By Joe Ragonese
President Trump calls it an epidemic, the CDC calls it a growing crisis, the Bureau of Vital Statics states that it is a national emergency that has reduced the average age of Americans, both male and female, due to the number of deaths caused by misuse of opioids.
It affects everyone. Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh was once addicted to OxyContin, when he injured his back and was given a prescription by his doctor. Whether he was warned, or not, about the addictive effects of the pain pills, he became dependent on them, as all abusers of opioids are. It took sheer stamina and a strong will for him to end his addiction; which afterwards he shared with his audience.
Rich, poor, middle class, rural, suburban, and city dwellers, are all falling into the opioid trap. How America fell into its clutches is due to a combination of easy access, moral decay and lax enforcement. Why now, when so much is understood about the dangers of opioids, do new people become addicted daily? The answer is that many become addicted through medical prescriptions for minor pains, as was Rush.
An example of the overuse of opioids can be seen through an incident that this writer went through a few years ago. I had surgery, and in the recovery room woke up attached to a morphine pump. All I had to do was push a button and morphine flowed through my veins. I never pushed the button; however, at the end of the day, the night nurse gave me a morphine pill to ease my pain. I didn’t ask for it, and didn’t realize until the next morning, when I asked what pill had been given to me, that I learned that it was morphine, prescribed by the surgeon.
I had a bad reaction to the drug and never want to be in its power again. This year I ended up in the emergency room with unexplainable pain. It was learned that a cyst had broken internally and caused blood to swell an internal organ. The pain would pass in a day or two when the blood flowed out of me. Until then, the young emergency room doctor offered me OxyContin, a powerful opioid, to ease my pain. Knowing that it was not for me, I took two extra strength Excedrin and the pain went away.
The doctor never thought of any other pain killer than the most powerful one known on earth. The ease of obtaining prescriptions for class 1 narcotics is one of the major causes in today’s opioid epidemic. An underlying cause, especially for the Millennial generation, can be found in their coddling throughout their lives. Young people have been raised to believe that they should suffer no pain, in any way, shape, or form.
It is why they have little league baseball where they don’t have winners and losers, and everyone gets a trophy simply for showing up. God forbid that they suffer mental trauma for having lost. It is why there are safe spaces on college campuses, and why being called a snowflake upsets them. Combine that lack of self-discipline with the ease of obtaining a super powerful opioid to relieve a minor pain, and it is an irresistible combination to abuse the drug.
On top of the coddling, many have been raised in a permissive atmosphere, where they see no problem with lighting up a joint, to the point that one state after another are legalizing the substance. These same Millennials have been raised on movies and television where drug abuse is seen as a norm, and nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, the lack of shame over any deviant behavior is a contributing factor in the abuse of opioids.
The present opioid epidemic is a self-inflicted wound, caused by the moral decay throughout this nation, begun by baby boomers in the 60’s, carried on with their children, Generation X, in the 80s, and now gone into hyper-immorality by Millennials, who simply don’t know any better.
China doesn’t have an opioid epidemic, and neither does Russia. Both nations have recently come out of communist dictatorships that stifled any earthly comfort for the average person, while American children have lived in safe and secure homes, never having to face reality. In fact, only permissive western societies are having this problem; because western society has been mostly safe from the harsh realities of life, thanks to American’s military protecting them.
We don’t see a big problem in this country in Christian, Jewish, or even Muslim homes, only where God has been abandoned and the secular household believes that there is no higher power than themselves. Understanding that there is something greater than yourself goes a long way into resisting the temptations of a drug induced euphoria. The old saying, that in every life a little rain must fall, is true. Snowflakes don’t want to be rained upon and suffer no shame for any of their behaviors to avoid even a single raindrop.
The last part of the equation is that our drug enforcers have been hampered for at least eight years under an Obama administration. While President Trump has made enforcement of drugs an important part of his administration, the influx of illegal and legal drugs under Obama was shameful.
Recent disclosures have shown that O made our drug enforcement agencies stand down under some circumstances, and of course, he, being a man who bragged about his own illegal drug abuse, put a very low priority on enforcement. In fact, he went out of his way to pardon drug czars and cartel members throughout his administration, to a shameful degree during his last month in office.
This became the perfect combination of events, for today’s youth to explore any and all drugs, and of course once opioids enter your system, it is painful to stop. The problem escalates until an entire generation is at risk of killing itself off.
Sadly, it isn’t only immoral snowflakes falling into opioid addiction, as many honorable wounded warriors fall into the opioid trap because morphine is so prevalent in managing the pain of their severe wounds. The same can be said of those who have an automobile accident or other painful malady. We are in a perfect storm leading to opioid addiction, that affects every strata of America.
How bad is the problem? In 2016, 64,070 people died from opioid overdoses. That is a 21% increase from the year prior. That number is 6,000 more deaths in only one year, than the total number of Americans killed during the ten years of the Vietnam War.
That number is higher than the total number of those killed in this country by homicides, (24,703), suicides, (44,193), or traffic accidents, (35,092). Even AIDS didn’t kill that many in its worst year. To say that it is a problem, is an understatement. To say that law enforcement alone can counter the problem is a fantasy.
The only remedy to this problem is returning reality to mainstream America. Our media must stop glamorizing drug abuse, our politicians must stand firmly behind eradication of illegal drugs, and for once we must stand united that there is shame in abusing drugs.