The relentless tragedy of narcotic addiction, especially of opiates, across America has overwhelmed already depleted public resources, leaving a trail of devastated communities, families and lives – threatening a new lost generation.
For millennia, opiates have been agents that wash away or deaden pain. In light of the chaos of our mental health provision, the lure of opiates (and other drugs) is an understandable, though dangerous, response to untreated mental illness.
It is ironic, however, that the default “solution” to the crisis is another range of drugs.
Substance abuse is clearly another thread in the American mental health crisis. The main arena of public intervention however remains the criminal justice system.
Hearing the phrase “mental health crisis,” one may think of the epidemic of mass shootings plaguing the country since the Reagan era. Or, images may erupt of home grown terrorist attacks or the plunge toward right-wing extremism in contemporary politics.
Yet, suicide outranks both homicides and car accidents as the number one killer of our fellow citizens. Every eighty minutes, for instance, a Veteran commits suicide, the final act of a life shattered by emotional and physical trauma.
The public health dimensions of the crisis have been studiously ignored by the neo-liberal media in its ideological refusal of any primary public role in the provision of health care.
Yet, the truth is already clear: the crisis has been an enormously profitable transition to a new order of private service provision.
To read the rest of this article, please visit American Wasteland: The Profitable Decay of the Opioid Crisis.