Andrew Sullivan’s 2018 article for the NY Magazine entitled “The Poison We Pick”, wrote: “…For millennia, the Opium Poppy has salved pain, suspended grief, and seduced humans with its intimations of the divine. It was a medicine before there was such a thing as medicine. Every attempt to banish it, destroy it, or prohibit it has failed…This nation pioneered modern life. Now epic numbers of Americans are killing themselves with opioids to escape it…According to the best estimates, opioids will kill up to half a million Americans in the next decade.
“Most of the ways we come to terms with this wave of mass death…miss a deeper American story. It is a story of pain and the search for an end to it. It is a story of how the most ancient painkiller known to humanity has emerged to numb the agonies of the world’s most highly evolved liberal democracy.
Just as LSD helps explain the 1960’s, cocaine the 1980’s, and crack the 1990’s, so opium defines this new era. I say era, because this trend will, in all probability, last a very long time. The scale and darkness of this phenomenon is a sign of a civilization in a more acute crisis than we knew, a nation overwhelmed by a warp-speed, postindustrial world, a culture yearning to give up, indifferent to life and death, enraptured by withdrawal and nothingness. America, having pioneered the modern way of life, is now in the midst of trying to escape it.”
Sullivan has several short YouTube videos that are important to watch. The first one has video of Purdue Pharma doctors touting the lies and deception about Oxy that were so persuasive most of us believed them:
How Marketing – and Medicine – Spurred the Opioid Crisis (YouTube 3:11) w/Sam Quinones & Purdue Pharma Doctors
The second one is Sullivan explaining the new potency of drugs and the facts that legislation and arrests won’t fix this problem. It is a deeper, societal problem that has left American’s without the things that normally supply humans with the chemical boosts in our brains that spell pleasure. This is, of course, what Sam Quinones wrote in detail about in his 2015 landmark book, Dreamland: The True Story of America’s Opiate Epidemic.
What’s Increasing Fatal Opioid Overdoses (YouTube 3:50) Andrew Sullivan
The full article is well worth the read: “THE POISON WE PICK”
By Andrew Sullivan, New York Magazine, Daily Intelligencer, Feb. 23, 2018.
As John and I know firsthand, there is an unmatched joy that comes from giving yourself sacrificially to others. The first decade of our lives together, we worked, went to school, and played in a band together that attempted to share the love of God with people on the streets and coffee houses. It was a ton of work but we felt very fulfilled and experienced deep, satisfying joy. Our next foray into sacrificial love came with the advent of having children. When we look back at how we raised them, although we received much pleasure from parenting, we did not intentionally offer opportunities for our children to experience service firsthand, which we regret. Fortunately, our daughter went on to experience serving the poor in Mexico between high school and university and has a ‘service’ mindset to this day. Our son, however, had his pleasure center hijacked before he could experience the natural dopamine high one receives from volunteer work. Even when we all worked a Habitat for Humanity 9/11 build day, while everyone else left feeling fulfilled, the joy of working together for others couldn’t match the artificial pleasure he was already receiving from opioids.
The take away from all these very disheartening observations? An ounce of prevention is truly worth more than a pound of cure – it is the cure. Our hope and prayer for the next generation of young people is that we, as parents and grandparents, will work to cultivate and instill a sense of what real community looks like in these young lives so they may know the sacrifices and joys that come with loving and serving others.