Using different words doesn’t make a problem go away or get better.
In a crime, we have victims, who sometimes are also complainants (the people reporting the crime), and suspects. If the police are fortunate, there are witnesses. We now have the notorious “person of interest.” Is this an interesting person the police want to hang out with, or is it a polite way of calling the perpetrator a suspect?
Homicides by firearms are now gun violence. When did these guns get so violent?
On social media, someone will make a statement and end it by adding “just saying” in a flaccid attempt to walk back their comment. Either say something or don’t say anything. Please, don’t ease off the accelerator and tap the brakes with “just saying.”
Feelings have usurped personal responsibility. However, facts will eventually dethrone feelings.
We used to have a heroin problem; not anymore. Now we have an “opioid crisis” that kills more than 50,000 people a year.
The violent surge in heroin and fentanyl use has become a national security issue.
Some elected officials and media would have you believe this opioid crisis is primarily due to physicians overprescribing pain medications and, secondly, patients abusing their medications. They are confusing, either willfully or naively, legal opioids with illegal opioids.
Some patients may sell their opioid medications on the black market and abuse the amount they keep for themselves. However, it is difficult nowadays to lawfully obtain prescription opioids.
Patients requiring continuous pain medication are being treated at pain medication clinics, where they are seen by a physician or physician’s assistant every month. Patients only receive a 30-day prescription for their opioid medication.
They are required to take random drug tests (to ensure they are taking their prescribed dosages) and are provided alternate means to relieve their chronic pain.
These patients are not the ones overdosing.
The majority of opioid overdoses are due to heroin and fentanyl. Fentanyl, a synthetic form of morphine, is at least 50 times more potent than heroin and is being smuggled in from Mexico in unprecedented quantities. It is deadly. Two milligrams of fentanyl can be fatal.
Statistically, addiction touches almost every American household, even in clean, green Boulder City.
Those who have been affected will testify that an addict, if left unchecked and enabled by friends and family, will eventually suck the life, and money, out of everyone with increasing frequency and greater proximities. Injecting heroin or, worse, fentanyl is committing suicide on the installment plan, and there is no payoff date in sight.
The government’s solution to marijuana was to legalize it.
The governmental solution to the “opioid crisis” is to punish older people in chronic pain who are not addicts. An addict who downs 80 mg of OxyContin like candy is not the same as someone taking 10 milligrams of hydrocodone two or three times a day with monthly doctor appointments. The low-dosage patients suffer, while the addicts obtain cheap heroin.
The enablers have convinced the politicians that the addicts in their families are the same as the low-dosage chronic pain patients, and that a medical doctor with 12 years of post-secondary education and training cannot diagnose the difference. Hence, the recent legislative attempts to regulate pain via fiat instead of via physician.
To those who claim that opioid addiction is a disease (another example of using a different, softer word to describe bad behavior), I challenge them to visit the cancer ward of a children’s hospital to comprehend the real definition of disease.
I don’t know what the ultimate solution is, but it seems that with every issue the government finds low-hanging fruit and punishes the law-abiding demographic. Perhaps we should ostracize all addicts, and their enablers, and medically treat those who desire help. The death penalty for heroin and fentanyl wholesalers should be debated.
A part of the solution is not sugarcoating the problem with designer-label feel-good terms.
Dan Jennings is a 38-year law enforcement veteran. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.