The US is involved in a deadly conflict.
As I write this article on the anniversary of the U.S. involvement in WWII, I can’t help but recognize that our country is in the midst of another and perhaps equally deadly war. We are in an internal conflict that has, in an 18-year span, killed more Americans than those who lost their lives in that not-so-distant war.
Most people refer to the war I’m talking about as an epidemic. An epidemic is an illness. I’m suggesting that it is the Opioid War not merely a crisis or an epidemic.
Past And Current War Figures
Over 405,000 heroic Americans gave their lives in WWII. In the past 18 years almost twice as many Americans have lost their lives in a war the majority of them did not know they were entering. A war started by pharmaceutical companies and cultivated by our medical industry. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Drug overdose deaths continue to increase in the United States. From 1999 to 2017, more than 702,000 people have died from a drug overdose. In 2017, more than 70,000 people died from drug overdoses, making it a leading cause of injury-related death in the United States. Of those deaths, almost 68% involved a prescription or illicit opioid.”
External Wars Easier Than Internal Wars
Addiction is nothing new. It’s as old as civilization. And fighting the distribution of illegal drugs in the U.S. is nothing new. We have fought South American drug lords and Mexican Drug Cartels. We even had a real live shoot out that started the Miami Drug War in a Dade county mall in 1979. Those wars were waged between people from other countries to protect the citizens of our country. But, we’ve never had to fight such an intense and powerful, money motivated American drug lord.
Addiction Is Not A Moral Weakness
With addiction being woven into the human condition, it helps to look a little more closely at it since it is now so common. According to an opinion piece at thehill.com by Mitchell S. Rosenthal, M.D. the founder and president of the Rosenthal Center for Addiction Studies, “Addiction is an unexpected trap. It often begins innocently enough—with prescription painkillers after a back operation, perhaps, or a line of coke snorted for fun at a party. External factors – poverty and social misery, personal hardships and peer pressure to conform – can influence the desire to experiment with powerful, mind-altering and physically harmful substances. Nobody is immune, as we have seen the opioid crisis ensnare young and old, rich and poor, urban and rural residents and people of all races and ethnicities.”
Dr. Rosenthal, who has more than 50 years of experience treating substance abuse says, “What I know is that addiction is not a moral failing.” This is a point that in my opinion needs to be repeated continuously. Dr. Rosenthal explains the addiction process, “It happens when the morphine molecule—the essential component of all opiates—or other drug initiates a chemical process that rewires the neural networks in the brain and renders the user a partial captive of the drug.” This makes it clear that anyone is susceptible to becoming addicted to highly addictive opioids. He goes on to add, “We have the tools and resources – through education, prevention, law enforcement, and most importantly treatment – and the awareness to help those with substance-abuse disorder. But in order to be successful we must commit to a coherent, compassionate and well-funded national anti-drug strategy on a scale equivalent to the enormity of the drug problem itself.”
Politicians Motivated To Keep The War Waging
So far the enormity of the problem has not outgrown the profit potential. With individual companies within the pharmaceutical industry spending millions ($194.3 million as of 10/24/2018) lobbying to influence politicians to favor their industries, it’s easy to see that we are in a war between greed and good will. There really doesn’t seem to be any doubt at the moment about who’s going to win. Clearly, greed is winning out over the true care of our citizens.
While there may be little to be cheerful about this holiday season for hundreds of thousands of American families who have already been devastated and likely destroyed by this war at the very least we can wish these families some momentary peace and good will.
Thoughts Of Peace And Kindness
Even though for many this holiday season there will be sorrow and dismay I pray that they will find a quiet moment to reflect on the sanctity of life. Let’s all find that quiet moment this holiday season and pray for all those who suffer. Sometimes good thoughts for those who you don’t know helps those who need it the most. Be kind to one another and yourself.