The Opioid Crisis Is Crap
I live in a poverty-stricken former factory town of about 85,000 people. We are, they tell us, in the middle of an "opioid crisis." They tell us this because people in nearby suburbs, white people with a full set of teeth, have begun to overdose. You could buy heroin in my city in the 1950s. We're used to the junkies.
Our state reps are eager to declare an "opioid crisis" because it will mean an ocean of federal money for "education," which will enable their worthless cousin with the social work degree from Second Rate State to get a job with a grant program in the schools.
I'm not so sure.
I'm told by a thousand mouths that the "opioid crisis" is the fault of Big Pharma, which gets people addicted, or doctors, who get people addicted, or the price of heroin, which is cheap, or the purity of heroin, which is excellent. I'm told it's because drugs are "everywhere" in poor neighborhoods. Six months ago, cops busted a heroin house I can see from my kitchen window, so I am not writing this from the lofty perspective often attributed to newspaper columnists. I told you. I live in a poor place.
So, I'll tell you what I do know.
In the course of my life, I've been friends with a number of people who kicked one addiction or another. One of my friends, an alcoholic and amphetamine user, pieced together 10 years sober before the liver he'd outraged for decades stopped working.
Not one of those people ever told me he was a drunk or a junkie because there were liquor stores near his house or bars in his neighborhood or because there was an open bar at his cousin America's wedding reception. Not one has ever told me his doctor was responsible. The only people who tell me those stories are drunks who are still drinking or junkies who are still using.
The people I know who have continued not to drink or use tell me stories that begin with "I."
"I am an alcoholic."
"I am a junkie."
The stories go from "I" to "me," a dismal litany of failure, terror and shame.
But the stories are studded with "I" and "me," flags of pride, a bearing of the burden, a tattered wish to get it the hell over with and face the truth.
Ask the drunks. Ask the junkies. Recovery doesn't work until you say it's "your" problem. Mommy and Daddy out there in the 'burbs may need a reason why their 16-year-old soccer player started spiking up, but the real junkies know that excuses and reasons are crap. Excuses and reasons help you use. They don't help you quit.
As we subtly shift the idea of addiction from being an internal problem to a disease we caught from someone else, the newspaper editorial writers and the state reps. find more reasons to use the word "victim." They are happy.
And it's crap.
To find out more about Marc Munroe Dion and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com. Dion's latest book, "Marc Dion: Vol. I" is a collection of his best 2014 columns and is available for Nook and Kindle.
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