• Arne Mortensen

Some thoughts about drug addiction

I have trouble with the concept of addiction. It may seem silly, but are we not all addicted to air, water, and food? Try to deprive any of us of those items and we will fight mightily to get them. On to the lighter side of necessities … I take eye drops because, I am told, I will go blind otherwise. Is that an addiction?

Then I wonder about alcohol and why it is treated differently than, say, heroin. Many people drink, but only a few become alcoholics. I imagine that the legitimate opiod prescriptions (written by doctors) number MANY more times than the number of problematic opiod drug addicts. Does it make sense to penalize those who use opiods for their benefit because some users are abusive? Even looking at cocaine (not prescribed, of course), it seems to be the same: The number of cocaine addicts is far fewer than those who have indulged in cocaine (see this article).

Can a person function reasonably while being an addict (of opiods)? That seems to be the case; just consider that we substitute heroin addiction with methadone addiction, some for a lifetime of maintenance. Anecdotally, I’ve known active rational and performing fire fighters who have been on Vicodin for years to deal with pain from injuries.

Prohibition did not work; it made matters worse. The drug prohibition has had the same effect: We have the drug version of the bootleggers and the bathtub gin that kills people. Why do we stubbornly hang onto the drug laws despite their immense cost and failure? I talked to a retired DEA agent who spent a fair amount of time in South America. That person told me the drug war will persist with no resolution because everyone makes money. Everyone includes local, state, and federal governments, as well as the producers, wholesalers, and retailers.

And lastly, do any of us really think we know what is good for someone else? And if we do, how successful have we been able to sell "just say no." Shall we ban sugary drinks? All I want from government is correct information so that I may decide for myself; I wish that for all of us.

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