After months of speculation, there was an official announcement made today. Prince died of an opiate overdose. Sad to be certain that a great talent and seemingly a great man was cut down at a relatively young age. To some, this is a character indictment. To me, this is the sad outcome of a deadly disease. My empathy is deep and wide for his family and fans. 114 other people died of an opiate overdose the same day Prince did. America’s fantasy of a “drug free America” is killing people. It is time to let science and medicine take the reigns and leave shame, judgement, and incarceration as a distant memory and a hard lesson learned.
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Jamie Moyer defies logic. In a youth focused game, he was 50 when he pitched an MLB victory. For most professional pitchers, their gift peaks in their late 20’s and an extreme outlier would be in their late 30’s. Now and then, someone will crack 40. Unheard of is 50. Moyer and his wife Karen are deeply committed to service. They have adopted children and given them a home when there weren’t other options. Their concerns for disenfranchised youth extends beyond their own home and into an arena that many never bother to consider. What happens to children who lose a parent to addiction?
Helping Children Cope with Loss Due to Addiction and Overdose
For years I was a therapist in residential rehab and I always felt we didn’t pay enough attention to families, specifically children. SAMHSA reports “6 million American children are living with a parent in need of treatment” (samhsa.gov). That translates into the cycle of addition that is difficult to break. Children steep in alcoholism become alcoholics or marry them, keeping the dance alive and incubating the next generation of substance addled people. Lost even more deeply, are kids who lose a parent to overdose. With 115 deaths daily due to overdose, there are vast numbers of children largely living in shame and secrecy about the demise of their family.
Jamie and Karen Moyer want to change all that. They have a foundation that finds summer camps focused on grief and loss for kids. It’s an oft overlooked issue and major challenge. A few years back, I had the great pleasure of interviewing Jamie Moyer and I am happy to report his foundation is alive and growing. The overdose problem has a ripple effect, one we are ignoring. Well done Moyers, we should all be grateful for you.
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While a jittery Brussels gets back on its feet and the world speculates “who’s next,” the theories are flying about who is to blame and what to do. The right looks to assign blame to a lack of guns and a religion, while the left is scurrying to indict radicalized individuals; but there may be a culprit that stealthy sneaks out the back door: addiction and a voracious appetite for drugs.
Making the Link between Terrorism and Addiction
As Westerners look to insulate themselves from the insatiable demands of modern life, many of us have turned to chemicals, and for some of us that means heroin. The once shadowy mysterious culture around heroin use has found its way to suburban malls. As the tide of gentrification swells in American life, even heroin is becoming as common as a Starbucks or Gap. “Treatment not incarceration” is an embryonic, but growing battle cry but America is still steeped in a “just say no” mentality that is about as effective as “abstinence only” birth control. Seldom, if ever, do Americans look at the ripple effect of what addiction does to other systems: families are destroyed, finances consumed, prisons overflow and yes, terror networks are funded.
Recent estimates from the UN show that Afghanistan produces a staggering 90% of the worlds opium poppies (http://www.unodc.org/documents/crop-monitoring/Afghanistan/Afghan-opium-survey-2014.pdf). That translates into billions of untaxed, unregulated, and untraceable funding for terror networks. Certainly a family in crisis with active addiction in their household has other things to consider than the global implications of the drug trade, so where does the responsibility lie?
Terrorism is an abstract concept, difficult to define and wage war against. Like any effort, it doesn’t work well without funding and the funding is from the drug trade. In all the actions given to ending terrorism, little seems to be done to address the chain of money. The net result? Well funded terror cells and an America dropping 100 bodies daily to overdose. Anyone who has loved someone caught in the tight grip of addiction knows, it’s pretty terrifying. Maybe the terror is more than we think.