Back in the July 19 issue of the Chronicle I wrote a column advocating a shift in how we as a society should view and treat drug addiction. If you missed it or need a reminder: essentially, I called for an end to drug prohibition/the war on drugs as well as moving toward destigmatizing addiction and what it means to be an addict.
Since its publication, I’ve had two people approach me with issues they had with the content. It’s not the first time I’ve voiced my opinion in the Chronicle on the topic of drug abuse and drug prohibition, and it’s not the first time I’ve received flak on those opinions either. But I just wanted to clarify two things:
First, I want to reiterate that I was not implicating Page citizens, local law enforcement or the local medical/behavioral health organizations in my column. I tried to make the topics of addiction and prohibition as broad as possible – speaking more toward the state of things as a country and the human condition. My criticisms were not aimed at any local community members, and I apologize if I did not make that clear.
We’ve clearly failed much more at a federal level when it comes to how we view drugs and addiction. There are mountains of evidence that the war on drugs is fueled more by economic, racial and political factors than some benevolent attempt to keep U.S. citizens safe. Simply put, it is a stain on human rights and has only fueled the flames of the opioid addiction epidemic.
While that’s a topic for an entirely different discussion, I just want our readers to know I generally have a positive outlook on how Page as a community handles these issues. In fact, it’s often in local communities where people suffering from addiction can find their best safety nets.
Secondly — another reader criticized me when I wrote that I haven’t been directly affected by drug abuse in my immediate sphere of influence since I’ve been back in Page. By that token, he and others have argued, I am in no way an authority on the subject, and therefore my opinion is invalid.
I abhor this kind of argument. In fact, it’s not even an argument, it’s more akin to the “argument from authority” fallacy that every college freshman student learns in Philosophy 101.
I admit that people who have lost loved ones to drugs or have been the victims of crime fueled by addiction should have a louder voice in the discussion.
But that does not mean I, nor anyone else who wants a say in the matter, ought to be excluded outright.
It’s downright harmful to have such an outlook because it fosters the echo chamber effect. We already have enough of that now on the Internet and in the current sphere of politics.
People find ways to drown out differing opinions or facts that challenge their own world views and, with the help of technology, learn it is much simpler to shove their fingers in their ears and shout “LA, LA, LA, LA, I CAN’T HEAR YOU,” than to strive for honest discourse.
Now more than ever we need to be inviting more perspectives to big picture issues like drug policy and addiction.