From the Desk of Jim Bevell – Bringing and Keeping Addiction in the Media Forefront
The beauty of the internet as a public forum has truly elevated the idea of free speech to another level. As I see it, this cyber-medium is the last chance for individuals to seek out and deliver pure honesty without fear of censorship or editing, depending on where you choose to speak your truth. That being said, I would like to exorcise my right to be brutally honest and address a few issues that in my humble opinion are at the crux of our collective de-civilization.
Rather than cite historical evidence, let’s keep it current and use Michael Jackson as an example of how most human beings are more easily distracted than a baby with a shiny set of keys. Yes, Michael Jackson was one of the most talented entertainers to walk the earth but make no mistake, the last few times we discussed him, it was regarding his alleged inappropriate involvement with minors and how he had become a literal caricature of his former self. Now we are discussing his untimely passing and it is repulsive to me that only now the discussion turns to the role addiction played in his life and the lives of everyone around him. After the dust settles, we realize that much like millions of other humans, Michael Jackson was an addict just like the bum on the corner, your nephew or yourself. Regardless, he was an addict and if the people around him were the slightest bit honest, he would be moonwalking as we speak. Sadly, the media only covers this topic this thoroughly when it is a person of significant interest. Too bad this much attention wasn’t given to the union laborer or the school teacher when they overdosed…were their lives less important?
We see thousands of people each year with prescription drug addictions; people from all walks of life. Here’s the news-flash – don’t be surprised if Grandma is one of them since we are starting to see more and more cases of prescription drug abuse among the geriatric population. Some estimates out there suggest that the percentage of untreated alcoholics/addicts over the age of 60 are misusing prescription medication is as high as 10% – when was the last time you heard Nancy Grace or Anderson Cooper talk about that? A quick drive around South Florida, where I live, and you will pass several “pain clinics” where prescriptions for heavy narcotics like oxycontin and methadone are freely distributed in large quantities like candy. A quick glance at the parking lot will reveal quite a few out-of-state license plates from as far away as West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Seems like news to me but this topic isn’t one Larry King is on the hustle to cover.
Of the millions, I have personally seen 100’s of deaths in my 18-year career, people I worked with personally, who speaks for them? Yet it seems that everyone wants to speak on behalf of Michael Jackson. Honestly, I will take the publicity any way I can get it and anything that will bring this epidemic to the forefront and create some pressure for change is great as far as I’m concerned. I hope to be proven wrong one day, but I believe that this unnatural “addiction” to Michael Jackson coverage is a sad reflection of our planet’s shallow, gullible and lazy collective consciousness. We have millions of people locked up for crimes committed while under the influence of narcotics or struggling to obtain more drugs and we spend billions of dollars to keep them locked up; however, law enforcement has done very little to decrease the demand for drugs (treatment and social reform).
In the spirit of brutal honesty, let me put this out there – the powers-that-be are frequently individuals who get very rich and have become very powerful as a result of the drug trade and frankly, they don’t want to see this problem go away. That would mean decreased revenue. So in typical American good ol’ boy fashion, we keep throwing money at the problem and give pittance to the solution. It is simple economics, if there is no demand then there is no profit in supply, if there is no profit in supply – people will stop manufacturing and distributing…including the biggest drug dealers of all Phizer, Squibb et al.
So why don’t we start working on decreasing the demand by providing adequate treatment for the disease of addiction? Why does it take the death of Michael Jackson for us to even discuss it? And why in true American fashion will we beat it to death for a month and then be distracted by the next shiny thing and forget all about it? I don’t know how to answer those questions but I am one person who is willing to keep the disease of addiction relevant – long after the death of the next celebrity. If I can get one other person to affect another, and so on, things will change. Maybe Granma can’t do the moonwalk, but she could be an addict and there is no reason why she shouldn’t receive this much attention. Let’s keep things in perspective people – we are all dying of addiction on some level so try not to be so easily distracted!