Drug Culture Literally Crazy

Among the many challenges in fighting the plague of substance abuse that has washed over our region is that, for the most part, the people fighting it are logical, reasonable thinkers. There is no logic or reason on the other side.

In fact, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine pointed out a particularly disturbing trend: When a person dies of an opiate overdose, demand in that community for opiates goes up. Addicts are lured by the possibility of a better high. Rather than scaring them away, as a reasonable person might expect, overdoses are actually boosting the temptation for those enslaved by addiction.

“Nothing makes sense about this,” DeWine told the congressional Joint Economic Committee.

DeWine was speaking to Congress as part of an effort to understand the substance abuse epidemic’s effects on the economy.

In the drug world, it seems, producers and dealers are not worried about killing off their customers because deadlier, more potent products build their reputations. As demand increases from remaining addicts, prices can also increase. And, mind-bogglingly, there are always new customers.

Meanwhile, DeWine explained the economic effects on the rest of us: Mortality rates are higher now than they were 20 years ago; babies are being born as addicts; foster care systems and jails are overflowing; taxpayers are covering some of the cost for treating those trying to kick the habit; and employers cannot find qualified applicants who pass a drug test.

To top that, there is the enormous amount of time first responders now spend answering calls for drug overdoses and drug-related crimes. That and other burdens on communities create an economic strain that is more difficult to measure.

DeWine’s insights are important, as so many people come to the realization that we still do not know how to fight this enemy. It sounds as though the first step should be to throw traditional reasoning out the window.