Life & Island Times: America’s New Silence is Death Epidemic


A terse emailed note from a friend announced another of his children’s close high school friends was found dead of a heroin overdose. That brought the total in his child’s small midwestern town high school class to six in twenty three years.

The details were heartbreaking in their recitation, but there was a leaden sameness to other tales I have heard for more than a decade . . .

Child of hard working, small business owners whose business got killed by the arrival of Wal-Mart and Home Depot
Child injured back at a distant foundry; put on opioid pain medication, just like most of the others; perscription ran out; bought on the street
Busted for possession of a controlled drug; lost job after brief prison sentence served; heroin/fentayl followed; dead.
Left behind two kids and an ex

I recall twenty eight years ago when after a serious ortho injury surgery I had a morphine pump for two days and then left the Bethesda Naval Hospital with over a 120 powerful Percocets. When I stopped taking them four days later. I definitely felt the draw.

Here is some added context to this ongoing American opioid tragedy:

makes pain tolerable when damage occurs during work or exercise sessions
assumption that not experiencing any euphoric or addictive feelings others succumbed to gives you a a pass
unwillingness to adjust an active life to something that does not require opioids
the majority of people who are dependent on them don’t get high, they just experience pain that if you aren’t opioid sensitized wouldn’t bother you
these tragedies are happening at every economic, social, and educational strata of our society
one bad decision during one’s early teens can often permanently ruin, if not end, a child’s life
“No First Time” school programs help but still do not stop this rising black tide
the parallels with America’s callous inaction to the AIDS epidemic 30+ years ago are striking
opioid addicts relapse at a very high rate — 75% or more
this problem is becoming less a prescription narcotic issue and more of a direct to heroin/fentanyl problem
the one thing that seems to work well in many cases is to switch out the opioid for another drug

My take-aways:
60,000 Americans are dying every year from opioid overdoses – more than the Vietnam war death total every damn year
these numbers are rising every year
prison is not rehab
prescribing medicinal marijuana derivatives might keep/ween people off opioids
we need many tens of billions of dollars annually to support medication assisted replacement therapy programs nationwide
I simply refuse to take opioids after injury or surgery other than the first 24-48 hours after the event
This tragedy is not just select individuals here and there falling through the cracks or left behind in our society. It is an outright willful epidemic, inflicted upon America’s citizens by big pharma, the payors, pharmacies, doctors and the arm-waving, blathering, do-nothing politicans who have all turned a blind eye to this rightfully described carnage.

When will they act? After a million American deaths? That benchmark will come as early as 2020 by some calculations. That way America would match the death totals of the Cambodia and Rwanda genocide campaigns. Nice company for America to be in, eh?

As with AIDS in the 1980s, silence is death with this epidemic. So, why doesn’t the American national media talk about this nonstop until we act? They must have other more important issues to kerflufflle over.

This deserves more attention than just about any other issue in our country right now. A society strung out is not destined to remain great at much. This is a stealthy, modern day Opium War that Americans are losing.

Copyright © 2018 From My Isle Seat

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