American Deathscape: The Drug Scourge; Sources & Solutions

There is seldom anything more tragic than a 20 year old with a family, a lover and a bright and promising future being discovered face down in some filthy alley, spittle on the lips, needle in the arm. Yet this is precisely the way that a ever-growing share of America’s youth, the lifeblood of our great nation, are ending up. According to the CDCP (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) in the past 16 years over 183,000 Americans have died from overdoses related to proscription opioids – and that is only those that are tied to legally traded drugs obtained from pharmacies and doctors; it does not account from those deaths related to illegally traded drugs on the blackmarket or those that are stolen. The opioid crisis is now being called the worst drug epidemic in US history. This is not hyperbole, drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death in the US and are responsible for the majority of all deaths for Americans under the age of 50. More people have now died from opioids than died during the AIDs crisis of the 1990s. The scourge is so monumental that is has now been estimated that more have died from opioid overdoses in the last 10 years than died during 20 years of of military engagement in Vietnam.

There are a great deal of opioids on the market, both the legal market and the underground bazaars, and even more names from them, including: Captain Cody, Cody, Schoolboy, Doors & Fours, Pancakes & Syrup, Loads, M, Miss Emma, Monkey, White Stuff, Demmies, Pain killer, Apache, China girl, Dance fever, Goodfella, Murder 8, Tango and Cash, China-white, Friend, Jackpot, TNT, Oxy 80, Oxycat, Hillbilly heroin, Percs, Perks, Juice as well as Dillies. However, a couple names stand out from the rest. The proscription pain-killers Vicodin, Oxycotin and Percocet as well as the drug, diamorphine (Heroin) all have had majors roles to play in the drug epidemic but they are not currently the leading cause of death from opioids. That “honor” goes to the high-potency pain-reliever Fetanyl.

Fetanyl is a opiate that is far, far more potent than Heroin – it is 50 times more potent than Heroin and 100 times more toxic than morphine – which is generally used during medical operations that would cause intense pain as a numbing agent as it binds to receptors in the brain and nullifies unpleasant sensation. However, just like with the aforementioned trio of Vicodin, Oxycotin and Percocet, it is also highly addictive. The prevalence of proscription drugs like Oxycotin has led to a vicious cycle of dependency and primal-brain reward-seeking whereby a individual will utilize a drug like Oxycotin or Vicodin, become addicted, find that they cannot afford to fuel their habit legally and then turn to Heroin or black market Fetanyl cut with other substances (often nearly, or just as dangerous substances), because it is much, much cheaper.

Some of the states most hard-hit by the drug-plague include Appalachia, pro-drug Vermont and Washington D.C.

In tandem with the $ 800 billion cut-back to Medicaid proposed by the Trump Administration, the increasing death-toll from the drug crisis has re-ignited a nationwide debate about how often doctor erronously write subscriptions, how often normal people are using and abusing and the extent of various blackmarket and cartel influences as well as what should be done about it all. There has not been much in the way of a coherent answer but several things are imminently clear; firstly, this is a tremendous problem and it certainly is not garnering the attention it so rightly deserves. Additionally, any and all talk of regulations or laws should only ever be a secondary consideration for the core issue here is, initially, personal responsibility. Whilst many conservatives do not do the subject just when they say things like, “Its just a question of willpower,” there is much to this, especially if this is applied to situations where a individual is yet to become an addict. This is axiomatic: if you have not taken or are not yet “hook” on hard-drugs then it is, in no uncertain wise, incumbent, primarily, upon the individual to extricate themselves from the situation and not bow out to hedonism, thrill-seeking or peer pressure. After a given individual has become addicted the equation changes markedly, especially when one is discussion opioids which attach themselves to the pleasure-reward centers of the brain (opioid centers, hence the name) associated with sex, water and food and magnify the pleasure as well as the pleasure-seeking incentive. Physical dependence can theoretically become with sheer willpower but it is so rare that it is irrational for most common people to be expected to accomplish this titian task for it is like asking them to completely cease drinking water or eating food or having a compulsion to copulate only magnified several fold. Therefore, as they say, the best strategy or solution to the problem is prevention but that leaves out all of the individuals scattered across these many United States who are currently addicted to opioids; who are suffering and dejected and hopeless. So what of them? My answer would be either take the government out of it entirely and let the individual communities handle it or have the government take complete control over the situation via a country-wide task-force and a rehabilitation and reintegration program. No half-measures.

Whilst we have here covered the internal national problem of over-subscription of pain-killers there is another worm in the apple which must be discussed; the Cartels. The Mexican Drug Cartels are a huge source of numerous illegal narcotics that are killing our citizenry in record number at record rates. The cartels have a very diverse ranger of goods and services but, to the U.S., they primarily supply: heroin, cocaine and Fentanyl. According to former FBI Director, James Comey, the cartels have increased their production of heroin in Mexico which greatly decreases their reliance on their previous source for the deadly opiate, South America. This greatly reduces the cost incurred to the cartels from shipping which means they can now sell heroin at a much, much cheaper price and devote a greater deal of manpower and resources to primary market distribution. Good news for them, bad news for us. Politicians such as William Brownfield, the current U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for the International Narcotics & Law Enforcement Affairs, has stated that a solution to the cartel problem will be complex and require extensive cooperation with Mexico. Whilst I would heartily agree that it would be immensely preferable to acquire extensive aid from Mexico to help stop the cartel’s drugs from flowing into our borders they are basically a failed state that is run by the very people we should be seeking out and destroying. Regardless of whether or not the U.S. can bring on-board whatever fragment of law and order that remains in Mexico, the Cartels must be destroyed, all of them, and the border secured.

If you think such a declaration to be a touch too melodramatic for your liking consider the fact that the Mexican drug cartels kill over 20,000 per year – and that is only through direct violence, it says nothing of the droves of people who have been killed because of the filth which they peddle. Rates of violence in Mexico are currently so high that they well surpass many conflict zones in which the United States is or has been embroiled, such as Afghanistan and Iraq.

The phrase, “War on drugs,” has always irked me. It is like declaring a, “War on food,” drugs will always be around and in some cases (such as the use of opioids and opiates in the treatment of chronic pain), they should be. But a war must be waged, not on “drugs” but on those who do willfully and maliciously propagate them, on those who push them and those who encourage their use and thereby pollute and corrode the very fabric of our esteemed Republic. It is a war which must be total and absolute.

Kaiter Enless is a novelist, artist and contributing writer for New Media Central and Thermidor Magazine. He is also the founder & chief-editor of The Logos Club. Follow him online here.

Sex, Violence, Death, Toil: A Brief Primer on Fiction Writing, Prt.3

-a truly great work of art will always deal with three things: sex, violence and death. It is my opinion that any work of art which deals not at all with this omnipresent trio of human universals is not worthy of one’s time or, indeed, of really being called a work of art at all.

-Brief Primer on Fiction Writing, Part 1

-one can with absolute certainty say that there are Human Universals, that is, Human Generalities. Everyone who exists was born and everyone who was born will die. Everyone feels the pangs of hunger and thirst, of dread and envy, jealousy and admiration, lust and love, of purpose and purposelessness.

-Brief Primer on Fiction Writing, Part 2

All human endeavors bespeak of ourselves; such is the case with fiction which gives form and function to the nebulous, scattered and fevered energy of the brain’s wild imaginings all of which roil up from from the instinctual chasm. It is only reasonable, given their source, that those instinctual and often obfuscated outpourings would cohere to those elements of the human experience which broader humanity holds as paramount: fear of death, given the uncertainty of what, if anything, comes after; the desire for sex as a replicating process to transcend the certainty of death via propagation of a distillation(s) of oneself into those future times which one will not live to see (echos of one’s consciousness imparted to the surviving lover as memories; the genetic progeny – sons and/or daughters – who will retain some semblance of one’s essential attributes). Then there is the impulse to defend against, violently, all those things within life that are essential to the aforementioned project of transcending death (love, progeny, home, water, food, ect.) and to attack, vigorously, all perceivable threats to those hitherto mentioned qualities.

The greatest pieces of art give to wider humanity the tools needed to grapple with such questions. Not necessarily to solve them, for some are inherently – thus far – insolvable, but to better face them down and navigate their labyrinthine sprawl.

Fiction which does not deal with these primal impulses, with these most crucial matters of human life, can scarcely be expected to rouse the passions since they are inherently devoid of the most powerful of them. If passions can not be roused then men can not, in any large number be moved, if men can not be moved to act in congruence to all those aforementioned questions of import than entropy is intensified and process of social degradation sets in like a cankerous wound.

This is not to say that one’s work should mechanically fixate on the particulars of death, or on the process of copulation nor of the graphic outpouring of those redder urges. Such fixations lead to a cold, stiff introspection on the action alone, that is to say, it places death, or sex or violence as a self-encapsulated and self-sufficient module for the whole of human action; wherein discourse is repelled or stifled at the expense of display alone. It is life as a screenshot. Life as a museum display. Devoid of dynamism and adaptation.

Most everyone can here recall some film that featured countless explosions, and gunshots and great gouts of blood and copulation and yet was wholly boring (). Physical action, alone and isolated, is not particularly interesting, there is nothing there to make one think; all one can do is passively observe a manifest reality. Films such as Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai or Ran, in contrast both feature plenty of scintillating violence (that was shocking for its time) but focus just as much, if not more, time upon the consequences of that very same violence. One of the best examples of the divide we are here discussing (between violence-as-decoration and violence-as-a-window-into-the-primal-state) can be seen in contrasting two seemingly similar scenes from the two films, those being the Dostoevsky-influenced psychological samurai-thriller, The Sword of Doom (1966) and the actionsploitation film/videogame emulator Hardcore Henry (2015).

The Sword of Doom follows the exploits of a master swordsman named Ryunosuke with a unique and bewildering sword style in feudal Japan. His life would be splendid save for the fact that he’s a pure sociopath who derives his greatest pleasure from killing. Around the middle of the film he and the assassins who he is traveling with attack a man who they believe is a political target. The man, however, turns out to be a local swordsmaster named Shimada Toranosuke (he’s played by Toshiro Mifune so you know he isn’t messing around). The assassins attempt to assault Shimada anyways but are all promptly dispatched, one by one as the shots linger more upon their bodies then upon the lightening-fast swordplay itself. After the battle is over only the aloof Ryunosuke, Shimada and the leader of the gang of assassins remain (pinned beneath Shimada’s knee with a sword to throat); Shimada then has a conversation with the defeated leader of the assassin troupe as the normally icy Ryunosuke looks on with wonderment.

Shimada: “Who are you? Your name!”

Assassin leader: “Kill me!”

Shimada: “You’re the leader, it seems. Your hot-headed men made me kill against my will. The men lying here were good swordsmen. Now they’ve died like dogs! How will you atone for it, you fool?”

Assassin leader: [crying] “Kill me. It is the worst mistake I’ve ever made. Kill me!”

Shimada: [releasing the assassin and sheathing his blade, he turns to Ryonusuke] The sword is the soul. Study the soul to know the sword. Evil mind, evil sword.

Contrast this with the big fight scene towards the end of Hardcore Henry where our protagonist, Henry, a cyborg who is seeking to rescue his girlfriend from a albino warlord with psychic powers named Akan, must contend with an army of mind controlled slaves. Arteries are punctured, throats slit, bones broken and heads crushed but there is never any sense of loss or pain for two reasons, the first is that all of the enemies in the fight scene are nameless random goons without emotion or backstory. They aren’t really people, they are simply props and so when Henry is violently dispatching them he isn’t really killing a person he is merely destroying a prop. It certainly looks fascinating but one can not really take away much from the film other than just that: it was pretty cool.

[continued in part 4]