (to cigarettes) and it was a very long, difficult path to wean myself off them. (I owe that to my wife, who gave me an ultimatum – cigarettes, or her. I made the right choice!) Even now, more than a decade after I stopped smoking, I can still feel craving for a cigarette from time to time.
Nevertheless, addiction is in the end an option we choose for ourselves. It’s all very well to say that our environment, or peer pressure, or poverty, or “the system”, or whatever, makes us more vulnerable to it: but when push comes to shove, we as individuals make a decision to use addictive substances. There’s no getting around that and no evading that responsibility, no matter how much politically correct educators, advisers, politicians and community activists might like to think there is.
That’s why so many anti-drug efforts fail. They ignore personal responsibility and try to give us any number of excuses. “It’s not your fault that you fell – it was this, or that, or the other, that made you fall. You never had a chance!” There are elements of truth in that, yes . . . but it’s always, in the end, our own choice, no matter how conditioned that choice might be.
That’s why, when I read articles like this, I get angry. I look in vain for any acknowledgement that the risks described boil down to individuals who choose to expose themselves to those risks.
Forensic analysts have identified a new and highly potent family of synthetic opioids in [Washington D.C.’s] illicit drug supply, a worrisome discovery in a city already struggling with a wave of fatal overdoses that shows no signs of abating.
The opioids, found on used syringes examined by scientists at the D.C. Department of Forensic Sciences in September and October, are called protonitazene and isotonitazene, respectively. Experts estimate that each is at least several times more powerful than fentanyl, the synthetic opioid that has displaced heroin in many parts of the United States and is now responsible for the majority of the country’s drug overdoses, including those in the nation’s capital.
. . .
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data released this month show that the District saw an estimated 498 fatal overdoses over 12 months during the coronavirus pandemic — an extraordinary figure that eclipses the city’s notably high homicide toll and is larger than the number of drug deaths in 13 states.
. . .
Alex Krotulski, associate director at the Center for Forensic Science Research and Education in Willow Grove, Pa., said … there are no signs that the drugs are on the verge of displacing fentanyl, which is a primary commodity in the international drug trade. But he said the nitazenes’ emergence is a reminder that even if the flow of fentanyl into the country is stanched, other opioids could take its place.
Fatal overdoses have soared across the country, driven by the omnipresence of fentanyl and exacerbated by the stressors of the pandemic, including shutdowns that affected many people’s jobs and isolated drug users from support systems.
There’s more at the link.
I’m sorry, but let’s face facts. The only reason those new and more dangerous drugs are showing up is because there’s a market for them. If there were no market, no demand, no customers, they wouldn’t be there. Criminals and drug smugglers would turn to something more in demand, where they could be more sure of making a return on their investment. Eliminate the demand, and you’ll go a long way towards eliminating the supply. It really is that simple.
Sadly, that’s the one truth you almost never hear from the “support structures” and community activists and others involved in this crisis. They spend millions upon millions of dollars on palliatives – needle exchange programs, decriminalizing drug use, buying and distributing doses of naloxone to bring overdosed individuals back from the brink of death, and so on – but none of these palliatives do anything to reduce the scale of the problem. Rather, they serve as camouflage for the scale and intensity of the crisis. “Look, we’re doing something! We’re saving lives!” cry the activists – but more and more lives go on being ruined by their addiction every year, because they do nothing to stop new users from becoming addicted.
As a pastor and prison chaplain, I saw the horrendous scale of this problem. It’s existed for decades, but has grown much worse in recent years. I don’t know why that is, except to attribute it to the breakdown of the nuclear family and the disintegration of traditional social values and cultural norms. One can’t help but note that in communities where such values and norms are observed, there are demonstrably fewer cases of addiction.
Certainly, the so-called “War on Drugs” has been a dismal failure. After 50 years, and spending over a trillion dollars on it, isn’t it time we admitted that everything we’ve tried so far hasn’t worked? In that case, why are we still paying for it? I know of cases where hard-core addicts have overdosed twice or three times in one day, only to be “bailed out” every time by a cop or ambulance worker administering a dose of naloxone and bringing them back from the brink of death. They actually rely on being “rescued” like that. They’ve told me as much. I knew one addict who’d been “brought back” more than fifty times. Eventually, inevitably, he overdosed in a location where he wasn’t found until after it was too late. I’m very sorry he died, and very sorry for his addiction, but it was his choice and his fault. Sorrow won’t change that – and it shouldn’t. He had the right to choose his way, and he did; and all the programs and policies and assistance in the world didn’t stop him.
We’ve got to stop throwing good money after bad, and abandon the programs that have done nothing to slow down or reduce the drug addiction problem. If people choose to use illicit narcotics, they must be left to experience the inevitable consequences of their choice, and those in the communities around them must be allowed to witness those consequences. I see no other way of stopping potential addicts except by “scaring them straight”, letting them see what will happen to them if they go down that road.
Heartless? Uncaring? Unfeeling? Some will say so, but I honestly can’t see any other way of making progress. Remember the old saying, often attributed to Albert Einstein: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results”. That’s what we’re doing right now to our drug addiction problem – and the result is as insane as can be expected. Isn’t it time we got off that treadmill, and let nature take its course? Is there any other cure? We don’t need more “safe havens for addicts” – we need the kind of tough love that says, “If you choose to go down that road, we aren’t going to smooth and pave and widen and subsidize it for you”.
What about those who’ve made a living (often a very handsome one) out of government subsidies for their roles in the “War on Drugs”? They seem to spend their entire working lives at our expense in jobs that seem to produce more failures every year, but are nevertheless generously subsidized by the taxpayer. Maybe it’s time we told them to earn a living in some other, non-subsidized job. What say you, readers?