Remembering The Least of Us on Int’l Overdose Awareness Day August 31st, 2022

(Translation into most languages at tab to the right)

I wish everyone could read the penultimate chapter of The Least of Us by Sam Quinones. Its title is the same as that of the book. I have almost every line underlined and starred. In it, he describes the dire state we in Western society are in with addiction, the well-thought out reasons many of our public policies are still getting it wrong, and the slivers of hope that encourage us that the world could look differently for the next generation of young people. Some poignant quotes:

“Underground chemists seem to be searching the chemistry literature for drugs that might be molecularly modified to be more potent…The world Gary Henderson predicted when he coined the term ‘designer drugs’ in 1988 is now with us. Counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl (and new synthetics every day) and made in Mexico now dominate the market…There seems now no way to stop all the bizarre drugs devised by those whose own brain chemistry has been twisted by the profits of the underworld’s free market…recovering addicts face scary odds as long as the drugs that torment them are widely available, potent, and almost free. The now-cliché is ‘We can’t arrest our way out of this.’ We can’t treat our way out of it either, as long as supply is so potent and cheap.”

“I’m sympathetic to the idea of drug legalization…The problem is, I don’t trust American capitalism to do drug legalization responsibly…I’m sympathetic to the idea of decriminalizing drugs…Yet I believe it misunderstands the nature of addiction and ignores the unforgiving drug stream every addict must face today…Left on the street, many use until they die…Decriminalizing drugs also removes the one lever we have to push men and women toward sobriety…We need to use arrests, not as a reason to send someone to prison…but a leverage we can use to pry users from the dope that will consume them otherwise. Our era of synthetic street drugs requires this…Drug courts…can use the threat of prison terms to push addicts into treatment, where they can put some space between their brain and dope and slowly embrace sobriety. Life repair can then begin…rethinking of courts and judging is harm reduction of the most elemental form. County drug courts are not a luxury. Synthetic drugs have made them a necessity. After all, people can’t recover when they’re dead, which is what decriminalizing today’s fearsome synthetic drug stream risks.”

I will delve into his reasons for hope in the next blog. But for August 31st, I want to remember all those who have died from drug or alcohol overdose, my son included. Remember that they were precious individuals who were loved by their parents, family, friends and God. And although we live in a world where death is something that happens to every person who is born, premature and preventable death is a tragedy that each and every one of us should work diligently to prevent. Let’s find our arena and fight for the lives of those we love.

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