One of the drawbacks of living in a free society is nature’s unrelenting requirement that we balance liberties with responsibilities. Asheville has a love affair with the former, while it shuns the latter.
There are many examples, but none stand out more than our full-throttle drug culture. For a view into the dark soul of that crooked enterprise, look no further than the impact of opiates.
We live in a time when three times more people are killed by opiates than drunk drivers — yet we still wink at users and dealers with remarkable tolerance.
Our approach to treatment is equally misguided, and though no one is really willing to talk about it, our intervention rate is abysmal. That’s partially because we’re stuck on a dated “one size fits all” disease model that is remarkable for is uselessness.
Any hope of treatment success necessitates a comprehensive model that overdoses participants with personal accountability. That takes courage, realism and dedication — all of which are in short supply among a community of handwringers.
Painting addicts as innocent, powerless victims is enabling — not loving.
Those looking for a starting place for countering the harms of our drug culture might consider the word “stigma.” There should be massive stigma associated with selling or misusing opiates and other drugs for the same reason there is stigma associated with beating one’s wife; murder; molesting children; driving under the influence; misusing starlets; or — in Asheville — being a conservative.
Without stigma there is no accountability. Without accountability, we will forever be chasing the tails of relapsed and newly recruited addicts.
Accountability reconsideration is not in our future. In our naiveté, the truly innocent and powerless — children, families, social workers, health care providers, employers and crime victims — will continue to suffer our permissiveness.
It’s just too easy to look away — and simply wring our hands when we can’t.
— Carl Mumpower