Great article by Will Bunch reaching beyond the understandable shock and grief surrounding the circumstances of Philip Seymour Hoffman's death into the darker and mostly-ignored problem with heroin addiction.
We can't bring back Philip Seymour Hoffman, but we can do this: Start paying more attention to the scourge of heroin abuse -- which with no fanfare from a national media that's too busy tracking the misdemeanors of Justin Bieber, has become an out-of-control epidemic in parts of America. Here's a remarkable thing that happened four weeks ago, that few of use even heard about:
A governor broke with tradition yesterday and devoted his entire state of the state address to drug addiction.Peter Shumlin, the governor of Vermont, urged residents to open their eyes to the growing problem in their front yards, rather than leaving it only to law enforcement, medical personnel and addiction treatment providers. Shumlin argued the facts speak for themselves.In Vermont, since 2000, there has been a 770 percent increase in treatment for all opiates. He stated: “What started as an OxyContin and prescription drug addiction problem in this state has now grown into a full-blown heroin crisis” and — quote — “Last year, we had nearly double the number of deaths in Vermont from heroin overdose as the previous year.”
Heroin addiction crosses all demographic lines and social boundaries, despite the disparate number of African-Americans serving time in prison for drugs. Heroin use is often the next step after prescription drug abuse. It knows no specific race or class, but it is deadly, and rarely discussed.
Meanwhile, there are bumper poppy crops in Afghanistan, and plenty of heroin on the market.
If there is any good to come of a tragedy like this, let it be a sane discussion about sane drug policies, including pathways to rehab rather than prisons.