To the editor,
Albeit likely on a subconscious level, human beings can actually be perceived and treated as though they’re disposable and, by extension, their suffering is somehow less worthy of external concern, even in democratic and relatively civilized nations. (It’s something similar to how human smugglers perceive their cargo when choosing that most immoral line of business.)
I used to be one of those who, while sympathetic, would look down on those who’d “allowed” themselves to become addicted to alcohol and illicit drugs. However, upon learning that serious life trauma, notably adverse childhood experiences, is very often behind the addict’s debilitating addiction, I began to understand ball-and-chain self-medicating: The greater the drug-induced euphoria or escape one attains from its use, the more one wants to repeat the experience; and the more intolerable one finds their sober reality, the more pleasurable that escape should be perceived.
By extension, the greater one’s mental pain or trauma while sober, the greater the need for escape from reality, thus the more addictive the euphoric escape-form will likely be.
The lasting mental pain resulting from trauma is very formidable yet invisibly confined to inside one’s head. It is solitarily suffered, unlike an openly visible physical disability or condition, which tends to elicit sympathy/empathy from others. It can make every day a mental ordeal, unless the turmoil is treated with some form of medicating, either prescribed or illicit.
The preconceived erroneous notion that addicts are simply weak-willed and/or have committed a moral crime is, fortunately, gradually diminishing. Also, we now know that Western pharmaceutical corporations intentionally pushed their very addictive and profitable opiates (the real moral crime?) for which they got off relatively lightly, considering the resulting immense suffering and overdose death numbers.
In this world, a large number of people, however precious their lives, can atrociously be considered disposable. Then those people may begin perceiving themselves as worthless and consume their substances more haphazardously.
While the cruel devaluation of them as human beings, though perhaps on a subconscious level, is essentially based on their self-medicating, a somewhat similar inhuman(e) devaluation is also observable in external perceptions/attitudes (typically by the Western world) toward the daily civilian lives lost in protractedly devastating war zones and famine-stricken nations. The worth of such life will be measured by its overabundance and/or the protracted conditions under which it suffers and/or even its lack of “productivity.”
No one — including the chronically self-medicating — should ever be considered disposable.
Frank Sterle Jr.,
White Rock, B.C.