March 21, 2023

The American Market for Fentanyl

When the topic is our nation’s opioid addiction, there’s plenty of blame to go around.

Last week, our Nate Jackson took a hard look at our nation’s fentanyl crisis, which is wiping out the equivalent of an airliner’s worth of Americans each and every day. “Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador,” he wrote, “says the whole thing is our problem, not his. ‘Here, we do not produce fentanyl, and we do not have consumption of fentanyl,’ he claimed last week. ‘Why don’t [the Americans] take care of their problem of social decay?’”

López Obrador (let’s call him AMLO for short) is wrong about the production source of fentanyl, but he isn’t far off about how lucrative a market the U.S. has become for Mexico’s deadly supply of opioids. And perhaps his swipe at our nation’s “social decay” demands a better answer than the one he attempted to provide while blaming the GOP for a “lack of respect” for Mexico’s sovereignty. “There is a lot of disintegration of families, there is a lot of individualism, there is a lack of love, of brotherhood, of hugs and embraces,” said AMLO. “That is why they should be dedicating funds to address the causes.”

But the cause isn’t fixable with taxpayer money. In fact, that’s part of how we got there in the first place, with family disintegration that began when “Great Society” government programs replaced the breadwinning father. Freed of the responsibility of providing for and raising a child, too many men abandoned their posts, leaving the mothers to fend for themselves and often relegating children to be raised by a string of relatives, daycare providers, and teachers while those moms were forced to go to work.

The old saying that “idle hands are the devil’s workshop” has manifested itself in three generations that have taken advantage of our prosperity to fill in those empty spaces with casual physical relationships and consumption of alcohol and illicit drugs — a crutch to take away both physical and mental pain.

Sadly, too many middle-aged men who used to be proud physical laborers now collect government disability checks. This serves as an adequate crutch until one day they take the wrong pill — a fatal pill courtesy of China and Mexico. In the wake of the pandemic, fentanyl overdoses — not COVID-19 — became the leading cause of death for Americans ages 18 to 45, according to the CDC.

But the good news is that restoring a culture with love and brotherhood doesn’t have to cost us a thing. Many thousands of Americans, with the assistance of caring counselors, have turned themselves away from opioid and alcohol addiction, finding success after struggle. More encouragement comes from seeing young people gather at churches in a nationwide revival, looking for an uplifting, spiritual method of filling the hole in their hearts and the vacuum of their spirits. (If you know someone who’s thirsty for a good spiritual devotional, our Ron Helle publishes one each week.)

A couple generations ago, we as Americans were given a simple piece of advice: Just say no to drugs. We should’ve listened then, but we can still take that advice now.

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