Opiate Abuse: A Choice, Not A Disease

 

PICTURE ABOVE: Pictured above is a deadly amount of pure heroin vs a deadly amount of Fentanyl.  Now you can see why so many people are dying from it!

I am a recovering drug addict.  Every once in a while I’ll read an article in the paper about the “opiate epidemic” and how to stop it.  Let’s do this the best way I know how, the Compliment Sandwich!

The Praise: It is to my relief that this problem afflicting the entire country is finally getting some positive exposure showing the addicts and the families that care about them, that there is action being taken to HELP the problem as opposed to the front page headlines showing the Task Force and how they made another “historic” drug bust.  I will get more into the latter issue later.  I want to thank Mr. Kelly for being so involved and being the key official to bring this matter to light the way he has!

The Criticism: The big question here is: how do we solve the opiate epidemic?  From the mind of an addict, the first step is to quit calling it an “epidemic.” According to the dictionary, an epidemic is a widespread occurrence of an infectious disease in a community at a particular time. In fact, it is often claimed by medical professionals that drug addiction is a “disease.”  What the public is often not made aware of is that a lot of cases of drug abuse occur because of the prior existence of an untreated mental health disorder.  So in reality, we are dealing with self medication due to the inability and/or the lack of services offered to treat the underlying mental health disorder in the first place.   The term “opiate epidemic” is just the same as the “war on drugs;” they are just flashy terms we attach to societal problems in order to bring attention to them.  Think about it; you don’t wake up one day and say “man, I could really go for some Lupus today.”  That sounds ridiculous!  Epidemic infers that the opiate addiction is something that is infectious and is caught by an unsuspecting person as opposed to a choice that people, like myself, make on a daily basis.  I agree that it is a big problem.  The national statistic of all kinds of overdose deaths have risen dramatically over the last decade.  This is not because of some disease, though.  This is largely a result of the additives being mixed in with the heroin.  Fentanyl, for example, is an extremely dangerous opiate that has been being added to the mix.  Don’t get me wrong, fentanyl gives you an incredible rush and high, but at a cost that is as high as the rush you get from doing it. Look at the photo at the top of the page for a comparison between a deadly amount of heroin as opposed to fentanyl.  It will blow your mind!  You can barely see the fentanyl in the jar!  So, if it is so deadly and dangerous, why would people continue to use heroin?  To the average person, they would think it is crazy but what we aren’t told is that the vast majority of people using this heroin/fentanyl combo are getting much more bang for their buck, plus, since they have used it before and are still alive, they don’t even think about it after a while. The only time death is thought about in an addiction is when you wake up dope sick and have no money to get more. That feeling of withdrawal is hell! The only thing you are thinking about is feeling better. So how do we stop it? The answer is simple: quit calling it an epidemic and quit making helpless victims out of addicts.  As stated before, addiction isn’t contagious, it is a choice. Just using the term “opiate epidemic” shows me that there is so little education and knowledge of addiction out there. The public wants to help fix the issue yet praise the police departments for busting all of these dealers by using addicts as informants, thus placing them in a dangerous yet familiar situation.  The dealer gets busted, the addict, instead of going to jail, gets to go back on the streets and the cops get their picture on the front page! The problem there is, the addict is used as bait and when his snitching act is done, he is left on his own to, most likely, go back to using.  As I stated before, a lot of times drug use is brought on by an  often undiagnosed mental health disorder, which could range from simple depression to very complex cases of schizophrenia.  I believe that before any person is recruited by the police department, they should have to undergo a mental health examination to ensure that they are not being taken advantage of by the manipulation of the police department, which is no different than the manipulation of the dealer towards the addict.   I am not a fan of snitches, as I feel if you do the crime, you do the time, however, my opinion on it isn’t going to stop the cops from using them to show the public that all the money they get in grants to buy their assault rifles and SWAT trucks is well spent. If it is going to be done, why not help them?  Make part of their contract they sign include a trip to a long term rehab facility in order to do their part in helping addicts get better?  Same thing with probation officers.  Addict shows up, gives a hot urine test, he goes to jail for a few months until his revocation hearing, THEN he gets paroled to a facility that doesn’t have the best track record for success. By the time he even gets to see a Judge, he has gone through the withdrawal, has been hanging out with his fellow addicts, learning about new drugs on the street that don’t show up in urine tests or easier, legal ways to obtain the drugs they want. Going to rehab, at that point, is pointless.  They have already done the dope sick thing, they have established new connects while in jail and often would rather sit and max out their sentence than be linked to a probation/parole agency that will lock you up for even looking at them wrong.  Too much power, not enough education and/or empathy.  On top of that, the rehabs that are usually available to the penniless, indigent drug addict, are 6 month programs in the middle of Harrisburg, right In the middle of the drug corridor.  If they haven’t found a source for drugs by themselves in the first week, they will meet someone else who has the source. If you can’t tell by now, it’s a vicious cycle.

What can probation/parole do?  I know when I had to go into that office every month, even though I was clean and was doing everything I was supposed to, there was still that inherit fear; walking into the belly of the beast, where often, people come in and do not come out.  The PO does 3 things: 1) are you clean, 2) are you paying your fines, 3) come in next month.  What if I am dirty?  What if I did slip up?  Recovery isn’t as easy of a process as it seems.  Since the Establishment is hell bent on using medical terms on choices people make, I will compare recovery to a major surgery.  Sometimes people go through it, recover in no time and BOOM they are all better.  However, sometimes, infections develop or blood clots form. Then what is done?  Relapse can be seen as the same thing as developing an infection during surgery.  So, then, why should the addict be placed in jail for a hot urine test, where the above cycle will surely take place, as opposed to offering him help?  In many other places around the country, especially in big cities, a POs job is to help monitor the progress of their parolee, and help them when they are down. They are not there to bust them every single time they trip up.  They aren’t the Gestapo!  In this county, for people in that life style, it is a lot like Gestapo tactics: fear, intimidation and, of course, Dr. Goebbel’s infamous “Loose Lips Sink Ships.”  A whisper from anyone on the street who has a problem with someone on parole or probation, can lead to serious consequences for that person, no matter how untrue it might be. Believe me, I have been convicted in the court of public opinion based solely on the whispers of some other addicts who wanted to shorten their sentences.  Despite what you might here, folks, it DOES happen! The fix?  Train the POs to be more empathetic, educate them on addiction and how it affects the addict and their family, show compassion instead of intimidation, that way if a parolee messes up, he feels safe knowing he can go to his PO and that his PO will HELP him and not throw him away and forget about him for a few months.

One last problem I will discuss is the existence of Pill Mills.  You know what I am referring to: The Doc that everyone goes who uses his MD to write scripts for so many people who really do not need it.  I personally know examples of ridiculous amounts of opiate pain killers being handed out to people who have absolutely no reason to be on them!  30s, 15s, 10s, all in one office visit!  How is this allowed to happen?  The medical community is so caught up in their politically correct wording that they do not even realize that a HUGE problem is within their own field!  How do we solve this?  SHUT THESE PILL MILLS DOWN! Lock the doctors up, the same as drug dealers! They should be treated no different! To the contrary, they should be treated worse!  They have taken their position of power influence and used it to start and encourage the use and abuse of Prescription Pain Killers in order to profit financially, and from what I have heard about certain ones, in many other “personal” ways as well!  Plaster their faces on the front page of the Item like they do with all the rest! Cornell DeValle, found guilty of delivery of less than 3 grams of cocaine and was sentenced to 30 years in state prison (after 2 purposeful mistrials by the Northumberland County Das office, mind you)!  Neil Neidig was found guilty of a ton of charges related to the purchase and distribution of marijuana. He got roughly, 25-50 years in state prison. I am not saying either of these men are angels.  I did, however, get to know them in my time locked up fighting my own case, and can tell you that the sentences given to both of these men are, firstly, insane, in the sense that Mr. DeValle and Mr. Neidig got more time than some murderers!  Mr. Neidig, whether you love him or hate him, sure, was caught with a lot of marijuana, however, we live in a country now where more and more states are legalizing the use of marijuana for medical and recreational use!  Who was Mr. Neidig endangering by associating with a drug that has no negative effects such as addiction, and, to the contrary, actually helps a lot of people who are in pain or suffer from a variety of mental and physical conditions.  Mr. Neidig will never see the outside of a prison cell again…yet, in my honest opinion, he could have been part of the solution!  Marijuana is a lot safer, healthier and not addicting as opposed to the opiates that the Doctor Run Pill Mills have no problem feeding their suffering and a lot of the times, patients who aren’t suffering whatsoever!  Mr. DeValle, while it is alleged he was dealing a dangerous drug and if he is truly guilty of the crime of which he was convicted, then he should do time(I got to read over most, if not all, of his Discovery Package and to me it seemed that he was not guilty and set up by a bad person who had his own rap to shake loose.)  Mr. DeValle was offered 6 months of probation before his trial, which he turned down, because he wanted to prove his innocence. After 2 mistrials, as I stated above, he was found guilty and will most likely spend the rest of his life in prison…for less than 3 grams of cocaine!  Meanwhile, Dr. Pill Mill is out there hooking and exploiting his patients, feeding them insane and massive amounts of opiate medication, in a lot of cases where it isn’t even necessary but I am sure some of them have their “personal” reasons and motivations as to why they prescribe to some of the people they do!  50 years for a harmless, in many cases beneficial, plant.  30+ years for less than 3 grams of cocaine. Doc gets to be a public servant, a pillar of the community, a trusted and admired member of the community, when it should be THESE DRUG DEALERS serving them sentences!  Mr. DeValled got 30+ years for one alleged delivery…I wonder how many years these docs would get for the hundreds, if not thousands, of scripts they have written to patients who are in no way shape or form in need of these powerful narcotics, yet receive multiple prescriptions for them, on top of many other Narcotics that are handed out on top of the opiates, i.e. Benzodiazepines.  A lot of people do not even realize that this is going on!  Hell, many people probably go to these doctors and do not even realize that they are letting a drug dealer examine them!

There are many other options I could put forth that I feel would help put a dent in this nation wide issue.  We must be OK with the fact that we will not ever stop it.  There will always be a dealer and he/she will always have demand. Capitalism at its darkest!  These are just a few and, in my opinion, the biggest problems to overcome in order to start getting this opiate issue under control.  In some states, they have safe havens where addicts can go, get clean needles, and use without fear of retribution.  They are in the care of medical staff in case of overdose.  Maybe that is something we can look into and encourage here!  Maybe, instead of trying to get rid of the problem that will never go away, maybe we can begin to actually help the addicts in a clean, safe and healthy environment.  Promote ending the addiction but if it must continue, at least we can say we did our part to ensure that another life hasn’t become a statistic.

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