Help Our Children past Their “Visions of The Things to Be”
There was a very disturbing story last Sunday night on CBS’s 60 Minutes entitled “Heroin epidemic kills at least 23 Ohioans each week”. Correspondent Bill Whitaker reports, Its one of the biggest problems in America today: the out-of-control heroin epidemic. It’s happening all over the country and forcing authorities to decide whether heroin should be treated as a medical or a legal problem.
Whitaker reports on too many stories like that of Christy and Wayne Campbell who’s son Tyler was a star high school and college football player — and a heroin addict. He was in and out of rehab three times — short rehabs because most insurance companies limit the length of in-patient treatment.
Tyler’s mom, Christy sadly recalls how “the last one that he was in — was in there two weeks. And the insurance company wanted to release him.
Wayne Campbell: When he came home, there was– there was something obviously different. I mean, he, like, he got it.
Bill Whitaker: He was talking about the future–
Wayne Campbell: Yes, this–
Christy Campbell: Talking about the future–
Wayne Campbell: This is midnight. So we go to bed with the biggest sigh of relief that you could ever have. It’s over. “Tomorrow’s gonna be a great day.” But tomorrow never came. Tyler went up to his bedroom, shot up and overdosed.
At the New Beginnings rehab facility, Angie Pelfrey told us what happened to Tyler is not unusual.
Angie Pelfrey: They get to a point to where they’re not using. They go out and want to use maybe one more time– just one more hoorah. And it takes their life because they s– they go back to using the same amount that they did when they were ending the addiction.
Bill Whitaker: Their tolerance goes down after two weeks of rehab–
Angie Pelphrey: Right. Right.
Bill Whitaker: They go home, shoot up the same amount they were using before–
Angie Pelphrey: Of her– yes. And it’s taken their lives–
Bill Whitaker: And it’s now an overdose.
Angie Pelphrey: Right.
Sadly Whitaker told many more stories just like Tyler’s and they were all heartbreaking. These were not kids smoking some marijuana or getting high on some pills they lifted from their parent’s medicine cabinet. They were kids still living with their parents in nice homes, nice neighborhoods, going to nice schools. Yet, they became hard core junkies using heroin and getting addicted, so severely that it started to control their lives and ruin their futures.
After the 60 Minutes segment I was just taken aback. Even though I think I saw the episode earlier in the year, for some reason, watching it this time really struck me. Not just because I felt so sorry for the parents who all seemed so forlorn and perplexed by the whole situation but also because I was also perplexed. I thought back to when I graduated from high school in 1969, right in the middle of the hippie generation, and the Viet Nam war. How did I ever escape the fate all those Ohio kids have not?
It’s not like I didn’t partake of drugs. My alcohol consumption was “out of control” as early as 16 and 17 and my friends, with whom I liked to hang-out and drink, always knew somebody who had more substantial drugs to use whenever we wanted.
I was also enamored with what is now, I understand, called the “counterculture” movement, which was a leap to somewhere I’m still not sure where. The only thing I remember is it included lots of music and mind numbing substances. Hashish and marijuana were constantly around. It wasn’t uncommon to soak the hash in LSD, which everyone liked to remind us was “not addictive”, “It just might send your mind to a place of no return but no worries, you won’t be hooked!”
The Doors, with Jim Morrison was the rock band of choice. They and, especially Morrison, symbolized the entire we’re “the don’t mess with us generation”. We were not just a break from the past. We were in our own time dimension. We thought ourselves to be a bit crazy. We listened to The Doors night and day and generally under an infuence some kind or another.
Of course Dylan was the hero of the day. There was nobody cooler. He was like our pied-piper. We would have followed him anywhere and often “anywhere” was “The Village”.
Greenwich Village is on the west side of Lower Manhattan, New York City. I didn’t know this until just recently but apparently there’s now even a “Bob Dylan Greenwich Village Walking Tour”. I have to believe Bob stays as far away from the walking-tour as he initially did the Nobel Prize award ceremony.
When Bob eventually made it to Stockholm, he told his Nobel Prize audience , ”I got to wondering how exactly my songs related to literature,”…When I started writing my own songs, folk lingo was the only vocabulary that I knew, and I used it,” he said. “But I had something else as well. I had principles and sensibilities and an informed view of the world, and I’d had that for a while. I learned it all in grammar school: Don Quixote, Ivanhoe, Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver’s Travels, A Tale of Two Cities, all the rest.”
Of course you couldn’t be young
in the 60’s in New York and not go to “The Fillmore”. The Fillmore East on Second Avenue near East 6th Street, now called the East Village, only lasted three years from March 1968 to June 1971 but It featured some of the biggest acts in rock music at the time.
I personally got to see, of course, The Doors, but also David Clayton-Thomas, of Blood Sweat and Tears, on different dates. Other Filmore notables included: Jimi Hendrix, Cream, The Allman Brothers Band, the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and Led Zeppelin.
1969 was also the year I graduated from High School and after working on the railroad that summer to earn some really good money, I header off for D.C. and the Georgetown scene while many of my buddies headed off for Woodstock, in Bethel New York, northwest of The City, where once again the drugs and booze flowed like the rains that drenched them for most of the four days they garnered our envy.
And of course there was “The War”. Below is a picture from the Boston Globe of the 1969 peace rally held on the Boston Common and part of larger Vietnam Moratorium Day activities. I attended just after admission to college and realizing some guy, less experienced in life than me, was likely to “order” me to charge a machine gun where I was expected to maybe cut the throat of a guy also my age because some guys in Washington and other world capitals had a very tortured view of the world. After all, just like Bob, I had “principles and sensibilities and an informed view of the world ”. However, those issues in 1970 seem to pale in comparison to those faced by the Ohio families discussed in the 60 Minutes episode described above.
I tell this story not because I’ve reached a point in life where recalling the past is the best my days have to offer, even though sometimes it is, but rather because I see things in the young people, who appeared on 60 Minutes, I really didn’t see during all of my craziness at their age. While my friends and I were certainly a bit crazy in our youth most of us, and me in particular, as crazy as it may sound, really didn’t like the whole “out-of-control” thing you got with drugs. For the most part we could control alcohol and never let it get really too far but drugs, took you to a place you couldn’t control and generally didn’t want to be.
Psychologsts call “disinhibition” the process of losing your inhibitions with harmful or inappropriate results. It suggests lack of restraint, or an inability to control one or more areas of your life. According to the experts the trait can have major consequences, because it allows you to behave in ways you might not otherwise behave. That can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how you behave, how you feel about it during and afterwards, and the type of results you get.
Because disinhibition is an overreaction to something in the environment, and suggests an inability to control impulsive behavior, it has been associated with eating disorders, overweight and obesity, and poor health in general. Disinhibition is also associated with risky behaviors like gambling, hypersexuality, overdrinking alcohol, and general disregard for social conventions and expectations. Men and women with this trait tend to have lower self-esteem, are less physically active, and have poorer psychological health. That all sounds like a pretty accurate description of my life from around 1965 to 1971 but it also makes me recall the opening lines from the MASH theme song; “Suicide is Painless”;
“Through early morning fog I see Visions of the things to be , The pains that are withheld for me I realize and I can see
That suicide is painless It brings on many changes And I can take or leave it if I please”
Luckly, for me, and most of my friends , we could “take or leave” the life we lead for six or seven years but what I hear in the stories of the young people in Ohio, hooked on Heroin, is they can’t “take or leave it.” They appear to be suffering from much more than the “disinhibition” of youth. Whatever it is they can’t “take or leave” is causing them to prefer the “out of control” disinhibition that drug use offers. There’s something seriously wrong when Wayne Campbell, father of Tyler, says
“there was something obviously different. I mean, he, like, he got it. He was talking about the future–But tomorrow never came. Tyler went up to his bedroom, shot up and overdosed.”
Apparently Tyler couldn’t imagine a future vividly enough that it prevented him from “shooting-up” or even if he did, he didn’t see shooting up as risking his future. Compounding the problem is the fact that many young people are being introduced to addictive, pain killer, drugs because of something innocent like a sports injure even though there may be less addictive drugs available. (5)
This is a very hard realization for parents to face. I know from experience with our children. When children get to that point where nothing you say to them seems to matter. When they are in a place you can’t get to, there’s very little any parent and generally any medical professional can say.
There’s very little anybody can say but these children, our children, need somebody, they can hear, say the right thing at the right time. They need to be told that what they are going through, call it “disinhibition” or whatever, is going to pass. They need that kind of oversight and care constantly, because no one can tell when they will go to their bedroom, shoot up and overdose, just like Tyler.
That trip to the proverbial “bedroom” can take place anywhere and at anytime. Because parents may be the last ones children will hear America needs to be “the village” in which somebody can stand at our children’s bedroom doors and walk them to a place where they can allow things to pass. It’s a desperatley urgent matter for someone to be at the bedroom door, giving our children time for their “Vision of the things to be” to pass. ___________________________________________________________________
- Amid Opioid Crisis, Insurers Restrict Pricey, Less Addictive Painkillers — The New York Times
Originally published at neutec.wordpress.com on September 19, 2017.