Inside view of the opioid crisis by former White House staffer Hampton, who was an opioid user for 10 years and is now a recovery advocate.
“If you do not have substance use disorder,” writes the author, “you can be certain that at least one person you know does.” The math is likely given the millions of people who are addicted to opioids or are related to those unfortunates. The story is common: Hampton suffered an ankle injury, was prescribed Dilaudid, and came back for second helpings on a prescription from one doctor, and then another, who was glad to help. This opens onto a tale involving a pharmaceutical industry that fudged numbers, sent out legions of salespeople to assure doctors that their prescriptions would be safe, and then reaped vast profits. Following Beth Macy and other observers, Hampton notes that the results have been devastating in small communities. Upon hitting his own bottom, he fell into the orbit of advocate/activist Greg Williams, founder of a recovery group called Facing Addiction that aimed to see that “people like me were treated like human beings, with equal opportunities and equal rights as everyone else.” With a background in politics and time spent as a presidential staffer, Hampton has a political take on parts of FA’s advocacy. He urges, for instance, that voters be sure that their elected representatives understand how addiction and recovery work, that they’re not wholly implicated in what he calls the system of “medically sanctioned mass murder” promoted by drug manufacturers, and that they uphold Eighth Amendment rights so that prisons cannot withhold treatment from jailed addicts: “No more cages, solitary confinement, and zero recovery.” Moreover, Hampton calls for a rethinking of recovery programs generally to step away from the 28-day model and instead focus on the long term, with a five-year plan of inpatient treatment, outpatient support, and adequate social and legal protections for addicted people.
A solid contribution to the debate surrounding not just the facts of drug addiction, but also the larger implications, societal, political, and economic.