Regarding opioid crisis, I want to begin speaking about three addicts I knew personally. None of them was a criminal. Thinking about them I have realized that the solution may have to be de-criminalization, like in Portugal. Prohibition of alcohol during the 1920’s failed totally. “War on Drugs” has failed too. When the law requires impossibility it emboldens criminals.
Prof. Zenta Watanabe got doctorate in Germany and was a well known Old Testament scholar in Japan when I was at the Tokyo Union Theological Seminary during the 1950’s. He was a heroin addict. It started with prescription after a major surgery. He was persuaded to go for rehabilitation through total abstention. It was so difficult he attempted suicide several times. He said he would never recommend abstention as a solution.
My grand father, Dr. Yukichi Takeda was a veterinarian served in the Japanese Imperial Cavalry during the Ruso-Japan War of early 1900’s. He saw the worst. I found only recently that he was an addict all his life. I guess it’s called PTSD today. He managed to look normal and conducted an active working life until he died at the age of 82. I remember the smell of disinfectant every time I walked into his den. Being a veterinarian, he had an easy access.
I met many damaged souls when I came to Canada. Japanese Canadians were released from internment and gradually returning to the coast. Visiting the Mental Hospital in Fraser Valley was my regular routine. J.O. was addicted to substance but wanted desperately to be rehabilitated. Many times he went into the rehabilitation program; failed every time. He died trying, a few years later.
In the Victorian England, opium was a common recreational drug like alcohol and was sold in any drugstore. Connan Doyle, Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Browning, George Elliot and many other prominent people were well known regular users. It was a profitable commodity for the East India Company. England waged a war against China when it tried to stop opium import. England was a world’s biggest drug dealer then.
We take some kinds of substance for recreation. Alcohol for example. Many painkillers contain opioid. Many cultures have used substance of some kind, like qat, coca, cola nuts. Abused them, they are addictive and toxic. But with control they can be medicinal. Current crisis is the result of illegal product of questionable quality produced by criminal elements.