Opioids and the Failure of Compassion

Move over meth, cocaine, and crack. The latest addiction du jour is now opioids. 

According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, in 2015 there were 20,100 deaths from prescription opioids and another 13,000 from heroin in the U.S. alone. 

This is essentially the same number of people that are killed annually on our highways. Ditto for firearm-related deaths. And although the statistics for 2016 are not yet available, the overdose death rate is expected to have risen since 2015. 

To address this addiction epidemic, money from the federal and state governments is being poured into prevention and treatment programs. In addition to this, a big point of contention on the ObamaCare repeal effort is make sure that the replacement health care law will have in it what many consider to be adequate treatment care for addicts.  

And it's not all about money. Doctors are also being given guidelines, some of which are mandated, on how they prescribe pain-killing drugs like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and the like. This sounds fine until you wonder what about people with legitimate chronic pain issues, of which there are millions. Are they to be left in the lurch?

The medical establishment tells us that opioid addiction is a disease of the brain. Well, once addicted, probably so. But that does not negate the fact that there's a moral failing on the part of many people, if not perhaps most, who get addicted in the first place. That is, not every addict is someone who 'innocently' got hooked on opioids and then heroin because they were once legitimately prescribed painkillers for a medical condition. Yet, in the reams of newspaper stories on opioid overdoses, this fact is tiptoed around -- just like was done with the deliberate effort to deemphasize homosexual behavior as a being the main contributor to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.  

I bring this up not to be a skunk in the garden party but to observe that this is all part of a disturbing trend in America that seems to cultivate personal irresponsibility. We see this from able-bodied people on welfare and disability to single women having one illegitimate child after another. Illegal immigrants waltz into the country and avail themselves to jobs, driver's licenses, educational services, and medical care in sanctuary cities. All this is irrespective of the law. Foreigners overstay their visas with little to no consequences. None of the financial gurus or fat cats at the banks, on Wall Street, and in Congress who brought about the financial meltdown of 2008 lost their jobs or bonuses, let alone went to prison. Don't study in school? Don't sweat it; you often get a passing grade anyway.

Everyone is a victim, provided they scream long enough and loud enough, especially if they're in the right politically correct category. It is seldom a person's own fault for whatever befalls them. Much of what was once considered unacceptable behavior has now been destigmatized, and sometimes even celebrated. Think of the transgender issue. 

Look again at the 2008 financial panic. Its root cause was that millions of people were buying houses they couldn't afford, often with the direct encouragement of the federal government. And when the inevitable happened, it seems as if these imprudent homeowners walked away from their negative equity houses, and the ensuing chain of repudiations ended with the U.S. taxpayer holding the bag. 

The idea of living within one's means is quaint today. We have become a shame-free society. This is unfortunate because the more self-control people have, the fewer laws and the fewer police are needed to maintain order.  Using peer pressure to uphold traditional norms is frowned upon by the establishment and in some cases is even treated as a so-called hate crime. That's a pity because as the Founder John Adams noted, "Our constitution was made only for a moral and a religious people. It is whole inadequate to the government of any other."

Don't get me wrong. Compassion is all well and good. But there's a line and once crossed, compassion become enabling and is actually counterproductive. In many cases, America has blown past that line and we're now dealing with the consequences. One has to wonder if the glue that has held society together isn't being dissolved by a combination of multiculturalism, political correctness, and over compassion. 

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