Understanding the Causes of the Opioid/Suicide Epidemic and Its Cures (Part II)
Part II: A New Paradigm for American Society: Vital Reforms and Solutions, Grounded in Our Spiritual Roots
If Society is tranquil, it is not because of its strength and its well-being, but because it fears its weakness and infirmities…Everybody feels the evil, but no one has courage or energy enough to seek the cure.
-Alexis de Tocqueville
In Part I, we discussed the numerous cultural causes of our current Drug/Opioid/Suicide plague, all of which stem from the severing of our spiritual roots.
With our abdication of faith in a Higher Power, we lost our adherence to and self-identification with human values and the vibrancy of soul that is wrought by the manna of conscience, virtue, morality, ethics, loving family, the safeguarding of children and their innocence, along with the assumption of the civic duties necessary to ensure the survival of our democratic republic.
As a result of our abjuration, we were cursed with being subjected to the tyranny of inhuman values and our slavish and soulless external identification with money, power, and status which has produced the diseases of starvation of love and of hope, and their detritus.
Because our breach of founding doctrine has contaminated all our institutions and systems, we must address our pestilence of drugs and despair simultaneously, immediately, and effectively, across all levels of organizations and government.
IN TERMS OF OVERALL APPROACH:
The recent legislation adopted by Congress enacted insufficient provisions funded by a paltry $6–8 billion over the next 2 years, whereas the allocation to combat HIV/AIDS is approximately $100 billion over the next 5 years. We need at least this much to fight this scourge, especially when one considers that the cost of drug addiction in the US is $1 trillion per annum.
If this were the incursion of a killer virus like Ebola our government would find a way to halt its influx and spread, discover a cure, and develop a vaccine against it. And we must demand that the drug/suicide epidemic be attacked in the same way.
FIRST: We must stop the supply of drugs by crushing the importation, marketing, and distribution of all lethal substances including, but not limited to fentanyl, carfentanyl, heroin, cocaine, ketamine, methamphetamine, and MDMA, especially by drug lords and cartels.
We must also freeze the manufacture of these poisons at their source, by making it clear to all foreign nations that we will not tolerate their production and export to the US. In addition, it is vital that we rigorously pursue a policy of transparency, accountability, investigations, and legal action with respect to the pharmaceutical companies, medical practitioners, government representatives, health care facilities, etc., who have been involved in the pushing of OxyContin and/or any similar prescription medicantions.
SECOND: We require effective emergency intervention techniques to prevent opioid overdose. In this regard, it is imperative that we institute the national over-the-counter availability of naloxone. In addition, naloxone should be carried in all schools, libraries, inpatient and outpatient rehabs, psychiatric facilities and hospitals, half-way houses, fire stations, police stations, churches, mosques, synagogues, and temples.
Also, communities need treatment referral stations open 24/7, 365 days per year, where people suffering with addiction and mental distress are provided with instant help and then sent to therapeutic establishments.
THIRD: We must demand that the federal government develop a truly successful, dual-diagnosis paradigm, essentially a “cure” with a less than 15 percent recidivism rate.
Individuals should be offered free access to high-caliber inpatient and subsequent half-way house and outpatient treatment-and-recovery regimens. These recuperative places should admit patients for a significant term, allowing them to achieve valid and permanent healing.
We must eliminate any shaming directed against people suffering with drug addiction and/or mental affliction. As such, I advocate that we memorialize those who have died in this epidemic, by erecting Walls of Voices in our communities.
We can and should develop a heroine vaccine, along with non-addictive anti-anxiety medications that can be delivered in a manner that precludes overdose.
Regarding a prospective dual diagnosis inpatient paradigm, “Saving Jenny” includes a suggested modus operandi that includes, among other recommendations:
— detox with the use of MATs (Medication Assisted Treatments)
— one-one-one, personal psychodynamic psychotherapy, as well as family therapy, by clinicians qualified and skilled in the treatment of PTSD, trauma, and sexual abuse
— daily in-house NA/AA meetings
— exercise, access to the outdoors, pet therapy
— on-going at-level education, trade, and jobs instruction, with employment referrals
— pastoral counseling, for those who may wish it, and religious observations available
— adherence to strict standards of safety and medical protocols
— advisement of legal and medical rights
— comprehensive discharge planning
FOURTH: To aggressively and effectively promote the prevention of both substance abuse and severe depression, specific anti-drug and mental health programs need to be enacted throughout our educational system.
In addition, to create an overall culture of mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being, we must:
1. Establish a new curriculum of human values in our public schools. Whether an educational system teaches (or fails to impart) a national ethos of worthy mores determines whether a culture will be a wholesome or a dissolute one, and this ordains all that follows in politics, economics, and in the entirety of society, and for each and every individual. Education IS culture.
2. Involve faith-based communities by having the administration appoint a national panel comprising government officials, clergy, and mental health experts, with the aim of developing front-line community services to immediately, free of charge, assist young people and adults who are struggling with severe depression and/or drug dependency. In this regard, I propose the establishment of psycho-spiritual listening posts, by churches and other religious institutions, available throughout the day and into the evenings, where people could come, without the imposition of any fee, to pour out their troubles and know that they will be heard and that someone will try to help them.
3. Support the expansion of the middle class, the restoration of the nuclear and extended family, allowing for stay-at-home parenthood and the protection of children, along with vital community support for single parents. Change the tax structure to provide tax breaks and incentives for moderate income people, as well as humane after-school child care supervision and tutelage. Outlaw lobbying so that the interests of the majority are first and foremost. Ensure equal excellence of education in every locale regardless of zip code wealth, with rigorous academic curricula. Furnish the means for the less than “one percent” to attend institutions of higher learning. Provide vocational training that includes certification and licensure.
4. Reform mental hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and therapeutic schools, with obligatory insurance coverage for in-facility stays of at least one year, including conformance to new federal dual-diagnosis standards, the upholding of patient’s rights, and severe penalties for noncompliance.
5. Assure that there will be no discrimination by anyone, including employers, landlords, schools, and businesses against any person who is disabled, the victim of rape or any other form of abuse, or stricken with narcotics dependency or a psychiatric condition.
6. Cease the incarceration of low-level, non-violent offender drug users and the mentally distressed. The majority suffering with addiction are persons in unendurable mental, emotional, psychological anguish and anxiety, who have undergone devastating traumas, and may also be beleaguered by physical challenges, using illegal substances to try to relieve their agony. We are jailing people for their pain.
7. Confront a culture of corruption, across all levels of society.
And all of this goes back to the requirement that we embrace our re-connection and re-dedication to our originating principles. To simply do the right with all our might.
We lost our way, but we can find our path again, to our best and authentic selves.
Although our Constitution stated explicitly that it was ordained and established “to form a more perfect Union… and secure the Blessings of Liberty,” it was understood that it was also vested to keep us Good, for as President John Quincy Adams on behalf of the freedom of Cinque and his fellow Africans in the case of the Schooner Amistad stated:
Only our belief in the Creator is the underpinning of the equality of all human beings and of our inalienable rights, and that without which true morality is impossible.
Vivian Percy, Esq. is the author of Saving Jenny: How to Rescue Our Youth from America’s Opioid and Suicide Epidemic