September 1st, 2016

mike mcIntyre sound of ideas wcpn cleveland public radio

The BBC sent writer Linda Pressly to Northeast Ohio to report on the long-term opioid/heroin problem in the former colonies. The headline set me off: Smack In the suburbs. Like so many other social problems that only become problems when they affect the white suburbs, the current epidemic has been a problem for decades. (My own extended-family experience goes back decades.)

To their credit, the people at WCPN are not new to this story, but the BBC’s hanging the story on the suburbs tag makes me angry because of the tunnel vision behind the piece.

This is how Pressly begins:

The US is in the throes of a heroin and opioid epidemic—drug overdose has become the leading cause of accidental death, overtaking traffic accidents.

It is a health crisis with tentacles reaching across the social spectrum. Lorain County, in the state of Ohio, is mostly suburban and middle-class, with a large rural hinterland.

Its population is only 305,000 but for the last three years, the number of fatal opiate overdoses has hovered at around 65. This year it only took six months to reach that figure.

Avon Lake is the county’s wealthiest community—an upmarket [we would say upscale, JH] suburb of the city of Cleveland. Here, on the shores of Lake Erie, the scourge of opiates—prescription pills and street heroin—is tearing at the fabric of a tightly-knit neighbourhood.

Anyone paying attention (and paying attention is a real problem for us) would have seen the problem coming. Until recently we even dismissed the rising tsunami with the throwaway tag of Hillbilly Heroin (yeah white people were dying, but they were poor white trash so they didn’t count).

Sadly, until a scourge strikes White Middle Class Suburban Man, we all too often can’t be bothered.

Welcome to our nightmare.

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