Walk on By

 A meditation on narcotics in Orange County

There is world here in Southern California that exists under the radar of most people. In a land of wealth and privilege and hope there is a dark underside that we choose to ignore.

It starts in grade schools that fail to meet the needs of their students. Sometimes it is the school’s failing, or the student’s or their families. It can be the latch-key kid or the rich kid with too much time on their hands or the one with troubles fitting in or even some darker, more evil demons. For these demons are very real.

A weak moment. A desire to make the hurt go away. A desire to just get high and not deal with it.

Back when I was running the streets of New York, it was, as Grandmaster Flash said, “fun, baby”. But we learned damned fast that that wasn’t true. If you climb onto the dragon’s back, the dragon always wins. That was thirty years ago and kids are still making the same mistakes and nothing has changed.

When you talk to some of these kids, the story slowly comes out. The reasons for using come out. And what they are using today is far more dangerous than even a generation ago. The drugs are purer and more addictive and more damaging than ever. It seems that every week a kid in Orange County ends up in the morgue from an overdose.

In a time when alcohol is readily available and pot is virtually legal and incredibly powerful, the slide down into madness and death is easy with just a little bit of grease. This is not figurative. It is real as a heart attack.

The price of heroin is at an all-time low and it is easy to find. Just ask any of these kids if you need a hookup. Afghanistan, which supplies 95%+ of the world’s heroin, sees production grow every year. The poppy fields stop at the edges of our firebases. There are rumors that some of the heroin arrives at Camp Pendleton or transits Pendleton because there is less scrutiny. Sort of like the bad old days of the Vietnam War. 100 miles south of here the cartels are bringing it over in truck and boatloads. A Coast Guardsman died last week in a drug bust off of Santa Cruz Island, 100 miles north of here. The War on Drugs has spent hundreds of millions of dollars and is an utter failure.

The shrapnel from the drug trade is all over Orange County and no one pays attention. From the grave of the millionaire kid who “had a car accident” and whose family could have the records altered to a family at Holy Sepulcher grieving a 20 year old kid who OD’d “popping” something way too powerful for them to the kid with the melted synapses at the sheriff’s Theo Lacey facility, it pervades our culture.

Orange County has the highest density of sober living homes in the country. These are the ones who are trying to kick it. With AA meetings and NA meetings and help from their friends they’re doing the best they can. But the temptation can be right there sometimes. A quick hit that no one may notice that may or may not be the hot shot that kills them.

And they fall down and try to get back up again.

And most of us walk on by.

Enabling does no one any favors. Legalizing pot simply indulges stoners for the most part. One of the few growth industries in California in the past several years has been pot clinics. The drug companies legally produce enough oxycontin pills annually to overdose every man, woman, and child in China or more. “Pill Mills” and doctors writing sometimes hundreds of prescriptions for drug dealers and abusers are page 3 or page 4 news.

The fact is that our leaders don’t care or are profiting from our collective addiction. The entire trend of our society has been away from “right conduct”. And yet the people who are trying the hardest to help these souls are faced with indifferent families and indifferent leaders and a moral compass that has been purposely ripped from its moorings.

Funding is nonexistent and rehabilitation has at times been a for-profit industry.

Evil exists, and nowhere more so than in the world of narcotics. In our nonjudgmental world today some might say it is a matter of personal choices. But once that monkey is on their backs, it is no longer a choice. It is a cold hand slowly strangling the life out of them.

And most of us will walk on by.

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