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August 9, 2017

An Addict’s Response to Trump’s War on Drugs.

President Trump, at the behest of his commission on the opioid crisis, fails to declare a state of emergency over the current opiate epidemic facing America.

In light of this, I feel a sharp pang in my heart for those who will surely continue suffer and die under the opiod epidemic we are facing on a grand scale.

For all the families who will be torn apart, I feel a twinge of anger at our commander in chief for his failure to act for the good of all Americans, for the children who will grow up parentless, and for the parents who will lose their children.

In case you aren’t familiar with this issue, the crisis isn’t just about street drugs. As ASAM says in their latest study, “Opioids are a class of drugs that include the illicit drug heroin, as well as the licit prescription pain relievers oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, fentanyl, and others.”

As someone who has survived and recovered from severe opioid addiction, I have strong opinions on this topic. In the hopes of spreading awareness and compassion surrounding an issue so often stigmatized, I will share with anyone who wants to have a mindful discussion on the matter.

Mr. Trump: you’re making a massive mistake.

We don’t need more law and order. Let’s ask Nancy Reagan how that last campaign worked out for us. Shoot—I was a child of the 80s growing up with D.A.R.E., “Just Say No,” and the “This is your brain on drugs” campaigns.

Guess what? They didn’t work.

Neither did any of the arrests, detainments, crackdowns, task forces, sting operations, narcs, D.T.s, or D.E.A. busts I witnessed or was a part of during my time on the streets of Newark, NJ as a 20-year-old heroin junkie. Once again, I will say that law and order is not the answer to this problem.

The craziest part is that we thought the opioid problem was bad on the East Coast back in the late 90s and the turn of the century when I ended up strung out. Today’s numbers, however, make that time look like Candyland.

Opioid overdose is now the leading cause of death in Americans under the age of 50. And much of that comes from legal prescription medication addictions—not street drugs. The number of overdoses from prescription medications is nearly double the number of overdoses from heroin.

Not terrorism.

Not texting while driving.

Not school shootings.

Overdose. So much for “Just Say No,” huh?

How is it that our “elected officials” cannot see that their policies don’t work?

“Let’s just build a wall for that too.”

Oh wait—I’m pretty sure there is a fence along most of the Mexican-American border that hasn’t yet stopped the drugs coming in.

Besides, how do we stop the drugs coming in when the pharmaceutical industry is the biggest kingpin in the country? “Big Pharma” had a hand in creating this epidemic, but now that they have medications to help opioid addicts (Suboxone, Subutex, Naloxone), they’re skyrocketing the prices!

Here’s a recap: American pharmaceutical companies go crazy for opioid medications. They promote these medications, which are essentially synthetic versions of heroin, to doctors who just want to alleviate the pain of their patients who are suffering. Doctors start prescribing and boomwe have a massively addicted population.

That’s the thing about opiate-based medications—they turn even non-addictive people into physical addicts. People who never would have ended up strung out are getting hooked on their legal medications.

What’s happening is officials are cracking down and making it harder and harder for people to keep getting their meds prescribed. These people then turn to the streets because they come to learn that (for a much cheaper price) they can get a bag of heroin that does a much better job than the massive amounts of pills they were consuming before.

Quick note—none of this is the problem!

This epidemic is simply a symptom of a much deeper American problem—one of disconnection.

A drug addict serves as a mirror to society, and that’s exactly why society cannot accept an addict and instead ostracizes them. Society can’t bear to look in the face of its own shadow reflection—one we would rather deny exists.

We’re all damaged. We’re all wounded in some way. We all have trauma and scars of the past. We all have negative aspects and positive aspects, and it’s only in denying them that we cause ourselves suffering. In trying to repress and deny, we do nothing but give these very aspects more power over us.

The epidemic we are watching unfold bears a strong testament to this.

Addiction is a severely misunderstood and stigmatized problem. The people around addicts are unable to understand why we choose a cycle of destruction over and over again, and they often take it quite personally when we cannot stop. People are so personally offended by an addict’s life choices, but at once they don’t understand it. This lack of understanding which manifests as harsh and intolerant judgment.

It’s not a choice. It just happens. Before we even realize what’s occurring. Then, once we’ve realized, it’s too late. We’re off the deep end. The vicious cycle is fed over and over.

Locking people up doesn’t treat the root problem. Ostracizing them doesn’t help. Trying to block drugs coming in won’t help either. It will just increase the street prices, which will then cause a spike in crime.

Relephant:

Preventing Overdose: A Visual of Lethal Doses of Commonly Abused Substances.

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Author: Lindsey Carricarte
Image: Youtube still
Editor: Danielle Beutell
Copy Editor: Callie Rushton
Social Editor: Taia Butler

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Tim Dibble Aug 11, 2017 11:35pm

Opium has been a social issue since poppy was found. The problem isn't the drug-it is reality. Too many people can't deal with reality. As George Carlin observed-since Mankind emerged from the primordial soup he looked around and said "this can't be IT!" And he's been trying to get high ever since! One thing history shows us is that every "War" on something our government undertakes just gives us more of the something. War on poverty-more poverty. War on drugs-more drugs. War on terror-more terror. Maybe reclassifying it as a Crisis sounds good-but I'm afraid the results/outcome will be the same

Lana Gonzalez Balyk Aug 10, 2017 10:58pm

This article actually just came out today, hopefully it will be a step in the right direction. This quote is from it: "The number of deaths from the drugs - prescribed to a third of Americans in 2015 - has quadrupled in 20 years" http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-40891691

Colleen Tommins Leard Aug 10, 2017 3:56pm

So then in your opinion, what IS the answer? Or direction we should be going in to start to fix this ..

Eric Thiessen Aug 10, 2017 3:32pm

No, no, no...the 2015 statistics you cite are incorrect (because they specifically exclude any heroin overdoses involving the synthetic opioid fentanyl) and currently in 2017 there are 3 x as many heroin overdoses as overdoses from precription opioids - almost all caused by the addition of fentanyl (that comes mostly from China) to it. There are entire medical practices with dozens of doctors and thousands of patients that will not prescribe any opioids period, leaving legitimate pain sufferers to have to find a doctor willing to deal with the endless layers of well meaning but useless bureaucratic bs in order to receive any pain relief at all...meanwhile heroin is 3x cheaper than oxys are on the street.

Lana Gonzalez Balyk Aug 10, 2017 1:40am

Thanks for writing this. This is a hugely important issue that impacts people all throughout our society, and few policy makers seem to be taking steps to acknowledge the roots of this problem.

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Lindsay Carricarte

Lindsay Carricarte-Jones can currently be found residing in Long Beach, CA, with her husband Chris and their fur-babies. They practice and learn from each other every day. Her heart beats for writing, Buddhism, yoga, meditation, books, helping the world, nature, snowboarding, coffee, hiking, and of course her loves— Chris, and their two dogs, Bandit, a American Bulldog/Pitbull rescue, and Luna, a Welsh Corgi.

Their goal is to travel the world helping others heal through yoga, meditation, crystal healing, and coaching. She currently runs Life Warrior – The Art of Being Human with Chris, where they help others heal through spiritual coaching and teaching. Connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for more information.

You can also catch up with Lindsay and learn more about her healing practices on her coaching/motivational website or visit her motivational page on facebook for daily heart path coaching and a does of happiness.