Zombies exist. They are amongst us right now. I’m not talking about the typical Hollywood portrayal of Zombies, the “rise from the grave swarms of the living dead that come for our brains” type.
Dictionary.com lists the definition of zombies as:
1. (In voodoo)
a. The body of a dead person given the semblance of life, but mute and will-less, by a supernatural force, usually for some evil purpose.
b. The supernatural force itself.
a. A Person whose behavior or responses are wooden, listless, or seemingly rote; automaton.
b. An eccentric or peculiar person.
3. A snake god worshiped in West Indian and Brazilian religious practices of African origin.
4. A tall drink made typically with several kinds of rum, citrus juice, and often apricot liqueur.
5. Canadian Slang. An army conscript assigned to home defense during World War II.
The “zombies” I speak of, are roaming among us here in Appalachia, they’re adding to their ranks every day. They’re not coming for our brains as usually portrayed in Hollywood; they’re coming for our posessions. Anything they can get their hands on to make a quick buck. They are also stealing away our moms and dads, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, pulling them directly into their ranks. They are destroying families. They are destroying communities. They are destroying the future. These “zombies” have a strong network. They are hard to defend against.
I use the descriptor of zombies, because they live and motivate for one thing, that next high. They are lost in themselves, they cannot think rationally, not while under the control of a powerful mind altering addiction. They can be extremely dangerous. These “zombies” are the many people who are lost to prescription drug abuse. Not all are lost, some will get clean, some will stay clean, but I’m sad to say the majority are probably lost.
We are ground zero in the epidemic of prescription drug abuse.
These “zombies” are a generation lost. Aspirations, talent, dreams, all out the window. We all know how it ends. Overdoses, murdered over a deal gone bad, beaten to death by other “zombies” over their stash, or to be specific, like what happened recently, dying in a gun battle and murdering police officers.
I would make a good bet that many of us have someone or know someone in our family or circle of friends that has been personally affected by this epidemic.
Some Prescription drug abuse facts:
In 2008, 15.2 million Americans 12 years of age or older had used a prescription drug non-medically within the past year.
In 2008, 234.1 billion dollars was spent on prescription drugs – Double the amount spent in 1999.
From 2004 to 2008, the estimated number of emergency department visits linked to the nonmedical use of prescription pain relievers rose from 144,644 visits to 305,885 visits a year.
Nationally, only 2.8% of admissions to treatment were for dependence on opiates, but in West Virginia they accounted for 12.2% of admissions.
33.9 million retail prescription drugs were filled in West Virginia in 2008.
Average per capita prescription drugs filled: WV: 18.7, US: 12
This epidemic is out of hand. I can’t tell you why this issue is so prevalent; I can only guess that it mostly stems from socioeconomic reasons, although I think an “ease of access” issue plays a larger role in this area. I am not a social worker nor do I have any expertise in this area. What I do know is that much more definitely needs to be done.
Drug use has always been around, and will always be around, but I don’t think that at any time in the past, at least the recent past, that drugs have been so cheap, and easy to get.
We have an additional front to battle in this war, and that is the system. The system put in place to pull people out of abject poverty is being played from all angles. Corrupt doctors, pill mills, and addicts are gaming the system.
I don’t have any big answers. I wish someone did. I know of too many families this has so adversely affected including mine. Maybe if we all just do a little, we can get the ball rolling in the right direction. We all can do little things to help with this situation such as;
If you see something suspicious, don’t be afraid to let the proper authorities know.
If you know someone who is fighting with addiction, always have information with you to point them in the right direction. (Both spiritual and professional help)
Properly dispose of any of your own prescription medication.
Always try your best to keep tabs on what your children, and if possible, their friends are doing.
Contact your representatives and authorities to prosecute those who operate “pill mills” to the highest extent allowed and to strengthen and enact new laws.
And I know that this is a loaded issue, but maybe it is time we start pushing for drug testing for those who receive social assistance.