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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Drugs in America

 I am mildly addicted to beer and wine.  I used to drink large amounts of brandy on occasion as well, but for some reason I don’t anymore.  I remember getting started drinking beer as a kid, because it was the thing to do in the crowd that I ran with in my early high school years.  During my working life in the Foreign Service, I always had a well stocked bar in my home and I consumed alcohol every day, but rarely got drunk, because I was usually working the room for some lofty policy reason or another.  I thank God that I never got into anything more addicting than alcohol and I am comfortable with my lifelong beer and wine consumption.  My view of hard drugs is very negative, not because of any moral reasoning, but rather because they so obviously destroy the individual’s life.  I do not have a scientific background and am unable to talk usefully about the science of drug use, but I do have strong opinions about it based on what I see it doing to far too many people in this country.  Were I able, I would remove narcotic abuse from the face of the earth.

I am not able to do that, so I understand that we must deal with it as a major problem facing America.  I don’t believe that we are doing nearly enough to cope with it and we are therefore forced to try to deal with the secondary problems that arise from its’ presence in our lives.  Because it appears to be the easier end of the problem to deal with, we tend to focus more on denying the availability of drugs than on the mental health problems that lead to their use.  American society today is proof positive that this approach does not work.  Drugs are an important part of the destruction of America that is ongoing right now and we are ignoring it as a society.  We walk past living zombies on our city streets every day of the week and increasingly think of it as part of the landscape.  That didn’t happen when I was a kid.  We didn’t have huge numbers of derelicts on the street and we didn’t ignore the ones that did appear from time to time.  Today, we build walls around our homes and worry about China feeding our drug habit.  We do not adequately deal with the habit itself.  There are even idiots in this country that favor military action against Mexican middle men and Chinese producers of the raw materials.  

Our approach to drug use is the exact same as other difficult problems where we attempt to address symptoms rather than root causes.  This is a strategic error of significant magnitude.  I argue that we do it because the root problem is too difficult for us to address, or even admit.  In my view, what we are seeing is the failure of our society to provide adequate amounts of success to the populace as a whole and an increasingly large number of us are turning to drugs as an escape from our failure  to “succeed.”  It is an extreme manifestation of the effort to escape reality that we see all around us.  I argue that our fascination with social media and the alternate cyber world that we are constructing is our effort to build an alternative reality that we like better than the one that increasingly pushes in from the real world.  Moscow, Beijing and Teheran have not “progressed” as rapidly as have we and are still playing my yesterday’s rules.  In a world that possesses nuclear weapons that is an exceptionally dangerous situation.

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