I was motoring my way to HELL a couple of days ago and listening to a discussion on addiction on NPR.
Intellectuals discussing a down and dirty aspect of human nature, a gritty reality that few understand and fewer know how to treat.
It was irritating to me because it was so clinical. So removed.
The expert being interviewed had that educated, life in academia tone of voice.
I don't know how much contact she has with addicts but I cannot imagine her connecting with them in any way.
Addiction is not a subject to be studied or a thesis to be written. It is a disease or a weakness or a failing (society or the addict) that destroys lives and rips families apart.
It causes great pain and unanswerable confusion.
Addicts are vulnerable. They adopted drugs as a lifestyle to deal with emotional pain or physical pain or an inability to cope with this cold life we are forced to live.
Or maybe they got into the thing backwards. Maybe they liked the initial high as a kick, as an amazing physical sensation.
Until it took control and started kicking them around.
You want to get a feel for what addiction can do? Talk to my brother Ed. Talk to his ex-wife Kathy. A mother and father who have had to deal with the unpredictability and the suffering. People who lost their only son to heroin.
That is reality. That is not a classroom.
My brother recently met a guy who runs an organization that is boldly active in raising awareness of the addiction problem in this country and does what he can to raise money to deal with it.
He is a former addict.
These are the people who get things done. These are the people who know, who connect, who communicate and actively engage the community.
Part of the discussion centered around naloxone, a drug that can save the lives of people who are in the throes of OD'ing.
When a person OD's, the brain begins to shut down respiration. Naloxone blocks the opiate from the brain, removes it from the brain and people revive.
It is considered miraculous.
The NPR discussion informed me that naloxone is sold for pennies in other countries.
Not so in this country. In this country the cost of naloxone was just increased, making it harder for law enforcement and medical authorities to get a hold of it.
Supply and demand.
What the hell is wrong with the United States of America?
Part of the discussion revolved around the high cost of treatment programs and the long waiting lists for those trying to get in.
When pressed to suggest an answer to these problems the expert insisted on talking about the importance of getting people off drugs first, saying once you get to that point then you can figure out how to navigate the system.
In other words she had no answer.
The truth is many people have no way to navigate the system. They drown in bureaucracy and go back to what they know.
We talk too much in this country. We are happy to talk about every goddamn thing under the sun but we are not real good at doing anything about these issues.
People make a living at talking about this stuff, and studying these things.
They make a living in safety and comfort while others die.