Chapter 23-5: Vision for the Future - Part V

We also need to take a hard look at our ‘War on Drugs’ which through both the media and our own natural bias labels addicts as the scum of the earth. With barely a glance backwards, we turn our back on these people and avoid our responsibility in the system that keeps perpetuating pain and anguish year after year at enormous cost to the fabric of our democratic society. One could even argue that the 1965 Law Enforcement Act was, yet another means to keep blacks and Latinas oppressed and deprived of access to decent healthcare and education as money that had gone to fight poverty was now used to fight crime, specifically targeting these low-income communities where drugs were a source of relief from drudgery. And this continues to this day. And yet all addicts were once someone’s son or daughter, somebody’s good kid and we need to do so much better than we presently do when it comes to prevention and treatment.

Parry's Primrose, Magdalena Mountains, New Mexico

I realize that this is an uphill slog to destigmatize addicts and mental health disorders as it runs counter to some of our human nature, our inherent unconscious bias, and yet at our deepest core I think we all recognize a shared common humanity. When disaster strikes a community, the instinct is to respond with care. It’s automatic, we are wired for compassion at this deep level within ourselves. And if we can turn the dialog to talking about how we treat our brains then we will make progress treatment across the board including how we treat pain patients, since they’re caught up in being labeled drug-seeking, when all they want is pain relief. Let’s hope we can do better as a nation for pain patients, like my gentle, loving husband Bob, do better for every patient living with a brain chemistry disorder. Let’s hope we can learn to treat them all with dignity, compassion and loving kindness.