This may be a controversial missive, but I truly believe this is a topic we must confront.
As reported by New York CBS Local, “President Donald Trump is vowing to step up efforts to combat the nation’s opioid addiction crisis. He kicked off a commission to combat the growing problem at an event Wednesday at the White House. Trump said his administration wants “to help people who have become so badly addicted.”
“Solving the drug crisis will require cooperation across government and across society, including early intervention to keep America’s youth off this destructive path,” Trump said. “We must work together, trust each other and forge a true partnership based on the common ground of cherishing human life.”
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who spoke emotionally about the problem during his presidential campaign, will lead the commission. Trump promised to step up drug prevention and law enforcement of drug dealers, and he told one woman who lost her son to an overdose that he did not die in vain. He listened intently as others shared their stories about addiction and recovery.“Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death in our country, and opioid overdose deaths have nearly quadrupled since 1999,” he said. “This is a total epidemic.”
Having been a Member of Congress from South Florida I’m very familiar with the issue of prescription drug, painkiller use, especially oxycontin. I had a very dear friend who is with the DEA who was my neighbor. He was part of one of the largest pain pill ring busts in Florida, possibly the United States. I’ve recently read that due to opioid and heroin overdoses, there are approximately 100 Americans per day dying. Now, before I present my analysis, in full disclosure, I’m someone who has never smoked, drank alcohol, or taken drugs in my life. My parents were not smokers or drinkers as well.
The question I would like to pose to you, our astute and loyal readers, is can the federal government deal in matters of individual behavior and addictions? Will another government task force or program, do anything to stem this epidemic?
What I find incredibly perplexing is that we have a movement to legalize marijuana but we say we need government to fight drug addiction. Can it be that we’re talking out of both sides of our mouths and creating an impossible expectation?
Think about the folks who despise the “war on drugs” and say it’s a failure. Yet we were just told by President Trump that we’ll create a new panel, create new government programs, and “step up drug prevention and law enforcement of drug dealers” — the latter of which President Obama felt were wrongly imprisoned.
We believe the government has an obligation to save lives, yet we ask the government to legalize a drug, marijuana, that has an adverse effect on lives. So, what happens when there’s a new epidemic of those addicted to marijuana who want to experience a stronger high? Everyone will tell you marijuana is a gateway drug. How many more government programs will be needed?
Here is the dilemma: being a citizen in a Constitutional Republic means individual freedom, liberty, rights, and sovereignty are fundamental. However, with those freedoms there has to be a recognition of the immense responsibility of the individual.
If we are moving towards a government being responsible for the consequences of our individual behavior, where does this end? Yes, this is truly an American crisis, and all of our hearts go out to those who have lost loved ones, but is this an issue government can solve? Is this more of a cultural issue requiring us to examine ourselves?
I must attest, it would appear that the biggest deterrent to drug addiction is knowing that you can — perhaps will — die. If individuals have a destructive nature towards themselves, how effective can the government truly be in deterring their behavior? Yes, let’s have tougher sentencing for doctors who are over-prescribing or illegally distributing these drugs. But where does the individual looking for the high go next, and what new drug — heroin?
We all know the Mexican drug cartels are flooding this country with drugs — it’s a simple free market concept of supply and demand. As long as we have individuals demanding this commodity, someone will supply it, can the government stem the demand? Or, should we go full bore after these transnational criminal organizations as a clear and present danger supplying drugs to our citizens? But then we have these chuckleheads who don’t want a physical deterrent to make it more difficult for the cartels to smuggle drugs into this country. Again, do we really want to do what’s necessary to end this epidemic at its inception? Remember, we’re told the “war on drugs” is wrong, a failure, and has to be ceased.
So, what do we really want America? We cannot have individual freedom, and then want government to be responsible for the consequences of our behavior. We sue cigarette companies because we choose to smoke and get cancer. We advertise for beer and other alcoholic beverages and some become dependent upon these libations, then ask for government programs. We want the freedom to gamble yet when we get into financial trouble we want government assistance, and taxpayer dollars. We want the opioid epidemic to end, but we want to legalize drugs. We want to be able to make our own individual decisions — including bad ones — and then we want government to fix us and our problems.
I’m a dad to two daughters and I pray constantly for them and their lives. Angela and I speak with them incessantly and we both seek to live our lives as the example of responsible living. We try to teach them that every decision has a consequence, good or bad, and stress individual responsibility.
I say this not to deem any other parent a failure, but let’s first realize that we MUST fix this situation in our homes. We need to stress strong parenting, and community involvement. I’ll be honest here, many have a God-shaped hole in their hearts and search out other means to fill that void. I’d rather see more church engagement and involvement in this area, not so much government programs. However, this has to start with us, the American people. We have to reengage our culture and determine what is the level of responsibility of the individual in a free society.
Yes, our government is to provide a safe and secure environment for us — that means upholding our laws and enforcing violations against our law abiding society. That means we do need to stem the flow of drugs entering our nation. We need to be tougher on those who distribute illegal drugs…but if we decide to legalize drugs, they accept the inherent consequences.
Can the federal government, any level of government, tackle individual substance abuse and addiction? That is a Herculean task and anyone believing it can be done is selling the American people bad goods. Individual substance abuse and addiction is an individual responsibility, and we must hold ourselves accountable. We need our families to be strong to fend off the demons that open people up to this scourge. We need churches and communities to police their localities. We need, as a nation, a resurgence of moral character in our culture and possibly instead of the entertainment elite championing sanctuary cities, maybe they can use their platforms to stand as examples speaking out against substance abuse and addiction.
President Trump, Governor Christie, a panel, a task force, none of that can fix this epidemic: we, the people must. And sadly, if we continue down the path of government tackling our individual behavioral issues, it will become a slippery slope.
After all, we have government deciding what we should eat, drink, and do with our lives, as if we are incapable. If we evidence an inability to be responsible individual American citizens, we surrender our liberty and freedoms to government. I have confidence in we, the American people to defeat this epidemic, let’s roll!