Recently I’ve been reading about the reported meteoric rise across Western nations in the prevalence and incidence of non-prescription drug use and trafficking, human trafficking, and the similar stats about arrests for alcohol addiction. Distinct from but related to these dire trends, are the overarching prevailing factors of climate change and pollution. I will treat those latter two topics in a later post.
My focus here is on the whys, whos, and hows of physical and mental abuse from drugs and alcohol overuse.
Opioids and crystal-meth are the street drugs of choice for most junkies today, and alcohol continues as well to shatter the lives of its victims. That is the chemical tapestry upon which thousands upon thousands of lives each year are ensnared by addiction and snuffed-out by overdosing. A recent drug bust here in Thunder Bay, Ontario, netted the police over $275,000 in drugs, including cocaine, $100,000 in cash, and 1,000 fake pills actually made of fentanyl. Street gangs from Southern Ontario were in town selling mostly to northern reserves. Addicts also are reported missing just about every week, or found dead in town at the rate of 1-2 per month. And that’s only one city in Canada.
The reasons for taking illicit drugs are many and varied, but the majority are traced to;
- high unemployment
- a culture of poverty and school drop-out
- domestic violence
- easy access to drugs
- a fatalistic view of life
Vulnerable people are the victims and targets of the drug trade. Their ages range mostly from mid-teens to late 30s. 60% are male; 40% are female. Many have children of their own. Many are homeless, in a shelter, or living in the downtown cores with 3-4 people per dwelling (room or apartment). Many are treated in hospital for addiction, anxiety, and psychosis. Some are treated or counseled through community support organizations but many of those treated are repeat offenders. Some end up in jail from inflicting violence on others.
This situational summary is not new. These issues have been around for decades in cities across the country, but the point is that the incidences have increased over the past decade at an alarming rate. Local police do not have the resources to be effective in controlling this social corruption. The courts and jails are overwhelmed, and recidivism is high. And opioid addiction for example, has reached into the middle class as well, to include professional and sports groups. The recent legalization of the sale of marijuana in city outlets has brought more focus on drug use generally, leaving people with the impression that taking drugs – like alcohol – is okay. Time will tell how society will cope with the ramifications of alcohol and now hard drug use as ‘normal’, and with the normalization of high powered illicit drug use. We can only hope that the guardians of society’s victims do not themselves become victims.