The Opioid Epidemic from a Rural Prosecutor’s Perspective

I was at the end of a meeting with a mother whose child is a victim of the country’s opioid epidemic. “So, I’m trying to write about how the opioid epidemic is affecting us,” I informed her. She responded immediately: “It touches everyone, it’s everywhere. I mean, how did it get to this?”

“Where do I even start?”

Muskingum County, Ohio, is a typical Midwestern community full of kind, generous, and community-minded folks. Social and volunteer organizations flourish. Local philanthropists have made it a point to invest heavily here, to the entire community’s benefit.

Zanesville, the county’s seat, weathered the storm of the Great Recession better than many Midwestern small towns, but you can still see the scars.

Even so, the county has a little bit of anything you might want. You can live in a historical district, a downtown artist colony, or so far out in the country hills that you’ve got no mobile phone coverage. There’s farm-to-table food, fast-food joints, and Tom’s Ice Cream Bowl, voted USA Today’s “Best Ice Cream Shop in America” as every proud Zanesvillian is pleased to tell you. It’s Midwestern small-town America.

It’s a good community, with 86,000 decent, hard-working people. Yet every person here knows or is acquainted with someone who is affected by what the media calls “the opiate crisis.” It is a scourge our country allows to rage on, unfettered.

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25 Responses to The Opioid Epidemic from a Rural Prosecutor’s Perspective

  1. bogsidebunny says:

    This is gonna sting, but deal with it: There’s only one “logical” way to deal with the opioid crisis. Give the shit away free and order extra body bags.

    • Curtis says:

      Sadly, from what I’ve seen here in Ohio, we’d need to send in the Army to check on the welfare of the little children of the addicts because they routinely kill themselves leaving a baby or toddlers behind.

    • Bacon says:

      Your “logic” is fundamentally flawed, because that’s a whole lot of previously decent Americans you’re ready to throw under the bus there, Bogside. How about we redirect some of those resources we’re wasting on illegals towards drug rehab and a fresh start for folks who never did much of anything wrong other than to listen to their pill-pushing doctors?

      If we’re gonna give the shit away for free, then how about giving away free drug rehab on a voluntary basis as well. At least give the addicts a choice. Free shit and a body bag, or a couple of years living in barracks in the middle of nowhere, sweating it out working double or triple shifts under constant supervision. Those who make it through the program get to go home with enough savings to make up for the gutted economy in much of the rural midwest. Those who don’t can crawl into their body bag and OD in peace, knowing that at least they fucking TRIED.

      Some addictions stem from an individual choice. Some stem from a prescription.

  2. Plankton67 says:

    This is a potent, sobering article. My opinion is that these drugs are a form of chemical warfare upon the American public.

  3. just sayin says:

    it all started with big pharma bribing doctors to prescribe that shit.
    now they are trying the same shit on in Oz, and our corrupt as fuck politicians will take the money and let them poison OUR country now they have been stopped from poisoning your country.
    oxycodone and its evil cousins should be BANNED due to their highly addictive properties.

    ps l agree with “free” drugs for all, decriminalize them, then organized crime has to find a new source of income.. prohibition worked so well for alcohol they added DRUGS to the list..
    can’t fix stupid no matter how hard you try.

  4. CC says:

    Meanwhile, the pain-relieving, non-lethal effects of cannabis remain prohibited.-

    • rob says:

      I smoked that shit for 40 years until the deleterious effects on my life became impossible to ignore – and then went through 6 months of hellacious withdrawal.

      Be happy, it’s legal now or will be soon wherever you live. But don’t kid yourself about the negative aspects, and don’t be thinking it’ll only be intelligent adults like you that’ll be smoking it, either.

      • Muzzle Blast says:

        Tepid bovine feces. I have enjoyed cannabis for over 50 years and know sundry folks with similar tenures and none have issues that come close to what you describe. Your claims and the tenor of the included article read as just more hysterical prohibitionist pablum. Remember, reality is for people who cannot handle their drugs … it isn’t the cannabis, it’s you.

        • Bacon says:

          So says the long-term stoner…
          Yeah, I’ll trust your objectivity on the topic.

      • CC says:

        Compare it with booze, which was only illegal for a relatively short time.

  5. Chris Mallory says:

    Government causes the problem. Government takes more money and freedom from citizens to fight the problem. Repeat until the citizens hang government employees from trees.

  6. Cederq says:

    We as a nation has had an opioid epidemic for over a hundred years, we sent the Navy and Marines to China to secure a trade route and the resulting war was called the Boxer rebellion so the fat cats in government both here and Britain could have their opium. Ever hear of Laudanum?

    • Larry says:

      Opium had nothing to do with the Boxer Rebellion. The Opium Wars were 40 and 60 years prior and were fought by Britain to allow them to sell opium in China. The opium came from India.

  7. SgtBob says:

    See Pain Relief Promotion Act of 2000. “Congress finds that–
    (1) in the first decade of the new millennium there should be
    a new emphasis on pain management and palliative care;
    (2) the use of certain narcotics and other drugs or
    substances with a potential for abuse is strictly regulated
    under the Controlled Substances Act;”

    Congress decided poor people were denied pain relief because of controlled substance laws and inability to pay for drugs necessary to alleviate pain. More than likely, yes, all that came about because of lobbying by pharmaceutical companies. But, Congress cannot dodge its responsibility by hiding behind speeches and feel-good laws.

  8. Bert says:

    A lot of what I see, read, and hear regarding the “crisis” relates to the supply side and very little to the demand side. Yep, sounds just like a discussion about economics. Put simply, if the demand dries up (that is, people quit using the poison) then the supply likewise dries up. Problem solved.

    Yeah, I know in reality it is not so cut and dried, but hey, an addict is an addict is an addict. It used to be they weren’t born that way when drugs and usage was “tame”. Sometimes we respond to an incident where 2 criminals shoot and kill each other by saying “thinning the herd”. Is the opioid “crisis” much different?

    Disclaimer: our family lost one member to an overdose-that person was a lifelong user, had plenty of chances to straighten out, but lived a life of hell and couldn’t deal with it anymore. Life ain’t always easy and one usually has to live with the choices they make.

    • Bacon says:

      Yeah, the opioid crisis IS different. Although supply and demand are always related, in most other economic situations, supply and demand can be treated as separate curves. But with addictive substances, supply is the primary driver of demand.

      Until someone is hooked, demand is near zero. Once hooked, demand is driven by the addiction, rather than by choice. That’s the reason why drug dealers freely give out “samples” to gain new customers. And that’s also the reason the Big Pharma reps convince doctors to write prescriptions that might not be medically advisable.

      Whether someone gets hooked by their local dealer or by doctor’s prescription, few go out looking for the product until they are hooked. Once hooked, the addiction drives the demand. So the supply and demand curves are completely skewed, in both position and shape, in comparison to most other consumer product supply and demand curves.

      I’m sorry for the loss of your family member.

  9. whynot says:

    Strictly my observation (medical) – when JCAHO (Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations) made “pain” (which is subjective) a vital sign (which is objective), in fact even calling pain “the 5th Vital Sign”, the door was opened. In the mid-90s, I remember seeing a sign in every patient room (ED) saying along the lines of “you have the right to be pain-free. If your pain is not controlled, please call XXX.” The next night when I came in, every sign had been taken down, too many calls.

    I have been “let-go” because I was not writing “enough narcotics” (this was in 2012).

    So, from a health-care professional’s perspective – hospital administrators and organizations share a HUGE portion of the problem. Add Press-Ganey to those responsible….. I have colleagues who are paid based off their Press-Ganey scores (patient satisfaction)….anyone see a problem here?? So a patient comes in, doesn’t get what they want, gives a bad Press-Ganey score and pay is affected.

  10. Stu says:

    I’ve suffered through 3 total joint replacement surgeries over the past 18 months and have been diagnosed with needing 2, possibly 3 more just to be able to be minimally functional. I’m being denied pain medication because of this bullshit.

    As far as I’m concerned, and the millions of other pain patients, fuck the addicts!

    • Larry says:

      I worked my way through school as a nurses aide in a long-term care facility. This shit goes in cycles, and the ones who will suffer most are those in chronic pain. Fuck the addicts.

    • GFxRocket says:

      In the last 40 years I have had over 15 root canals. I was always prescribed oxycodiene and never had an addiction problem. I recently has another one and was told to take ASPRIN!??! I told the dentist this was total BULLSHIT! Because of the medical professions inability to properly prescribe pain meds and letting this shit get out of control I have to suffer?? Like he gave a shit… The only thing I regret now is I don’t have access to pain meds legal or illegal thank you very much

  11. just add violence says:

    Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte had a novel approach.

Play nice.