Saturday, February 8, 2014

An actor dies; what about the other 37,999 drug overdoses every year

So one celebrity dies of a heroin overdose and all of a sudden the media discovers lots of people who are addicts and some of them even die. They report the news with concerned looks on their faces so phony you can see why they failed as actors and had to go into broadcasting. Heard one news head say the public is just discovering the heroin problem. Bulldust. It is the media who are recently discovering it. After years of only sporadic reporting, now one movie actor dies and all of a sudden OMG there is heroin in America.

They register surprise that it is in Vermont. a typical attitude toward any place in the country that has trees and isn't New York City.  People, it is everywhere.  It is in Barrow, Alaska, on the Arctic coast, the northernmost city in the United States, for crying out loud.

The death of Philip Seymour Hoffman from a drug overdose brought out waves of sympathy and remembrance, particularly from the entertainment industry. Just like when Cory Monteith died last year the overwhelming attitude was about the loss, the sympathetic recollections of their fights with drugs and wishing they could have done more to stop that seemingly inevitable decline until death ended it.

Overall, even with the rest of us, the overwhelming reaction was sympathy and attempts at understanding, the sense of loss and almost deifying the dead. Law enforcement reacted quickly as well, making four arrests a couple of days after Hoffman's death including one person believed to be the actor's supplier.



According to the Centers for Disease Control, 100 people in the United States die of a drug overdose every single day, 38,000 a year. And it's not going away – again according to the CDC, deaths have tripled just since the 1990s. Do the cases of those other 37,999 deaths this year get that kind of police response?

Are we sympathetic to the rest of the people killed by drugs? Do we speak of them almost with reverence? Or, more likely do we lump them into a group of dirty, lowlife, criminal, weak untouchables who didn't matter? For those of us who matured in the 60s, an awful lot of us know or at least know about someone in our lives who died because of a drug habit.

Personally I know of two, and a third who is in what amounts to an asylum with a vegetable for a brain. Looking back,  you could see the potential for abuse even before the problem started.  We had all pretty much lost touch when they became involved with drugs so I did not see the decline. Understand, coming up in the 50s, drugs in the suburbs weren't even an issue or a temptation. Alcohol was and the people I know who died from drugs were big drinkers when they were adolescents who landed in the 60s with addictive personalities, dependence on a substance (alcohol) and a desire to party.

More recently I came to know someone who depended on methamphetamine to get through a very difficult life. She could not even admit it was a problem yet she went through several attempts to stop and gain some measure of control over her own life. She always returns to it and I think she did very recently after almost a year and a half in a recovery institution. It's difficult for most of us to imagine something can have that kind of control over a person. How strong the addiction is came out in two separate interviews I saw this week. Two hard-core heroin users said when a product hits the street that begins killing people from overdoses, like the one that apparently killed Hoffman, that is the product they try to find. Why? Because they know that is a stronger drug and they always want the strongest one available.  One of those said he never had any fear of overdose or death from one of those high-potency versions of the drug.

Heroin has been around in the U.S. for more than a century and really took off in the drug culture of the 60s, moving out of the cities into the broader general culture. And it has been a problem all that time. But we pay little attention to it until a celebrity dies. This was a man who had money, access to any kind of treatment he wanted and obviously needed.  Yet he had that habit for years, slowly killing himself. This was a member of the privileged. What about all those kids in the cities who don't have that advantage, no positive influence not to do it, and who end up dead or in prison?

As much as I have scoured my mind there doesn't seem to be any logical conclusion to this piece. Supposed experts and news heads are talking about all kinds of solutions, but most of those have been around for years, yet use increases and more people nameless to most of us die. I suspect too, this bulge in publicity will slowly die out as the talking heads turn to another Justin Bieber or Kardashian scandal. 

Honest, intelligent, hard-working people will continue their unheralded efforts try to take care of the victims, punish the criminals and try to solve the problem, but each is that Dutch kid with his finger in the dike perhaps stopping one little part of this while the mass threatens to overwhelm them.

Slowly drug use and danger and deaths will fade from the public eye again, at least until another high profile celebrity overdoses and then the news heads can be surprised again as they interview the same experts about the same problem with the same potential solutions.

I don't have a solution, I wish I did. All I can see is that any help must be on a face-to-face, one-by one-basis – individual treatment, and that is a huge task. And, a whole lot of that needs to be done in education and environment even before drugs become the issue. But I can't even be sure that works. I tried for eight years to divorce my friend from meth and failed; so did some very credible professionals.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Interesting quotations

My dear Mr. Frost: two roads never diverge in a yellow wood. Three roads meet there. — @Shakespeare on Twitter

"The mark of a great shiphandler is never getting into situations that require great shiphandling," Adm. Ernest King, USN

Me: Does the restaurant have cute waitresses?

My friend Gail: All waitresses are cute when you're hungry.

I'm not a writer, but sometimes I push around words to see what happens. – Scott Berry

“The rivers of Alaska are strewn with the bones of men who made but one mistake” - Fred McGarry, a Nushagak Trapper

A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity. – Franz Kafka

We are all immortal until the one day we are not. – me again

If the muse is late, start without her – Peter S. Beagle

Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. ~Mark Twain Actually you could do the same thing with the word "really" as in "really cold."

If you are looking for an experience that will temper your vanity, this is it. There's no one to impress when you're alone on the trap line. – Michael Carey quoting his father's journal

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. – Benjamin Franklin

It’s nervous work. The state you need to write in is the state that others are paying large sums of money to get rid of. – Shirley Hazzard

So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence -- Bertrand Russell

You know that I always just wanted to have a small ship to take stuff from a place that had a lot of that stuff to a place that did not have a lot of that stuff and so prosper.—Jackie Faber, “The Wake of the Lorelei Lee”

If you attack the arguer instead of the argument, you lose both

If an insurance company won’t pay for damages caused by an “act of God,” shouldn’t it then have to prove the existence of God? – I said that

I used to think getting old was about vanity—but actually it’s about losing people you love. Getting wrinkles is trivial. – Eugene O’Neill

German General to Swiss General: “You have only 500,000 men in your army; what would you do if I invaded with 1 million men?”

Swiss General: “Well, I suppose every one of my soldiers would need to fire twice.”

Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.—Gloria Steinem

Exceed your bandwidth—sign on the wall of the maintenance shop at the West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center

One thing I do know, if you keep at it, you usually wind up getting something done.—Patricia Monaghan

Do you want to know what kind of person makes the best reporter? I’ll tell you. A borderline sociopath. Someone smart, inquisitive, stubborn, disorganized, chaotic, and in a perpetual state of simmering rage at the failings of the world.—Brett Arends

It is a very simple mind that only knows how to spell a word one way.—Andrew Jackson

3:30 is too late or too early to do anything—Rene Descartes

Everything is okay when it’s 50-below as long as everything is okay. – an Alaskan in Tom Walker’s “The Seventymile Kid”

You can have your own opinion but you can’t have your own science.—commenter arguing on a story about polar bears and global warming

He looks at three ex wives as a good start—TV police drama

Talkeetna: A friendly little drinking town with a climbing problem.—a handmade bumper sticker

“You’re either into the wall or into the show”—Marco Andretti on giving it all to qualify last at the 2011 Indy 500

Makeup is not for the faint of heart—the makeup guerrilla

“I’m going to relax in a very adult manner.”—Danica Patrick after sweating it out and qualifying half an hour before Andretti

“Asking Congress to come back is like asking a mugger to come back because he forgot your wallet.”—a roundtable participant on Fox of all places

As Republicans go further back in the conception process to define when life actually begins, I am beginning to think the eventual definition will be life begins in the beer I was drinking when I met her.—me again

Hunting is a “critical element for the long-term conservation of wood bison.”—a state department of Fish and Game official explaining why the state would not go along with a federal plan to reintroduce wood bison in Alaska because the agreement did not specifically allow hunting

Each day do something that won’t compute – anon

I can’t belive I still have to protest this shit – a sign carriend by an elderly woman at an Occupy demonstration

Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stared at walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing. – Meg Chittenden

Life should be a little nuts or else it’s just a bunch of Thursdays strung together—Kevin Costner as Beau Burroughs in “Rumor has it”

You’re just a wanker whipping up fear —Irish President Michael D. Higgins to a tea party radio announcer

Being president doesn’t change who you are; it reveals who you are—Michelle Obama

Things sports announcers say

"… there's a fearlessment about him …"

"He's got to have the lead if he's going to win this race."

"Kansas has always had the ability to score with the basketball."

"NFL to put computer chips in balls." Oh, that's gotta hurt.

"Now that you're in the finals you have to run the race that's going to get you on the podium."

"It's very important for both sides that they stay on their feet."

This is why you get to hate sportscasters. Kansas beats Texas for the first time since 1938. So the pundits open their segment with the question "let's talk about what went wrong." Wrong? Kansas WON a football game! That's what went RIGHT!

"I brought out the thermostat to show you how cold it is here." Points to a thermometer reading zero in Minneapolis.

"It's tough to win on the road when you turn the ball over." Oh, really? Like you can do all right if you turn the ball over playing at home?

Cliches so imbedded in sportscasters' minds they can't help themselves: "Minnesota fell from the ranks of the undefeated today." What ranks? They were the only undefeated team left.

A good one: A 5'10" player went up and caught a pass off a defensive back over six feet tall. The quote? "He's got some hops."

Best homonym of the day so far: "It's all tied. Alabama 34, Kentucky 3." Oh, Tide.

"Steve Hooker commentates on his Olympic pole vault gold medal." When "comments" just won't do.

"He's certainly capable of the top ten, maybe even higher than that."

"Atlanta is capable of doing what they're doing."

"Biyombo, one of seven kids from the Republic of Congo." In the NBA? In America? In his whole country?

"You can't come out and be aggressive but you can't come out and be unaggressive."

"They're gonna be in every game they play!"

"First you have to get two strikes on the hitter before you get the strikeout."

"The game ended in the final seconds." You have to wonder when the others ended or are they still going on?

How is a team down by one touchdown before the half "totally demoralized?"

"If they score runs they will win."

"I think the matchup is what it is"

After a play a Houston defender was on his knees, his head on the ground and his hand underneath him appeared to clutch a very sensitive part of the male anatomy. He rolled onto his back and quickly removed his hand. (Remember the old Cosby routine "you cannot touch certain parts of your body?") Finally they helped the guy to the sideline and then the replay was shown. In it the guy clearly took a hard knee between his thighs. As this was being shown, one of the announcers says, "It looks like he hurt his shoulder." The other agrees and then they both talk about how serious a shoulder injury can be. Were we watching the same game?

"Somebody is going to be the quarterback or we're going to see a new quarterback."

"If you're gonna play running back in the SEC you're gonna take hits."

"That was a playmaker making a play."

Best headlines ever

Sister hits moose on way to visit sister who hit moose.

Man loses his testicles after attempting to smoke weed through a SCUBA tank

Church Mutual Insurance won't cover Church's flood damage because it's 'an act of God'

Homicide victims rarely talk to police

Meerkat Expert Attacked Monkey Handler Over Love Affair With Llama Keeper

GOP congressman opposes gun control because gay marriage leads to bestiality

Owner of killer bear chokes to death on sex toy

Support for legalizing pot hits all-time high

Give me all your money or my penguin will explode

How zombie worms have sex in whale bones

Crocodile steals zoo worker's lawn mower

Woman shot by oven while trying to cook waffles

Nude beach blowjob jet ski fight leads to wife's death

Woman stabs husband with squirrel for not buying beer Christmas Eve