From the NYT:
Fatal overdoses from prescription pain pills increased fivefold among women from 1999 to 2010, the most recent year for which the federal government has final data. The rate among men tripled over the same period, according to the analysis, which was conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Nobody cares about widespread drug abuse, its degradation of human nature, or even its death toll, as long as it is sanctioned by experts. It gives people uninterested in the well-being of their fellow group members the pass that they need to tune out of bodily, mental, and spiritual corruption in their own neighborhood. Hey, the doc signed off on it, didn't he? Well then whaddaya botherin' me about?
More women die from drug overdoses than from cervical cancer or car accidents. Four times as many died over the last decade from drug overdoses than from homicides.
How can the effects be so widespread -- are that many women in crippling pain? Obviously not. Remember that overdoses are only a small fraction of all users. What's the real reason so many are turning to chronic drug use?
Women addicts interviewed for this article said they believed that it had to do with the changing nature of American society. The rise of the single-parent household has thrust immense responsibility on women, who are both the primary breadwinner and parent. Some said they craved the numbness that drugs bring as a response to feeling overwhelmed by life’s responsibilities. Others said highs brought feelings of prettiness, strength and productiveness.
Utter horseshit -- the rise of the single-parent household has been going on for decades. And our mothers didn't hook themselves on numbing pills during the '80s, in the wake of the divorce epidemic. They had a better cure for the pressures of domestic life -- a life outside the fucking home. Meeting people at church, dining and dancing with a group of friends, losing themselves in the crowd while shopping at the mall, and hiring a babysitter so they could go out for the night with their husbands.
Chronic drug use to make a person feel normal (rather than to feel beyond-the-ordinary) is part of the broader web of dysfunction seen in cocooning times, and the only real solution is to extricate oneself from the socially deprived cloister of the domestic sphere.
Medically sanctioned drug addiction hasn't been this widespread since the previous wave during the mid-century. Then, as now, doctor-approved doping was seen as perhaps less than ideal but still necessary to treat the anxieties of listless mothers and housewives. Disingenuously qualifying that belief with "in some cases only, of course" did not stop "Mother's Little Helper" from invading the average American suburb.
This may be the most damning indictment of the so-called "family values revolution" of the 1990s. What kind of parent feels no compunction about drugging up their own children for showing normal signs of health, vigor, and energy, all while numbing themselves into oblivion to escape the joylessness of their hyper-regulated and over-sanitized households? After feeling some pity, we ought to feel disgust and anger at such defilement of the family, and at the shameless hypocrisy of trying to cloak it in "family values."
Fortunately, such debasement cannot continue forever -- little by little, people begin to grow wary of how widespread it is becoming, and reclaim their dignity by stopping it in their own household. Then they begin talking to each other, and perhaps a "national conversation" takes place, including famous figures confessing their problems, to make it OK for little people to acknowledge their problems too. After all of this grassroots consciousness-raising, people return to normal healthy living, at least until the next wave of cocooning takes over.