View Mobile Site

Ask the Expert

Signal Photos


Tim Myers: Education not enough in war on drugs

Posted: October 20, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: October 20, 2012 2:00 a.m.

I took Vicodin once, and I didn’t like it.

After my first hernia surgery at age 42, the surgeon prescribed five Vicodin tablets for the post-surgical pain.

I took one on the first day and slept through the daylight hours. I took one on the second day and attempted to do some work and even watch TV, but found it impossible, losing the ability to even concentrate or focus for a moment.

I stopped taking the Vicodin, and so ended my first (and last) experience with opiates. Upon my second hernia operation (other side) six years later, I opted for prescription-strength Tylenol instead of the harder Vicodin.

Depending on with whom one speaks, the Santa Clarita Valley endured the tragedy of either its sixth or 12th untimely death of a 20-something of the year when Carlie Coulter, a rare young woman in this parade of horrors, died earlier this month.

The difference this time, besides the gender of Carlie, surrounded the fast and brutal reporting of the cause and circumstances of the death.

For those who follow local media, a crass and morbid joke arose over the past three years. Before Krissy McAfee, a courageous mother who told the Santa Clarita City Council about the death of her son from a heroin overdose on her driveway in March 2010, we heard nothing about the deaths of 20-somethings from “unknown” or “unconfirmed” circumstances.

Even after Krissy McAfee, the Sheriff’s Department and local media would publish oblique stories of death from unknown causes, awaiting forensic confirmation that never came.

The problem existed in the shadows of the community’s awareness, and one could claim blissful ignorance if not personally affected.

Cary Quashen, head of Action, the most high-profile local drug treatment center in the SCV, makes bold statements with grieving surviving family members by his side in the vein of “enough is enough” and the community “has buried too many young people” in the past several years.

His actions seem to intimate that some magical ignition of “awareness” will somehow cure all local ills, and perhaps all the ills of Southern California, since heroin reaches into all the middle-class and upper-middle-class communities of Los Angeles and Orange counties.

But I find the message more disheartening and discouraging. Nearly all the victims in the Santa Clarita Valley share a common chilling profile: All possessed supportive families and friends who sought to get them treatment and support their rehabilitation. These same families would obviously always communicate the dangers of drugs while the children grew up.

So what to do? Distraught parents and friends show up at City Council meetings in Santa Clarita and, recently, in Huntington Beach seeking governmental interdiction in supply, seeming to forget the abject failure of the “war on drugs” declared by President Richard M. Nixon in the early 1970s, and the decades-long emergence of the drug business with the most ingenious and effective multi-level marketing campaign in which several dealers stand ready to replace any one taken into custody for a relatively short period of time.

Others, like Quashen and Mayor Frank Ferry, advocate “education.” But I dare say that the general knowledge exists concerning the dangers and deadly nature of narcotics.

But what drives the addict? I cannot fathom it from my own (short) experience with opiates, since I did not like the way they made me feel.

Another chilling common element in local opiate deaths: Aimless young adults not currently engaged in higher education, meaningful employment or military service.

One hears constantly about the generational decline in the United States, whereby the succeeding generation expects to see an actual decline in the standard of living from its parents’ standard.

Does this aimlessness that welcomes the (what I found) numbing nature of opiates constitute the deadly fruits of this decline?

Is the difference between my experience and theirs so simple that it relates solely to the fact that I possessed other things I wanted to do that required a clear mind, even the simple enjoyment of a scripted television program, that I felt the opiates interfered with?

That would indeed constitute a true tragedy.

Tim Myers is a Valencia resident.



Most Popular Articles

There are no articles at this time.
Commenting not available.
Commenting is not available.


Powered By
Morris Technology
Please wait ...