Heroin Addiction Expert Says There is an “Even Bigger Crisis” Than Opioid Addiction
In 2015, Florida’s Manatee County recorded 57 fatal drug overdoses. At the time, that level was high enough to place it at the heart of the state’s opioid epidemic. Four years later, the state introduced a task force to tackle the issue of opioid abuse head-on. It was tasked to develop a three-pronged approach along the lines of prevention, education, and treatment.
Sam Quinones, a journalist, and author of the book, Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic, says that the country is facing a much larger problem than drug addiction. He made the remark while addressing a meeting of the Ringling College Library Association. Mr. Quinones went on to say that there would not be a solution to the opioid issue unless everyone assembled there made an effort to leave their homes and get to know the people living in their neighborhood.
Heroin Addiction Expert Explains: Isolation a More Pressing Problem than Addiction
According to Quinones, the underlying issue affecting Americans is isolation. The divisions that people have from each other are driving drug use and the resulting substance abuse issues.
The Los Angeles-based author decided to do his research into opioids, starting with its 1970s black market roots and following them to their present-day function as the most popular class of prescription pain medication. Quinones’ research led him to the conclusion that American society has almost an obsession with eliminating any type of pain, at the expense of dealing with real-life itself.
The Trend in American Society to Avoid Pain at All Costs
He described a trend where college courses are now being identified with “trigger warnings” so that students will know before they enroll that they may be exposed to “painful” ideas. Quinones commented to the Library Association crowd that one of the reasons he went to college was to become disturbed by ideas.
Quinones pointed out that today’s children don’t play outdoors. He and his friends enjoyed their time outside in their youth. Quinones explained that children now are much more likely to be inside playing on a digital device, which further isolates them from their peers.
Engagement Key to Solving Addiction Crisis
If, as Quinones originally thought, the opioid crisis stemmed solely from pharmaceutical companies over-aggressively marketing their products and heroin being trafficked from Mexico, it would have remained in areas of high unemployment. That has not been the case: the addiction crisis is nationwide.
Quinones’ advice for his listeners and the broader community is to think of ways to engage with others. He noted that real change happens in a piecemeal fashion. Quinones pointed out that even though they may not be reported on the evening news, these steps are important.