Once upon in a time in the exact place we live now kids played hopscotch in their drive-ways and came home when the street lights came on. Pre-teen and teen kids would hang out at the mall, play in the arcade, ride bikes, build forts and have neighborhood games of football, soccer and street hockey, someone slated for the position of traffic watcher whose job it was to yell CAR when it was time to move out of the street. High school kids played sports, went to the Friday Night Football game, hung out downtown eating French fries from Supremes and scoring beer to drink in the woods, all while feeling totally bad ass. Occasionally someone would be so intoxicated they would have to be dragged home by other giggling and burping friends who would leave said friend on the front lawn, ring the door and run. Later the big scandal would be how long the friend would be grounded, and when they could do it again.
In those days there were curfews, family dinners and no cell phones. Children had their homework checked, not able to leave the table until they ate the green items, and had chores. Those chores involved making their bed, taking out trash, clearing the dinner table, and weed the garden. Those were the days that homemade cookies were not a sign of being a good mother, and cartoons were the Saturday afternoon treat. McDonalds, ordering pizza, or even Chinese food were special occasions, and a rarity not a staple each week on the dinner menu. Parents worried that children wouldn’t get on the football team, cheerleading squad or honor roll. College was expected but trade school for some was also acceptable, as long as it was a reputable career like electrician or plumber.
There were many things that were not great about those times like the stifled feeling most women had on the regular, and divorce was so taboo both men and women would live in misery rather than face that humiliation. And being gay, oh god, no. That was not acceptable, not to mention that the word trans-gender didn’t exist. So, those times were not perfect. And in that way, I would never want to go back, because social justice has to continue to evolve, even if it is once again being attacked. What was not a problem back then was not having enough space in the morgue for all the people that died from drug related causes requiring the state to rent a cold-storage.
A recent article I stumbled across lately was about Ohio’s drug problem. Massachusetts does also have a drug problem, a terrible one, but Ohio has been hit expedetially harder than most areas. That is really saying something because a week does not go by that I hear of someone I know, or someone I know knows (if you got that, you’re a genius) dying of an overdose. Ohio reported last year the coroner’s office processed approximately 500 deaths and more than 100 of which were drug-related. For those that don’t know, not everybody goes through the coroner’s office. Folks that die in the hospital more than 24 hours after admission, and patients on Hospice and most residents of nursing homes or assisted livings don’t need to go to the coroner’s office. So these are mostly unexpected deaths, accidents, and the like. And that was one coroner’s office for one county. That was not the whole state. In 2003 the Ohio Department of Health reported the number of deaths from opioid abuse at 296 and in 2015 there were 2590. But don’t be jealous. New England hit the top 5 worst drug states in 2015 sharing the spotlight was Rhode Island, New Hampshire, West Virginia and Kentucky.
In a nation that is built on freedom for all, the land of opportunity, has lead our youth to the opportunity to kill themselves with any number of drugs: heroin, cocaine, fentanyl or another synthetic shoot able, snort able, or smoke able. Is this because drugs are so readily available? Or is it the destruction of morals and values? Some will argue that once we had two income families that children were left to their own devices hence leading to poor judgment and impulsivity. There are studies that show in the increase in ADD/ADHD diagnosis and medications are parallel with the increase in substance abuse. Is there a proclivity to use drugs based on the foundation of methylphenidate? I consider myself a scientist at heart, and the numbers don’t lie. Or do they? Are those numbers skewed somehow? Are the numbers of ADD/ADHD diagnosis vs incline in drug abuse more due to the pressure we put on ….well everyone? Parents are under pressure to make more money, to keep up with the Jones, and kids have ore pressure to excel in every area possible: straight A student, star sports player, have a part time job and find time to shovel the old man’s driveway next door. That is a lot of pressure for young, developing minds.
My family has morals. I was a single mother, make that a working single mother, most of my kids younger years. They had to go to daycare, and after school care, and take days off when they were sick. Those days were spent taking care of the kids and worrying about taking off to much time from work and whether I would get paid for it or not. But we had dinner together as a family, and played outside, and ran threw sprinklers. Those sorts of worries still exist. Single parents still have the same concerns. And add to that worrying about whether their child will end up in a cold storage feux morgue after dying from a drug addiction is horrible. The drug crisis is as much a public health crisis as is not having space to store the body. In my mind, wouldn’t it make sense to work harder to find a way to save the lives rather than store them?