To The Daily Sun,
Opioid addiction has come and gone in waves during American history. After the Civil War, “Soldiers’ Sickness” afflicted a vast amount of disabled veterans who had been treated with morphine and the recently invented hypodermic needle. The negative effect of that was that post-Civil War vets suffered with severe morphine addiction known as “Soldiers’ Sickness.”
A 60 Minutes report on April 28 was enlightening to me. According to the DEA official who was being interviewed, virtually all of the available fentanyl on the street here in America comes from China. He further explained that it makes its journey to the U.S. via the United States Postal Service. Of course, the “Post Office” is vast and it’s probably impossible to screen millions of daily parcels. Government agencies sometimes work in different ways to meet their individual goals and occasionally it has led to an influx of highly addictive drugs.
Another time that government agencies were somewhat in conflict, which led to an increase in the availability of addictive street drugs, was a few years after World War II had ended and the Cold War soon began when the CIA needed strategic vantage points to spy on the Soviets. According to Humberto Fernandez in his book “Heroin,” the CIA agreed to allow heroin to be smuggled into U.S. ports in return for the ability to infiltrate countries near or inside the Communist regime of the ‘50s and ‘60s. At that time, heroin smuggling had all but been eliminated from U.S. harbors and this renewed the flow, which led to the resurgence of heroin addiction of the late ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s. The big urban area of large cities were overrun. (The French Connection)
What led to the Fentanyl deluge was the (1999-2016) introduction of timed-release high-potency oxycodone, mostly pills that are produced by huge legal pharmaceutical companies. When addiction to these “new” medicines took hold and exploded throughout Appalachian states, Chris McGreal in his book “America Overdosed” described how complex it was for the FDA and DEA, as well as others, to adapt to dealing with a different type of cartel — one that was supposedly, for all intents and purposes, legal, regulated as well as created in and for the best interests of the American people.
At this point, from my perspective as a human service worker and a treatment provider trying to help those who still suffer, I am just very heartened to see that so much energy and community cohesion is being put forth toward the eventual demise of this most recent onslaught of opioid addiction. It won’t happen as fast as we want, but the changes in awareness, laws, government protocol etc. that are currently in process will lead to another significant downsurge, so some experts say, over the next 5-15 years.
Michael Tensel, MS
A&D Recovery Counseling