Drug Overdose–One More Sad WV Title

2 Dec

Recently the news carried the flash that West Virginia is first in the country in death by drug overdose, a new distinction to add to First in Toothlessness title. I wonder if there is a connection. Maybe not directly, but some of the conditions that created the first title may have contributed to the new one.
Poverty, for example, and its companion, hopelessness and depression.. Where jobs are
few and drugs are all too available, it’s not surprising that some people seek the Out of drug abuse. Probably most of the overdoses are not deliberate suicide (who knows?), but they may be an attempt to escape miserable reality. Kentucky, interestingly, which was always either first or second in toothlessness, when West Virginia was always the other one, is Number 3 in death by drug overdose.
Pain may be another “pre-existing condition.” In an earlier day, moonshine was the accepted Appalachian painkiller for mining injuries and other pain resulting from a hardscrabble life. After the end of Prohibition, beer and booze somewhat replaced moonshine. A number of deaths probably resulted from one or another of the three, but the alcohol effect may not have been as death-dealing as today’s drugs. A good sleep and strong coffee might have brought a person back to reality. Today’s drugs are more lethal, and the sleep that they induce is all too often permanent.
Maybe one big difference is the profit incentive, the mark-up that drug dealers and unethical medical, pharmaceutical, and other health care personnel get from providing drugs to people in pain. It exceeds by far what the moonshiner or the bar owner might expect to get from his client.
In any case, this is one title that both West Virginia and Kentucky would like to lose.


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