Mistakes Shouldn’t Be Fatal

It may be that one of our public opinion polls seemed particularly disturbing to me because it appeared just a few days before Easter. We asked, “Should governments spend more money on helping residents battling addiction?”

Just 42 percent of respondents said “yes.” Fifty-eight person answered, “no.”

Now, as we make clear in conducting our daily public opinion polls, they are unscientific. They are the opinions of only people who bother to respond, not representative of the population as a whole.

Still, it’s a bit unsettling that nearly three-fifths of those responding seem to think drug addicts ought to be told we’re not going to give them any help.

It happened that a few days before that poll was conducted, I heard the story of a young man whose life was ended by a drug overdose. He left behind a wife and small child.

His path to addiction began with a workplace injury. His doctor prescribed some opioid pain pills to help him.

He became addicted. Clearly, the physician should have been paying more attention to how his patient handled painkillers.

When pain pills became too much for the man to afford, he turned to heroin. It is both cheaper and, for many people, easier to obtain.

It also is much riskier than prescription drugs. But, from what I’ve read about opioids, those hooked on them will do just about anything to avoid the withdrawal symptoms.

More than 700 people died of opioid overdoses last year in West Virginia. An estimated 30,000 are undergoing treatment for addiction. Tens of thousands of others need it.

Think about the fact that virtually no death from an opioid overdose claims just one victim. What about the children left without moms and dads? What about the spouses? What about the parents, brothers, sisters, friends?

Is not spending a few of our tax dollars to help save their loved ones desirable?

Many victims of drug addiction are truly innocent victims, like the man mentioned above.

But are some addicts idiots who began using pain pills, cocaine or heroin for recreational purposes? Of course.

Should that even matter?

Before you answer, reflect that today is Easter Sunday.

Myer can be reached at: mmyer@theintelligencer.net.