Enabling is the mortal enemy of consequences. ― D.C. Hyden, author of The Sober Addict
We started down this road in May when I expressed a great unease over our limited medical resources going to hopeless addicts, in the form of Narcan vending machines, while I had to watch desperate cancer victims wait over six hours in the Delnor Hospital emergency room for absurdly expensive care.
As is too often the case in this back-and-forth pendulum existence, it’s just three short months later and that snowball has turned into a boulder that threatens to become an avalanche.
Considering what will certainly be the controversial nature of this column, I want to be clear that the War on Drugs is an abject failure, if we cut our absurd defense budget by just 10 percent we’d have money for all manner of social programs, some cancer victims have abused their bodies every bit as badly as drug addicts, and no matter what their current state, every human being is worthy of respect, dignity, and compassion.
It’s just that I have a problem with some folks’ definition of the word “compassion.” And let’s not forget that, at it’s heart, addiction is a choice and NOT a disease. No one ever forced anyone to take that first drink or heroin injection.
But let’s get back to our impending avalanche which starts with the Health Department passing out free Narcan doses at the Kane County Fair. Again, as Mr. Donne duly noted, “any man’s death diminishes me,” but why are we expending our scant resources on people who blatantly court death and not those desperately trying to stave if off?
Health Department head Michael Isaacson explained, “We certainly aren’t supporting people using drugs, but we do want to keep people alive,” which is a laudable goal. But while no addict deserves to die simply for the sake of being an addict, how can that move be called anything other than enabling an opioid addiction?
Isaacson added, “As a harm reduction strategy, we want to make it as safe as possible for people, so they eventually get into recovery.” But isn’t that the equivalent of simply teaching a drowning man to tread water a little better? So, Mr. Isaacson, if an addict knows Narcan will be there to rescue them – at $65 a pop to the taxpayer – what’s their incentive to go to rehab?
I’d much rather see that money, time, and effort go to the poor souls who’ve had to choose between insulin and groceries. But as bad as this Kane County program really is, it’s Cook County that takes the addiction enabling cake.
In addition to those West Side “newspaper boxes” regularly stuffed with Narcan, Chicago overdose prevention groups are lobbying Springfield to pass House Bill 2, which would create “safe-use overdose prevention sites” where drug injections would be “supervised” by medical personnel. They claim they’re doing this in the name of “recovery,” but if the very real prospect of an overdose death isn’t enough incentive to convince an addict that rehab is the better choice, how is this abundantly misguided plan going to do it?
Oh! And ironically, you can no longer vape outside in Illinois public places anymore.
Think about Prince. He had more to live for than 99.9999 percent of the population, but even after his plane made an emergency landing in Quincy, Illinois, to have Narcan administered, he still managed to OD and kill himself a few days later. And if his life wasn’t incentive enough…
And aren’t there any number of West Side senior citizens who can barely afford their prescription medications? That level of insanity reminds of a great quote by author Ron Bartono:
The enabler will love the addict into darkness. The addict becomes a shadow of the person they once were. The enabler love is blind and selfish. Blind, because they cannot see the selfishness, when they cradle their own emotions over the addict’s recovery. It will always be tough love, support, and lots of praying to keep an addict clean. The underlined reason for the substance abuse can only be found when the addict is thinking clearly.
Then there’s that pesky Hippocratic Oath which inevitably opens with some version of “First, do no harm,” completely contraindicating a move to aid and abet an addict’s attempt to further destroy their lives. Even most graduating nurses recite some form the Nightingale Pledge which contains the caveat “I will abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous, and will not take or knowingly administer any harmful drug,” which pretty much puts a lid on this assisted suicide possibility.
You may recall that I had a difficult time coming up with a conclusion for that May column, but that’s not the case here.
First, I couldn’t have said it better than Mr. Bartono which is why I quoted him directly. My fellow liberals, and particularly the progressives, who promote these self-destructive enabling programs couldn’t give a damn about the addict. Their only concern is to satisfy a self-imposed sanctimonious sainthood they believe puts them a notch above everyone else.
It’s literally the epitome of killing someone with “kindness.”
And second, the danger in attempting to rescue a drowning man is that he’ll drag you under with him. We all “enjoy” the inalienable right to destroy our own lives, but we DO NOT have the right to take anyone else with us in an effort to prove we’re no better than you.
I used to hold Portugal out as shining example of how ending the drug war can have an positive effect on a country. And it did for a while, but this Washington Post article points a very bleak picture of that nation today.
The reporter described how a spike in drug use has led to cities overrun with “people with gaunt, clumsy hands lifting crack pipes to lips and syringes to veins.” The police have “sealed off warren-like alleyways with iron bars and fencing in parks to halt the spread of encampments,” further describing how, “In one neighborhood, state-issued paraphernalia — powder-blue syringe caps, packets of citric acid for diluting heroin — litters sidewalks outside an elementary school.”
Chicago’s well on its way to becoming that kind of vast wasteland and these addict enabling programs are simply the next step in that catastrophic demise. They’re just another reason why I’ll never set foot in that city again. And the Second City is rapidly approaching the tipping point where it will never come back.
My goal isn’t to demonize addicts because it’s too easy to do. It’s simply to point out how these supposed well-meaning programs only serve to make the opioid addiction problem that much worse. As ineptly as it can be offered, the addicts who want help can still get it, but the rehabilitation process always starts and ends with them. No one can wish an addict into wanting to recover.
Let’s just say I won’t be carrying Narcan around with me anytime soon.