This week's post at Social Matter is about a little foreigner back in the news, Mikheil Saakashvili. You might remember him as the tie chewing president of Georgia when Russia slapped Georgia around in 2008. He is in the news again in a strange new role and not in Georgia. His past, whether recent and distant, is pretty illuminating for how the USG runs the world.
How does anyone overcome an addiction? One has to admit there is a problem. Following that admission, a major stumbling block for many recovering addicts is admitting the problem’s depth, enablers, and root causes. Some addicts think they can fix it by moving, but all they achieve is geographic sobriety. The root causes and broken circuits are not being fixed. We have that nationwide with heroin right now. We are too sick as a nation to admit what the root causes are. Our media cannot even be honest with us because to do so would be to frighten the population. The sickest men sprout the oddest symptoms.
A small city in Ohio had a weekend of overdoses. Not one or two, but when it was all said and done, over ten with three dead. Subsequent reports in the following week put the overdose number at twenty-seven. This is a city under 40,000 in population, so the numbers look terrible for one weekend, and especially for one twenty-four hour period. Despite Marion’s longstanding problems with heroin, the week long spike in overdoses is related to a new product. This heroin is laced with fentanyl, which is 15-20x stronger than heroin. This caught the heroin users by surprise. Now law enforcement is racing against the clock to track where that fentanyl-laced heroin may have spread.
A slight tangent, but the fentanyl lacing is not as odd as it sounds. This bad batch of heroin is supposedly just laced with heroin. It comes from Detroit, which had a fentaynl laced heroin rash of deaths earlier this year. Mexican drug units found a way to synthesize fentanyl, and since it is so potent, they would cut the fentanyl with any white powdery substance for a “drug” that looked like fine China heroin, but might not be actual heroin.
Several years back, heroin-fentanyl overdoses were a huge problem in Detroit. Mixes became purely fentanyl cut with any powder from GNC that would mimic the visual signals of real heroin if tested by distributors. There was absolutely no heroin in some batches. In reality, why transport, smuggle, and sell heroin when fentanyl can be synthesized? Detroit is a regional hub for heroin, just like Baltimore, and services this small Ohio town with its outbreaks. There is a price for allowing cities of massive size to shrink, decline and go feral. Detroit being a heroin hub will not make the mainstream media “Detroit is back, baby” fluff pieces.
A weekend of overdoses would scare any small city, and that small city’s media would respond. Like any small media outlet, the locals were hunting for the perfect story to generate sympathy and get more money for them programs. The media needs to massage public opinion so that the folks at home do not see just another overdose or just another dead junkie. They found it in the overdose death of Bailey Witzel. She has a Facebook page still up where you can see her face that looks tired but still has the baby fat of a teenager. She looks younger than 19. She had a toddler, so this is human interest catnip for the press, but they are not going to tell you the whole story.
The blurb by the Marion Star is made up of interviews with users or recovering users who were in Witzel’s life. That is how widespread the heroin community is there. It’s not just you, but your social circle that gravitates towards heroin. The only people a user knows, who are not fellow users, are the members of the criminal justice and social services systems that organize his or her life. I’m just going to pull some lines the outlet wants you to read and generate some sympathetic “feels,” and then discuss the wider story.
- Witzel’s mother: “She did get to spend Mother’s Day with her daughter, her wish.”
- “(Faith) was the one thing she was trying very hard to get clean for,” said Jessica Davis, a friend of the family. “But she had a lot of pain and depression.”
- Witzel’s mother: “Bailey loved just hanging out and being with her daughter, being with her nephew,” Blanton said. “Bailey loved life in general, loved her daughter more than anything. … She loved her daughter more than life itself.”
- Marion County Children Services had removed Faith from Bailey’s care. Her brother said she was working to get clean and regain custody.
- Her friend: “But I just don’t think that she had the resources, and I don’t think she knew how. She was so young.”
- Her brother: “She went to Foundations (Recovery Center), she was going to meetings and everything she could.”
- “When she did get the opportunity to go to treatment, she gave it her all,” her friend Davis said. “She really did. And she was focused on coming out of there a better person, a better mother.”
This post is not meant to poke fun at these people. The spread of heroin is serious stuff, and has worked its way into every little town in America. Imagine if the flood of heroin that started in 2002 had the distribution network of marijuana in 2002? There would be needles everywhere and a million dead. With +20K overdoses a year out of maybe 1 million users tops, the die-off rate is rather high now. We will never fix this problem, though, if our human interest stories are going to romanticize choices individuals make. This is not too different from the media’s use of the housing crisis to paint human interest stories for whatever political changes they wanted. Let’s look further.
1. She loved being a mom, she was an awesome mom, she was a great auntie. No mom can ever be criticized. Look above at the quotes; Witzel loved her daughter more than anything, was a “good mom,” and wanted to be a great mom. Note that Marion County Children Services had stripped Bailey of her daughter. They took her kid away because she was a heroin addict. This isn’t a Hall of Fame mom. Good moms don’t have their toddlers taken from them.
2. The opportunity for treatment, going to meetings, doing everything she could. She was ordered by the legal system to go into treatment this winter. The Ohio Drug Courts are special courts for drug offenders, and get people to go to treatment by giving them the option of treatment and probation or jail and probation. Go ahead and call Foundations (her rehab center) right now. Ask if she stayed for the entire treatment period or if she left treatment early. She left early. That’s how she spent Mother’s Day with her child. Even though she left treatment and had the opportunity to be with her child, she felt a greater pull to use heroin.
3. While you are on the phone with Foundations, ask them who spent time talking her into leaving. If you have drug urinalysis equipment, why not take a urine sample from Witzel’s mom, Bobbi Blanton, and tell me what shows up? If you get her mom alone for an interview, ask her if she uses, ask her if she used with her daughter, ask her when, sorry, if she introduced the drug to her daughter at age 11. Maybe you could ask a reporter who was at the vigil for Witzel what dear old mom said about shooting up, and what he said he would not put in any story. The public does not need to know everything–only what the reporter deems pertinent to generate “feels”.
4. Resources. This “good mom” left treatment and had a warrant out for her arrest for violating the terms of her probation. Authorities looked for her. She could not be found. She spent her time away from treatment getting high and died. She was not giving it everything she could. Forget Foundations, call her probation officer and the Drug Court judge.
5. She was young and did not have the resources. She dealt with pain and depression. She was 19. Might be some good questions to ask her mom about that pain; what was Witzel’s childhood was like? As far as resources, who do you think paid for her treatment? For her kid? You, Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer. What do you think her Medicaid status was? Who did she talk to multiple times a week per the terms of her probation? Before her overdose, there was a network of government employees (criminal justice and social services) and taxpayer money that were propping her up and delaying what has come to pass.
6. More resources. Your money pays for worse enabling. Vivtrol blocks the ability to process heroin, and many people arrested for heroin use end up using it if ordered by the courts. That is $1000 a shot. You, of course, pay for that. Narcan is a nasal spray that can help stop an OD from becoming a death. Your local police department and fire station have doses of it. You pay for that. Those medications could not help Witzel, but they saved a life or two in Marion that weekend.
Witzel’s story is a common back story for the younger addicts. Call Foundations, her probation officer, or the Drug Court judge and ask. These young addicts’ social services or criminal justice case files have enough overlap to reveal that a potential heroin addict is out there in your extended circle of friends. If you know an addict of any sort, you could have predicted these unmentioned details. A broken home, parents who are sleazy, government intervention, and no one wanting to admit reality.
The social decay and rot is multigenerational now. There are reasons the show “Intervention” was a reality hit besides human zoo voyeurism of people drunk and high acting crazy on camera. Everyone has known an addict, and the story is the same. There is a trigger, there is a person people love who runs down a dark path, and there is a network of people who want them to change but have difficulty realizing they contribute to the problem.
The news will not mention any of this. Instead we get a reporter asking family members softball questions for boilerplate answers for a puff piece. These types of pieces are a paint-by-numbers routine that no one will ever learn from, but everyone will feel a little sympathy for a dead young mother. “She’s cute like my girl, her family cared for her, like I do; they didn’t want to see her die of an OD, just like me!” This spin, and these answers, are the junkie version of the ghetto “he dindu nuffin, he a good boy, he goin’ to church erry week” post-crime answers to media questions. No one ever wants to admit something that reduces their social status, and no one wants to admit that they are part of the problem.
“Addiction is a disease,” and the word disease is thrown around in that reporter’s article. What disease–heroin or modernity? What was she running from? Why was she escaping reality for hours in a heroin induced abyss? She was 19-years-old with a little baby. Why was the pull of heroin stronger than the joy so many young mothers speak of when discussing their little ones? Why was her kid not enough to stay clean? Why is her town ravaged by a drug that everyone knows is highly addictive and kills? What was so horrible about her town, her friends, her family, and life that she would die just because she had to get high? Why is her social circle littered with heroin addicts?
The system, as in government judicial structures, did not fail this young woman. The system actually tried to set her up for recovery and to get back with her kid. Modern America is an open air asylum and heroin is an escape. The local news does not want to admit it, but they will dutifully report on the bodies found dead in flophouses. The media just enables this farce to continue and reality to be denied.
It is easy to mock your friends on Faceborg with their Potemkin Village family posts, but their lie is a status-securing lie. Your friends are not abandoning their kids to shoot up for hours spent in a heroin induced stupor. Witzel’s family’s lie is much worse because while wanting to be open about her death, they still need to maintain a dangerous lie. Witzel was an addict, with a support network littered with addicts or recovering addicts. Her death, while tragic, is the residue of a broken society. Heroin is not a disease. Heroin has been around for decades, experiencing resurgences. Heroin’s 21st century renaissance is just a symptom of the empty promises of progressive America.