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Sunday, November 13, 2016
"Opioid and Heroin Use in White, Middle-Class USA"
opioid and heroin use in white, middle-class usa
As my own recounting of “pain,” after knee surgery in 2014 reveals there is sometimes good reason for pain killers such as OxyContin and other powerful drugs. And most Americans, some doctors have indicated, have a difficult time with such pain, particularly long-term back pain and serious bouts with arthritis—pains which I endured for many years before the surgery. Today I still have a daily stiff knee, although, strangely, my left knee—where the bones are still literally rubbing against one another—no longer hurts. I also have a strong aversion to drugs, so, as I reported, I insisted that I receive less powerful painkillers immediately after the first week, despite my continued suffering.
Thank heaven! For in the years since, it has increasingly become clear that millions of Americans—particularly in the rural areas of New Hampshire, West Virginia, Ohio and Michigan, as well as in parts of California and elsewhere, are now addicted to such pain-killers, and, unable to afford the high costs of their addictions, have turned to slightly cheaper drugs such as heroin.
Even during my operation word had begun spreading about such problems. But in 2016 and into 2017, it became even clearer that the US was suffering a kind of mass epidemic of serious addictions.
On August 19, 2016 the small city of Huntington, West Virginia, according to the Los Angeles Times endured 26 overdoses in just a few hours, sending the small police force and emergency servers in chaos. At one location, police arrived to one house where they found seven people passed out, 4 within the house, and 3 outside. Throughout Cabell County, in which Huntington is located, police report that they see from 18 to 20 cases of overdosed people each week.
Earlier in the year Sacramento, California saw 11 deaths from opiate mixes in one short period. New Hampshire has one of the nation’s highest number of people addicted to opioids, resulting in a suit from that state against OxyContin’s maker, Purdue Pharma.
The New York Times reported that on September 18, 2016 in Lawrence, Massachusetts, that in a local Family Dollar store, police discovered an unconscious woman lying on the floor from a drug overdose, while her 2-year old daughter lay next to her, attempting to tug her mother into consciousness. The local police force commented that at about 10% of the drug calls they receive, children are present. There has been a 7.62% increase in child neglect investigations in that area in 2016 alone.
According to the Associated Press, there were 3,050 people who overdosed during the year, most from powerful painkiller fentanyl. And on September 15th, in the Western part of that state, a couple was found parked on the street, passed out from a heroin overdose, with a toddler in the back seat. The 8-year old boy who discovered them went running off to his parents living nearby, screaming for them to come help. The pictures that were taken of this event have become something close to poster statements of the serious of what is happening throughout the US.
Similar problems have been discovered among the homeless in Los Angeles who, unable to afford even marijuana are consuming a cheaper, man-made drug called “spice,” which is often sprayed with chemicals that cause deadly results. In LA’s skid row, 38 people had to be transferred hospitals in one August Friday after consuming a batch. And the very next Monday 14 others were found with similar symptoms. The Los Angeles City Council has now requested an ordinance to ban the substance, which can also kill. Perhaps the recent legalization of marijuana, at least in this particular case, will help with the problem.
But the above reports represent just a few of the numerous stories that reveal that we are slowly turning into a kind nation of zombies, formerly hard-working men and women who, facing pain and aging becoming hooked on devastatingly power drugs, often by over-prescribing doctors and clinics. If job-loss can account for much of the private suffering faced by so many individuals in the poor areas of the country such as upstate New England and the midland’s rust-belt—areas where, incidentally, Donald Trump did very well in the election—drugs has clearly contributed to our cumulative pain instead of relieving it.
To say something needs to be done is an understatement, as thousands of our citizens are everyday are succumbing to a fate that can only lead to their early deaths and the destruction of their families.
Los Angeles, January 21, 2017