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Sunday, August 20, 2017

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

I didn’t vote for you. You see, I was born with a brain injury. Doctors at Children’s Hospital in Boston told my parents I would never be able to walk normally.

Young children are mean. As a young boy, insults, and laughs became a daily ritual. When I walked into a classroom, a restaurant, or down a street, people didn’t look into my eyes. They always looked down as I limped awkwardly along.

But I overcame and became a varsity athlete at a prep school outside of Boston. As a teenager, I grew strong, and anybody that made fun of my limp or my awkward gate became irrelevant.

Frankly, Mr. President, the day you mocked a disabled reporter should have been the end of your presidential candidacy.

That said, I for one am all for giving you a chance to “Make America Great Again.” Mr. President, I implore you to focus more of your efforts on the heroin epidemic that is crushing the American dream in every state in the Union.

I understand that the stigma and moral issues of heroin addiction run deep. Today’s heroin epidemic parallels the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s. The old school philosophy back then was, “Men having sex with men. It’s not natural. That’s God’s punishment.”

Although the diction has changed, the sentiment remains constant today. “I didn’t force them to stick a needle of heroin into their arm. Why should I be forced to pay for their rehabilitation?”

But you see, we are not just junkies, Mr. President. I am three decades clean, have won the prestigious du-Pont-Columbia as a journalist, written a bestseller, became a WGA screenwriter and worked on The Fighter, a feature film that won two Academy Awards.

I have spoken to organizations and recovery centers all across America. And what amazed me the most were the rooms were filled with middle-class kids whose fathers were chief’s of police, firefighters, teachers, lawyers, and doctors.

Heroin addiction is insidious: in several states across this country, young women are selling themselves as sex-slaves to maintain their daily heroin habit.

Just recently, NPR did a radio program about heroin addicts who are purposely committing crimes, so they’ll be arrested and locked up to get the treatment they need.

Treatment is just not available on the streets because there aren’t any beds available in recovery centers. The medical community could never have prepared for the onslaught of heroin in their neighborhoods.

Mr. President, this epidemic was given birth by Purdue Pharma and their owners, the Sackler family. In fact, the Sacklers became known as the Godfathers of OxyContin and rang in at number 19 on last year’s Forbes annual list of America’s richest families.

Through Purdue Pharma, the Sackler family acquired a fortune with the blood of young Americans. Although a judge convicted Purdue Pharma’s top executives in Federal Court of knowingly and willfully misleading consumers, unfortunately, your old friend Rudy Giuliani’s law firm got them off with a sweetheart deal.

As President of the United States, you have an opportunity to save countless lives. Please consider creating a “sin tax” similar to the cigarette and alcohol tax levied by several states. If big Pharma wants to do business on the backs of the American consumers suffering from chronic pain, force them to pay a “recovery tax.”

Please consider creating a work program for heroin addicts that want help. A simple, we’ll pay for your thirty-day recovery hospital and continued care, and you’ll work cleaning up roads or run down areas of your community to pay for it.

Finally, why not designate a line on the IRS tax forms for people to donate a dollar or more to help put an end to the suffering brought on by the countless deaths of promising young men and woman.

Mr. President, you have a daunting task in front of you. But you can’t “Make America Great Again” by sitting back and watching 4,380 Americans die every month from an accidental overdose of heroin. That’s right, 144 people a day die from an accidental overdose of opioids.

I have an 11-year-old son who is on the brink of growing up in a society that will be the most dangerous environment in America’s history. You see, Mr. Trump, not since your predecessor, Lyndon Johnson, has the youth of America been more in jeopardy.

Think about it; not since the Vietnam War has a generation been at greater risk to die between the ages of 18 to 25. Please help them. An entire generation is on the verge of being wiped out.

Follow Ritchie Farrell on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ritchiefarrell1

Need help with substance abuse or mental health issues? In the U.S., call 800-662-HELP (4357) for the SAMHSA National Helpline.

 

Ritchie Farrell is the author of I AM A HEROIN ADDICT.

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