The Opiod Crisis and Economics

Once you’ve had a taste of heaven, nothing on Earth can touch it.”

                       Redd Foxx, Sanford & Son

     1988: When I graduated from eighth grade, there were twelve boys in my class. Three of them, twenty five percent, died drug related deaths. Two of them were barely out to high school when they died. 

     1991: I remember walking home from school in tenth grade. I was walking down Kensington Avenue, which is now one of the worst areas in the country for drug addiction and the fallout that results from it. I was approaching a group of three guys and one of them said to me: “Hey, do you know anyone that wants to buy some Xanax?”. I didn’t. I had a classmate that was continually being offered “free” vials of cocaine by the dealer on the corner of his street. Along that route that I walked home, I witnessed prostitutes, dealers and addicts all just trying to make it through the day. The opioid emergency is nothing new. It’s just worse.

       2017: News reports today indicate that approximately 150 people per day are dying of opioid related overdose. Thats three people per state per day, fifteen people per week. Opioid addiction is now the number one killer of people under fifty.

     I read a book earlier in the year called Dreamland. It describes in great detail the misery, hopelessness and loss of humanity that the opioid epidemic is causing in our country. What often starts as an experimentation then becomes a reason to get up in the morning. We have millions of people in the country that have one goal for their life: get the next high. It’s worth the read to understand both the origins of the problem and the conditions that allow it to perpetuate.

      Experts suggest that most people begin their life of addiction through experimentation with recreational drugs or prescription painkillers prescribed for legitimate means. The feeling of euphoria and relaxation gotten from these medicines becomes so elusive that an individual progresses from one drug to a harder, quicker solution and on and on and on.

     What is the impact on our economy?

     The impact on our economy is broad and unending. The financial drain on society through drug addiction treatment and other methods to deal with the problem is astronomical. Narcan kits, methadone clinics, outreach programs. It’s a black hole of money being spent.

      But what about the destruction of human potential??? I know of three guys that are in their mid twenties and in drug treatment centers. They are all young, strong, handsome, charismatic, intelligent, creative and stubborn individuals. They exemplify the true loss. These are people that can change the world. They can change tomorrow. They can add economically as opposed to taking. Instead, they spend their days battling demons, simply just trying to exist. Trying to make it through another day, sober. They have children that are growing up without fathers. Parents that are broken hearted and helpless to assist them. 

      These three guys are the face of loss through addiction. It’s a loss of hope. A loss of the beauty of tomorrow. Dreams that never will come true.