Normally, I'm not one to go around looking for racism in everything that everyone does--but the response we are seeing at all levels of government to the so-called "Opioid Epidemic" really bothers me. This is not the first "drug epidemic" we have seen and decided to "combat" in America. You may recall the "Crack Epidemic" of the 1990's--but our response to that was very different--for a very simple reason: the "Crack Epidemic" mainly affected inner city America--while the "Opioid Epidemic" is taking place largely in suburban and rural America.
People who died from crack use were poor minorities--not daughters of state lawmakers, nephews of US Senators or grandchildren of corporate presidents. Our attitude then was "it's their own fault for doing such a dangerous drug." Washington DC Mayor Marion Berry became the poster child for the drug, being set up by Federal agents to do the drugs on a hidden camera resulting in his downfall and eventual prison sentence. Today, opiate and heroin abusers are treated like "victims" with ever-growing support and treatment programs funded by the government to help them kick the habit. I don't seem to remember that much "concern" for those hooked on crack.
The "Crack Epidemic" also fueled considerable inner city crime and violence--which was met with an almost militaristic response from the Government. Gangs were blamed for selling and spreading the drug in their neighborhoods. Hillary Clinton famously labeled them "Super Predators" for getting kids hooked at a young age. Police departments formed task forces to combat not only the sale of crack but also the gun violence between gangs and the crimes committed by those trying to get money to buy another fix. And those caught buying, selling possessing or using the drug were convicted of felonies and sentenced to mandatory minimum sentences.
The "Opiod Epidemic" is being treated in the exact opposite way. Police are now asking addicts to call them for help--no questions asked. Drug Courts are being set up to prevent first time offenders from getting felony convictions on their records--including those that rob and steal from others to fund their addctions. And no one is calling the medical professionals that prescribe prescription painkillers to everyone for the slightest discomforts "Super Predators" for setting their patients on the road to addiction. Instead, we hear how we need to "work with the medical community" to find alternative treatments.
So you have to wonder why we needed to "get tough" to "combat" one drug problem--but now we "need to help" another set of abusers? Could it be that we believe that we shouldn't be locking up so many "certain people"?