Warriors Dream

Drug Opioid Drug Addiction
Image from a Gord Hill poster for the 2022 critically acclaimed documentary “Love in the Time of Fentanyl”. (Used with permission from the director Colin Askey.)

She has the eyes of a soldier gazing with weathered shock and exhaustion in a war governments could draw to a close.

Tess is overworked, underpaid, and sometimes shamed as a frontline lifesaver at an overdose prevention site that’s also a gateway to treatment for addiction. Orders from superiors forbid this veteran speaking openly about an ongoing deadly battle with any media and Tess is not her real name. She’s a caregiver where some use dangerously potent drugs to escape despair and trauma that all too often originates in adolescent hellscapes though users can also come from nurturing families, perhaps experiencing nasty consequences of medical attempts to ease physical or mental anguish.

We all care about saving the children but few come to their aid when they age, living through the pain of past horrors with daily kicks.

Loved ones as well as strangers are dying from unregulated drugs in homes and alleyways across this land. People like Tess do their best to prevent death and injury. Harm reduction workers are not the bad guys. They are extremely underfunded while the criminals and the police are well financed in a war on drugs that’s unwinnable with countless casualties for over half a century.

It is illogical, fiscally foolish, and demoralizing to constantly pursue ineffective tactics in combat.

Roughly a hundred years ago when American values and laws prohibited alcohol the drinking didn’t stop but flowed underground where thousands died or suffered lifelong disabilities from black market liquor that was occasionally poisonous. Prohibition ended in abject failure after The Feds took thirteen trips around the sun pushing virtue over human nature and empowering organized crime in the U.S. of A. Perhaps more of the rich and influential felt the blows of enforced abstinence back then so it soon came to an end after making headlines jailing a handful of bootleggers.

It’s true plenty of people still perish today from overindulgence in regulated alcohol but, unless we embrace theological command, that shouldn’t prevent the rest of us from reveling in the vacation of alcohol even with the negative aspects like believing getting drunk makes you smarter.

In democracies across the globe there’s respectable businesses and individuals in our neighborhoods legally selling a variety of alcohol and running inebriation sites. These enterprises have rules to follow as well as adherence to state inspections for each stage in the agriculture, manufacture, and consumption of liquid drugs. Some folks out there don’t like seeing big government in action sanctioning sensible, not absolute, freedoms for all citizens to enjoy if they wish. 

Many choose not to booze. Our population has developed several public, private, peer, and religious institutions to help emancipate alcoholics. Perhaps more importantly, most of us don’t automatically dismiss drinkers or diss the ones who earn a living over spirits.

Fentanyl of course is a much more sinister demon than beer. Liquor laws make it difficult but have never stopped determined teens from getting smashed on schnapps. Ask yourself if the nation’s legislation classifying certain substances and practices illegal is what’s stopping you from injecting opioids into your veins. Or does one’s own outlook and wealth determine one’s drug use?

Millions believe the solution to an ugly epidemic expanding in downtown everywhere is to help the addicts by putting them into rehab. Basically the plan is to imprison them as comfortably as possible for their own good until they are clean.

Alright then, let’s just say the far-left get into power and outlaw meat eating because it’s contributing to a climate crisis. If you are caught eating any animals other than insects you would be sent to an institution that only served vegetarian meals. After thirty days you are released. Would you still eat meat?

Breaking out of addiction can not be imposed by someone else. It has to be your decision to quit. Your choice not to partake. In countries with liberty it’s the only way that works and it’s certainly not foolproof. Hope is key to victory for survivors in this fight. Hope.

If we abide by autonomy and perhaps strive to follow the compassion of faith the only practical solution to a dire situation, besides strongly investing in healthy childhoods and better support for every frontline worker saving souls from going under, is to legalize all drugs. Let’s officially administer harm reduction for users and the rest of us. Authorities could do this in a similar way that alcohol, tobacco, and gambling vices are regulated presently in free market nations.

To diminish bloodshed for power maybe we could give everyone involved in this illicit multi-billion dollar line of work a chance to go legit by continuing their roles in the development and distribution of narcotics but without the murdering, the human trafficking, the exploitation, the corruption, the terrorism. Would it be better to allow industry and players the possibility to earn money lawfully before going in with guns blazing?

Villainy will not end easily. Countries’ current armed forces in the drug war could be redeployed to protect law-abiding participants from violent pariahs in the future at every level of legalized trade during a slow steady seismic shift in public policy and policing. Taxes on the products and people involved could cover the price of regulation and healthcare for those who get messed up like our ancestors have since the dawn of civilization.

Even someone who doesn’t like to enhance reality while conscious could look forward to fewer scenes from a nightmare on hell street if we apply intelligent design to a species that gets high in very diverse ways time after time.

Establishing trustworthy drug supplies (which many researchers, workers in the field, all sorts of users, and distraught families have called for repeatedly with evidence) would be far less costly than the tsunami of overdoses, body bags, and mortal grieving from a militant operation plan that’s FUBAR.

Mark Kirkwood Callingham is a semi-retired dad who works full-time for a homeless shelter in downtown Ottawa. He’s also the founder of an economic evolution that would elevate the best practices and proposals from around the planet through democracy.

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