Addicts and dealers: let’s look at root causes

U.S. Congressional Representative John Faso, NY 19 was concerned that sheriffs in his district tell him that “every drug dealer they arrest has a SNAP [food stamp] card in his pocket.”

Every crooked politician who gets arrested has a gold-plated health insurance card in his pocket, which he or she has not paid for. And the phone numbers of their 10 top donors.

Mr. Faso’s ignorance of drug addiction is profound. In case he reads this, a quick lesson from a retired substance abuse counselor. Addiction is a progressive illness—as all of us (except apparently Faso) now know, having learned a lot because of the opioid epidemic.

We know addiction can begin with a back injury, or with a car accident, or with PTSD from a rape, or with heavy drinking as a teen, or with drugs prescribed for Attention Deficit Disorder, or the stress of extreme poverty, and more. We know this illness can strike anyone. Apparently Mr. Faso doesn’t. So the illness progresses, from abuse to addiction. The victim loses his/her job, then his/her home, then family, and there is jail time. It is common that the only social network addicts have is other addicts, and so they deal drugs. Those who use drugs, usually, deal drugs. It’s part of the progression.

It takes treatment, courage and a social safety net—of which food stamps are a part—and years, to rebuild a life that’s been destroyed by addiction. Has Mr. Faso written any legislation to address the opioid epidemic? Any bills that might restrict the profits of the pharmaceutical companies who began this epidemic, and who are currently taking senior citizens’ last dime? Yes, maybe that senior citizen has a SNAP card, because it’s the only way they can eat, and get the drugs that keep them alive. Please, let’s put someone in this job who has some concept of how ordinary people, without a lifetime pension, and lifetime health insurance, actually live.

[Susan Sullivan is a resident of Narrowsburg, NY. For more on issues related to substance abuse and recovery, see pages 11-16.]


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