The numbers are overwhelming as I read them:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is unable to track overdose deaths in real-time. Its published data is one year behind, obscuring the picture of what is happening on the ground in 2022. The agency continues to count the death toll for 2021 — in a provisional tally seven months ago, it calculated the overall number of drug overdoses at 107,622. Two-thirds were due to fentanyl.
When President Richard M. Nixon launched America’s first war on drugs 51 years ago, annual overdose deaths stood at 6,771.
One area of focus in The Washington Post article I was reading was drug enforcement. This leads to all kinds of debates. It’s also a good place to argue over because when you stop drugs, you have something to show. When you don’t stop drugs like fentanyl, unfortunately, you also have something to show as well. It’s an easy mark.
Stop drugs. Stop seeing body bags.
The American fentanyl crisis deepened during the coronavirus pandemic. From 2019 to 2021, fatal overdoses surged 94 percent, and an estimated 196 Americans are now dying each day from the drug — the equivalent of a fully loaded Boeing 757-200 crashing and killing everyone on board.(More HERE)
Every day. 196 people.
We can build a wall on the Mexican border. We can upgrade detection equipment. We can insist on a lot of things in drug enforcement… and it all strikes me as so much hubris. We can stop drugs in one place… and they will seem to find another hole to pop out of. We can stop a certain kind of drug… and another one hits the streets.
196 people a day are dying from one drug.
Addiction is up. THAT is what is driving the market. We are an addicted, broken nation… and we’re thinking that stopping the flow of the supply is going to cure us?
I AM for stopping flow of a drug like fentanyl. I am ALSO for us slowing down and asking… Why are people in this kind of pain that they want this kind of drug that will kill them faster than anything ever invented before?
We want to look at all this as a crime problem. That makes us see people as “offenders.”
What we also need to do (and it’s ALSO, it’s not either/or) is see PEOPLE. Not as offenders. Just… PEOPLE. What is causing the pain in their lives? What is driving them to such horrific solutions?
We are a nation of addicts. Addiction is masking underlying issues. There is massive brokenness all around. We don’t need to arrest the brokenness or cut the supply to the medicating of that brokenness as much as we need to sit WITH the broken and understand what is happening. There is a brokenness to be healed.
I was challenged in this post with the need to LISTEN. We have a massive failure to listen to each other. We want to rush in to “solve” something. We want to “fix” things on the surface. But we aren’t listening.
And we aren’t being heard. When we aren’t being heard, pain has an opportunity to develop.
We can figure out massive ways to stop fentanyl flowing in… and it seems to me that if we aren’t healing our brokenness we will just figure out the next thing that will numb our pain quicker… and kill us quicker along the way.
We are addicted. We are broken. We are in need of healing.