Sunday, October 8, 2017

Sixty-four thousand


Drug users, Lower Wacker Drive, December, 2016


      64,000.
      You aren't supposed to start a sentence with a number, never mind a stand-alone sentence or paragraph. 
      Maybe it should have been:
      Sixty-four thousand.
      Either way it looks wrong, which is fitting, since 64,000 is the number of Americans who died from drug overdoses last year. That just seems wrong, and is, though the figure is accurate.
      News to me. I'd have guessed the number half as much. But deaths from drug overdose have shot up—compare that figure to some 40,000 Americans who died in highway accidents in 2016, and that was a particularly bad year on the road, due to more texting and more driving in general, because of lower gas prices.
    The figure popped out of this fine New York Times story about Dr. Thomas A. Andrew, the former medical examiner in New Hampshire, the state hardest hit by the opioid epidemic, who quit his post after 20 years and entered the seminary in the hopes of steering young people away from using and dying from drugs instead of cutting them up after they already have.
      Overdoses, the article pointed out, are the leading cause of death among people under 50, and the problem is so severe that OD deaths have actually cut two months off life the average life expectancy for Americans.      
     As terrible as was the killing of 58 people a week ago in Las Vegas, that is the death toll from drug overdoses about every eight hours in America, 365 days a year. If only we could focus our attention on the daily, pervasive problem as intently as we focus on this relatively rare one. But that is our way—scared of sharks while shrugging off heart attacks. 
     And as with gun deaths, drug overdoses have powerful financial interests, in this case pharmaceutical companies, that encourage pervasive use while ignoring, more or less, inevitable misuse of their products
     The problem can only be expected to get worse, as our government tries to fight drug use through increased punishment, and because of our general inability to admit to social problems, never mind do anything about them. 



10 comments:

  1. Does the horse signify heroin? That's an amazing sculpture. I found myself trying to identify all of its pieces. I would guess that the artist salvaged everything from a farm.

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  2. Yes! I was hoping someone made the connection. It is in the sculpture park around a museum of contemporary Western art near Boulder, Colorado.

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    1. I'd like to see what comprises the rest of it. Being a mechanic, I find mishmash of parts and tools is fascinating.

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    2. Posted above. It's at the Leanin' Tree Museum of Western Art.

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    3. Thanks. Think of it as old deceased farm implements, reincarnated as a marvelous horse.

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    4. Yeah, love that sculpture. I like to try to figure out the clever connections between the photos and the posts, but I'm afraid that one went galloping right over my head...

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    1. It's supported by the government? Probably not for long if the Trump administration has anything to say about it - which, of course, they do. Unfortunately, some/many/most? people still see addiction as a weakness of will or simply bad behavior. All you have to do is stop...you remember, "just say no". They need punishment, not help. You imprision people for bad behavior. You don't spend taxpayer dollars to help weak-willed, bad people.

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