Upon reading the uproar about Lepage vetoing the bill allowing Narcane to be sold over the counter, I started thinking about the situation. I have to say that the following quote makes a lot of sense:
“Creating a situation where an addict has a heroin needle in one hand and a shot of naloxone in the other produces a sense of normalcy and security around heroin use that serves only to perpetuate the cycle of addiction,” LePage wrote.
But why stop there?
“Creating a situation where a diabetic has a cookie in one hand and a shot of insulin in the other produces a sense of normalcy and security around sugar consumption that serves only to perpetuate the cycle of addiction,” Claire wrote.
“Creating a situation where an alcoholic has a beer in one hand and the idea that he can go get his stomach pumped in the other produces a sense of normalcy and security around alcohol consumption that serves only to perpetuate the cycle of addiction,” Claire wrote.
“Creating a situation where an adrenaline junkie pushes the pedal to medal and the has knowledge that the jaws of life could come pull him out of his burning car produces a sense of normalcy and security around speeding that serves only to perpetuate the cycle of addiction,” Claire wrote
“Creating a situation where a chronic cutter has a gauze pad in one hand and a razor blade in the other produces a sense of normalcy and security around cutting that serves only to perpetuate the cycle of addiction,” Claire wrote.
My point is this: If we stop providing a life saving treatment for drug addicts, we should also stop for food addicts, adrenaline addicts, cutting addicts, alcohol addicts, control addicts, any type of addict, really. I mean, addiction is a choice, right? Obese people eat until they get diabetes, then they continue to eat, drink soda, and we provide them insulin? It’s preposterous! The money wasted!
Let’s stop and think about this for a second. (Pause.) Done thinking? I can wait longer… Good. Come on, people, you know I was being satirical, right?
A drug user loses complete brain function while under the influence, so the sense of ‘normalcy and security’ Lepage mentions is a far stretch from reality. According to The National Institute on Drug Abuse:
“Drugs are chemicals that affect the brain by tapping into its communication system and interfering with the way neurons normally send, receive, and process information. Some drugs, such as marijuana and heroin, can activate neurons because their chemical structure mimics that of a natural neurotransmitter. This similarity in structure “fools” receptors and allows the drugs to attach onto and activate the neurons. Although these drugs mimic the brain’s own chemicals, they don’t activate neurons in the same way as a natural neurotransmitter, and they lead to abnormal messages being transmitted through the network.
Other drugs, such as amphetamine or cocaine, can cause the neurons to release abnormally large amounts of natural neurotransmitters or prevent the normal recycling of these brain chemicals. This disruption produces a greatly amplified message, ultimately disrupting communication channels” (NIDA, 2014).
Furthermore, they continue to explain that continued use of a drug alters the brain’s ability to learn, triggers adaptations in the unconscious memory systems, impairs cognitive function, and even conditions the brain to react differently to specific stimuli.
So, basically, if I’m reading this right, according to the experts, people who are on drugs and addicted to drugs aren’t thinking clearly. And to further this thought and inference, I’d say that addiction is a mental illness. Therefore, we can assume that they are not overdosing knowing that there is a lifesaving antidote waiting for them.
The antidote is not for the user, it is for all of the people that want to help them, all of the people that love them. If anything, it is the second chance that they do not believe they are worthy of.
Lepage is right in that the cycle is not fixing the disease, though. Providing this solution to an overdose is neither aiding or hurting the problem, because overdose is not the problem. The addiction is.
We are not pouring money into our education systems, mental health programs, and wellness clinics. We are not providing the preventative care and supports needed to heal. Until we do, until we say, “ENOUGH!” and advocate that change needs to take place, we will continue to see this cycle. Until we break the cycle of poverty which causes the despair to use drugs or the life of dealing drugs to make money, we will not see improvement. Until we deal with mental illness in a preventative way and accept that mental illness is real, we will not stop people from resorting to drugs to cure themselves. Until we look at every single person living in our country as a person, we will not fix this problem. Until we determine that all people deserve treatment, support, and prevention, regardless of their illness or financial status, we will change nothing. It will get worse.
So, thanks, Lepage, for allowing me to see things through your eyes. It almost made sense.
On a positive note, Lepage HAS pushed for more beds in treatment centers, which is a step in the right direction, but what he’s created is a paradox: I want to help you combat your disease, unless you are almost dead, in which case, it’s easier for you to die.
What will it take for our leaders to listen to the experts and create systems that fix our problems? Anyone?