The actual statistics relating to America’s drug and alcohol use are no longer necessary. Every person can see the damage being done by the increased drugging and intoxicating of America. Whether it is the loss of a family or friend from an overdose, a DUI related car accident or the daily turmoil a legal drug, illegal drug or alcohol is doing to you or a loved one, North America blissfully continues to market, sell, produce and import more. The number of well known personalities who have succumbed to an overdose over the years has become nothing more than emotionally driven tabloid news with no endgame.
We pass by the panhandlers on our streets as if we don’t see them. All victims of substances they can’t control. But, no worries, our insatiable thirst to alter the natural state of mind rationalizes the despair we choose to ignore.
In 2015, over four billion prescriptions were dispensed which averaged out to about twelve prescriptions per person. If you are over 65, the average was about 27 prescriptions per person. About 1.2 million college students drink alcohol every day and an estimated 700,000 smoke marijuana. The feel good drugs containing amphetamines are called “the smart drugs” for our children and young adults of all ages. We spent over $374 billion dollars on prescriptions drugs in 2014. That equates to about $1400 per person.
Opioids accounted for 259 million prescriptions in 2012, 255 million prescriptions for anti-depressants, and at least 13 million people received a prescription for an anti-anxiety producing benzodiazepine. So called mental health and pain related drugs accounted for over $40 billion dollars in 2013.
It doesn’t matter how long we have to wait for a prescription as long as the drug store promises they will fill it.
In 2013 our veterans were killing themselves at the rate of 22 per day, almost one lost soul per hour. Most were on a combination of drugs that had been written and dispensed by a person wearing a white coat. In North America, a drug will cure all of our natural God given reactions to life.
A response of love, caring and extra time has been eliminated by the promise of a pill. Suicides and murders are antidotal to our drug and alcohol culture.
A new love affair with marijuana is just beginning knowing Colorado is expected to reap $5 billion in sales since it became legal in that state. Recently a law maker in Atlantic City suggested legalization of marijuana “to help revitalize the economy” of that city.
The last statistics from the White House estimated $191 billion dollars in lost revenue to business is due to drug abuse. Alcohol wasn’t mentioned.
Some estimates are as high as 80% of all prisoners are in jail for a drug or alcohol related crime. We have over two million people incarcerated to help fuel the prison system economy with drugs and alcohol the leading culprit as an accomplice.
President Obama recently suggested over another $1 billion dollars to maintain people on legal opioids after the addiction process is full blown. There was no mention by the President of curtailing the production of any prescription drug.
Congress will support and overwhelmingly approve the President’s initiative to create long term dependency allowing doctors the “bait and switch” for another opioid. The addiction industry is asking that doctors can prescribe drugs for addiction at the rate of 500 patients per doctor instead of limiting them to “only” 100 patients. That equates to 400 more people under medical supervision destined to face severe withdrawal if they don’t take their drugs daily. Avoiding withdrawal has become modern medicine. All know the power of buprenorphine and methadone.
Pharmaceutical companies have received billions of dollars in fines for miss marketing and misrepresentation and it remains drug production as usual with no jail time.
And the legal drugs are not enough for North America. We import billions of dollars of heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine from our global neighbors. The idea of building barriers to curtail the import of illegal drugs is met with demonstrations and violence against the messenger of the idea.
Along with drugs, we cannot get enough guns. It is now reported that we have more guns in America than people. With every new massacre, more guns are sold. One estimate had an underground gun economy (illegally sold) at $750 million.
As I write this, Chicago lost another 13 people due to gun related violence during the Father’s day week-end. The inner city of too many cities has a daily fear of death and carnage from gun violence.
It would be naive to believe that the economy for too many people in too many communities does not rely on the sale of drugs and guns. This translates into billions of dollars in cost from lost lives, judicial system costs and prison costs.
For those lucky enough to not be killed or arrested, the money generated from drugs and guns buys brand names that will garner prestige. As Nike sells it shoes, they and every brand name clothes manufacturer reaps large rewards from the “drugs and guns economy”. Hats, shirts, pants and shoes define the success for too many surrounded by drug and gun deals.
Corporate America secretly understands what the drug and gun dealer want. They market directly to the drug and gun culture.
Police are told to back off and let the dealers ply their trade, but are the first to be called after the next bullet is fired. Corporate America has remained silent in the “All Lives Matter” conversation.
“LET’S MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN”
We have millions of people who can’t function due to drugs and alcohol, millions more who can’t go a day without their legal fix, a government and corporate culture that relies on the dysfunction and money drugs and alcohol create, and a younger generation that only knows a culture of drugs and alcohol.
We have millions of people who are part of a dysfunctional workforce that our drug and alcohol consumption can be blamed for. The corporate and government enablers are endless.
The pharmaceutical and gun organizations have the most influence in Washington and the profits drugs and alcohol bring to so many is a reality this country needs to understand.
When Nike, Reebok, Ralph Lauren and Timberline convene for a meeting in Washington, along with leaders from every religious and ethnic background, I will have some hope for the future of America.
Air Jordan’s replaced by work boots or dress shoes? What a concept to make America great again.
Larry Golbom: Author of “NOT SAFE AS PRESCRIBED”