The painstaking list of casualties being swallowed up and spit out by the opioid epidemic is long, and growing.
The list begins with the once star athlete prescribed Vicodin for his high school football injuries. His Vicodin fix turned prescription painkiller addiction has morphed him into a slave to heroin.
His high school sweetheart turned wife also falls victim as she’s having a harder time caring for her drug-addicted husband than their young children.
It’s the doctor whose intentions where wholesome prescribing pain medication to a seemingly levelheaded athlete who’s practice is now labeled a pill mill.
It’s the EMT who’s already short staffed and overworked going on countless opioid overdose calls… per night. Sometimes equipped with the lifesaving opioid reversal narcotic, and sometimes not due to funding and availability.
It’s the hospital workers who are already tired, overworked and badgered by patients who have to administer yet another dose of Narcan to an addict who cares less about his or her own life than they do.
It’s the court system who means well by upholding strict punitive standards, but instead of being able to help addicts get into treatment, they make it more difficult for people to get their life back on track.
It’s the Drug Enforcement Administration officials who have an important and tireless job to perform, but are many times handcuffed by the ineptness of their own judicial system.
It’s the federal administration, this one and the ones preceding, who desire to do more, but most of the time turn up on the losing side of the drug war. Take Ronald Reagan’s signing of the 1986 Anti-Drug Abuse Act that promised to help users and punish dealers, but instead turned America into the world’s leading jailer.
It’s the cemeteries being filled. The lives lost. The hearts broken. The families shattered. It’s the nation who stands in mourning with little hope of fixing the health crisis of modern day.
In the article, Ganeva quotes Art Way, a senior director at the Drug Policy Alliance: “All we know how to do is to be punitive. We should be getting people treatment, without having them going into the criminal justice system.”
Through her hoards of research and thesis-level writing, Ganeva concludes that “a more sustainable strategy would also include easy access to medicines like Suboxone, supervised injection facilities, and public education campaigns and treatment programs not based entirely on abstinence.”
And when you get around to it, read Ganeva’s masterful presentation of journalism. It will open your eyes, and may even open up your heart.