I recently read an article called, Total Depravity: The origin of the drug Epidemic in Appalachia lair Bare. This article was essentially about the opoid crisis throughout this part of America and how they speculate it came to be. This was a very enlightening post as it gave me some insight to how a culture and environment of drug use can come to be and how this cycle of usage develops and carries on through generations.
Opioids and other drugs of this nature are very prevalent in our modern society. However there are places with significantly higher amounts of this usage, for example, “Huntington, the second-largest city in West Virginia, once had a population of more than 100,000 people, but that number has reduced to some 48,000, and almost one-quarter of these, some 12,000 citizens, have either latent or active substance-use disorders.” These statistics are quite alarming to the average person as in our little town we would never think of one-third of it being addicted to this gripping substances. However, in areas such as Central America with a very sparse population, they seem to be a normal part of life. They beg the question of why? Why would there be so many opoid in these smaller regions and how did this culture of drug use become so normal?
This reporter, Richard Cooke believes that this opioid crisis can be linked back to when coal mining was very abundant in the area of West Virginia. “Around the same time organized-labor laws were weakened, a company called Purdue Pharma ‘invented’ OxyContin, which meant taking a powerful opioid analgesic, giving it a slow-release coating that could be circumvented easily, concealing its potential for abuse, and marketing it aggressively to working-class communities increasingly unable to afford preventative medical treatment for chronic pain.” When you think about it this does make a fair amount of sense. It is similar to heroin being used as commonly as Tylenol until it became clear that it was a very addictive and harmful substance. These coal miners obviously used OxyCotin very frequently and started at a very young age due to the painful and rigorous work in the coal mines, so it is no surprise that this painkilling agent became so dangerously popular and widely used. Not only was it widely used but it was cheap and particularly targeted lower class people who were unable to afford professional medical attention for chronic pain. This normalized use of these opioids continued even after restrictions had been placed on it and continue to this day to be a reoccurring problem in the modern world of West Virginia.
Now that the times of coal mining have drastically declined you would think that the use of these opioids would have followed, which is quite the contrary to what really happened. The use of opioids has now become a regular part of people in these areas’ lives and has drastically brought down the quality of life in that area. We are told stories of some personal experience with people that help us get a little insight into their lives, “That hole was present in his own experience: teenaged flashbacks to childhood molestation, hanging with the bad crowd in high school, years of snorting Oxy (though diabetic, he hated needles), recovery, then a slip from complacency. He decided to let loose for a night and within a few hours had a mistress/ drug dealer”. From this, we can see that the use of these drugs is not only prevalent within older generations but still remains commonly used within the younger ones too. After years of exposure to these actions and the environment, it’s no wonder why these people normalize this behavior as it is just so common. This brings us to the question of rehab and what people are doing to try and prevent lives being ruined by this entrancing drug. There have been many centers set up all around the more troubled areas that encourage people to come and try to set their lives straight. Many religious groups have also done this with or without bringing up the controversial topic of God, instead, they just offer support and guidance for these troubled souls.
Overall it seems that the opoid crisis in America will not be coming to an end any time soon, but hopefully will start to see a decline. As we have seen throughout history certain drugs seem to lose their luster over time. Such as in the cases of LSD or Mushrooms, they seemed to lose their hype of the 70’s & the ’80s were passed. We can only try to help addicts begin to recover and reevaluate their choices before they get sucked into this world of drugs and try to break the circle of addiction that has run in families for generations.