The Opioid Epidemic is a brutal tradgedy that we here at PoliQuads Magazine do not take lightly. Our hearts, thoughts and prayers go out to anyone who has suffered, is suffering, or knows someone who is suffering from drug addiciton. Please reach out and try to help someone if you suspect that they are having substance abuse issues, it may help save their life.
Politically, there are many overlapping issues that come to the fore in what has been dubbed the “Opioid Epidemic”. We see threads of personal responsibility, government regulation, the “War on Drugs”, corporate accountability, black market spillover, public health, individual liberty, mental health, and punitive justice. And despite nearly 3 decades, hundreds of thousands of casualties, and a bottomless abyss of addiction and despair we see no major solutions being presented from the political class.
The ones that are offered are usually the hardline “Just Say No” penal system approach (involving mandatory minimums, prohibition, and incarceration), or the empathetic, harm reduction, and anti-stigmatization perspective (focusing on decriminalization of drugs, government programs, safe injection sites, and social acceptance). The former is widely seen by medical experts and addiction counselers as cold hearted, cruel and an utter failure, and the latter, more progressive worldview, is seen by many as idealistic, bleeding heart, and overly generous. This is the interesting part about drugs, drug use, and drug abuse in general...people tend to project their personal relationship with substances onto the socio-political narrative.
But what was striking in compiling this issue was that the political spectrum largely agrees as to what the problems are and what should be done. People lay a large amount of responsibilty for the Opioid Epidemic on the large pharmacutical companies for creating these drugs and then deceptively marketing them to doctors and pain sufferers as “non-addictive”. Another point of agreement we’ve seen across the political divide is the widespread consensus that the “War on Drugs” has been an abysmal failure and that steps should be taken to, at bare minimum, shift the focus from users to the causes of drug abuse.
On top of that there is also a growing social movement towards decriminalizing most drugs and this will prove to be a necessary first step towards confronting addiction. We have seen many US states, and Canada, legalize marijuana for any purpose. And we are now seeing a trend of cities and counties decriminalizing “magical mushrooms” for recreation. So the perverse incentives of the black market are being increasingly dismantled and hopefully the social stigmitization of drug use will erode along with it. This should start a snowballing effect that will eventually lead to substance abuse being viewed as a largely health related issue as opposed to a criminal matter (much like the way Portugal and Switzerland have dealt with their drug problems and continue to focus on an empathetic and health based approach).
In this issue of PoliQuads we have political commentary and interviews from wide array of commentators and professionals and we hope you enjoy this last issue before our summer break. Additionally we would like to welcome and thank Ms. Katherine Revello for joining our publication as a Copy Editor. We look forward to working with you and appreciate all you have contributed to our magazine thus far.