There are three types of drug dealers: The ones that sneak around under the darkness of night in alleys, and those that sneak around in broad daylight in lavish offices at pharmaceutical companies, and the third type: prescribing physicians that disregard the Hippocratic Oath and choose to do harm instead.
The first type was recently arrested in Appalachia; brothers from Detroit who hired locals to pander their poison potions. Outsiders who used insiders to feed the addiction monster.
According to the Herald Dispatch, on April 17, a drug trafficking sweep called “Operation Saigon Sunset,” arrested multiple criminals and turned off the drug pipeline between West Virginia and Michigan—for a while anyway.
“More than 200 federal, state and local law enforcement officers took part in Tuesday’s take-down effort, according to U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart — including Huntington Police, Drug Enforcement Administration, Cabell and Wayne county sheriffs and Marshall University police. The West Virginia National Guard also provided personnel to support the operation,” Courtney Hessler reported.
But, individuals with drug addictions caused the supply from their demand. Without addicts—no payoff for drug dealers.
And the victims: neglected children, distressed parents, distraught spouses, devastated friends, alarmed residents, and troubled communities—held hostage by the opioid epidemic.
And then there’s the disease of addiction. A monster that robs individuals of relationships, jobs, vehicles, homes, and bank accounts. It ravishes self-respect, self-esteem, and self-love. The monster kills by way of overdose, a drug deal gone bad, infectious diseases, or other methods. And finally the addiction monster sucks the last gulp of air and puts a human being in a graveyard. Children cry. Spouses grieve. Parents mourn. Friends lament. And society sees a wasted life.
But, the addicted are both criminals and victims; the two-sided coin analogy applies.
Female adult survivors of child sexual abuse are nearly three times more likely to report substance use problems and male adult survivors of sexual abuse victims are 2.6 times more likely, according to statistics from Darkness to Light. (www.d2l.org/)
Many of my former clients with addictions spilled out their horrendous sexual abuse stories. The females were sexually abused by fathers, stepfathers, brothers, stepbrothers, male babysitters, or male friends of the family. The males were sexually abused by male babysitters, camp counselors, older male cousins, or boyfriends of mothers. Many victims self-medicate after traumatic experiences.
Should law enforcement round up the predators/perpetrators who sexually assaulted children who grew up to become adults who used illicit drugs to escape horrific childhood suffering? I’m not one for vigilante justice, but each individual with an addiction has a story. Can we acknowledge the face behind the addiction and offer compassion and treatment options?
And when is jail/prison an alternative for an addicted person? Sometimes tough love, accountability, and consequences are part of the solution. A safe society for citizens is fundamental. That’s the purpose for laws, police, courts, judges; both punishment and rehabilitation.
Let’s contemplate on the lives of the drug dealers as well. Were they children of drug-addicted parents, incarcerated parents, abusive parents?
According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, “Abundant research in psychology, human development, and other fields has shown that events and circumstances early in peoples’ lives influence future decisions, life events, and life circumstances—or what is called the life course trajectory.” (www.drugabuse.gov/)
Nonetheless, dirty needles left in playgrounds by addicted individuals are disconcerting. The shakedown of adolescents outside malls is disturbing. Home invasions, robberies, and muggings for money and/or legal pain prescriptions are frightful.
According to USA Today, “Across the country, more than 100,000 doctors, nurses, technicians and other health professionals struggle with abuse or addiction, mostly involving narcotics such as Oxycodone and Fentanyl.”
Addiction doesn’t care if a person is poor or rich; white collar or blue collar; young or old; white or black; male or female.
I think we can all agree that the drug addiction monster destroys human lives.
Melissa Martin, Ph.D, is an author, columnist, educator, and therapist. She resides in southern Ohio. www.melissamartinchildrensauthor.com.