The National Center for Health Statistics just released its report showing that almost 60,000 Americans died from taking drugs in 2016. This data amounts to around 144 people a day dying from using drugs. The calls for Trump to declare a national state of emergency regarding opioid use were rejected this week with Trump repeating Nancy Reagan’s advise to just “say no” and “that drugs are “a very bad thing.” What else can we expect from someone who acts as if he is on some type of drug?
According to the data the current crisis of drug usage is cutting across every swatch of America. There is no community, no zip code, and no racial or ethnic group that is not affected. The report suggests that part of the problem is that people who were addicted to opioids, due to prescription abuse, are now turning to heroin. The report said that 2.6 million Americans are addicted to opioids. For people between the ages of 25 and 44, the rise in opioid and heroin abuse has hit particularly hard.
So what explains why Americans cannot just say “no” to drugs? Why, given the alarming information about just “one hit” of heroin, crack cocaine, designer drugs, and meth, are people still willing to use these drugs? What are people looking for? What are they trying to escape? In some communities police and first responders are equipped with something called naloxone to treat emergency overdose calls. Even after bringing many users back from the brink of death, these same users immediately seek out the same drug.
Is something called nihilism sweeping across America? Does this explain so much of what is going on in America from the White House to rural Alabama to inner city Chicago? So what is nihilism? It is the belief that everyone’s values are without merit and that there is no such thing as “the truth.” Nihilists are very pessimistic about everything– they believe in nothing, they have no loyalties, no purpose, other than the impulse to destroy. Nihilists want to “burn it all down” because they have no hope for happiness anyway. They rejoice in chaos and confusion as they reject all rational thought claiming that their world is the only rational world. Nihilists live inside their own heads. Nihilists do not see a reason to hope for a better world or a brighter future for themselves or anyone else. It is easy for nihilists to hate everyone, especially their own lives. Turning to mind altering drugs to escape reality is the number one go-to for nihilists. The second go-to is to hate everyone, especially the so called “establishment.” One has to wonder if America has become a nihilist nation headed by a nihilist in the Oval Office whose every word spews forth anger and venom and the worship of chaos.
Could nihilism explain most of what is now happening in America—the spewing of hateful rhetoric and “fake news,” coupled with government propaganda designed to saturate our lives with the message that everything rational must be rejected as not worthy of belief? What is the end game of nihilism? Could it be the end of humanity? Could it be that extreme nihilism is the first step toward “total devastation” because, after all, “what do you have to lose?” When rural Alabama white people are using meth at an alarming rate is this a sign of nihilism—a form of disgust with their own sorry lot in life—leading to their willingness to destroy themselves? When inner city black kids shoot and kill without regard for human life– is this also a sign of nihilism—a form of self-hatred and disgust with lives they see as hopelessly trapped and no way out? What about the increasing number of “middle Americans” who are turning to drugs just to get through the day? Is this a sign that they feel lost and adrift, without any core values or guiding principles that make their lives worthwhile? Has America become a nation of nihilists? Could the epidemic of drug use be the “canary in the coal mine” signaling even worse death and destruction to come?
Copyright 2017 – L. Arthalia Cravin. All rights Reserved. No part of this commentary may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the author.