A Punitive Article About Substance Use Disorders Misunderstands the Author's Message. But Is This Just the Tip of the Iceberg?
"@nytimes changed the headline on this story in the Sunday paper, but it's still awful." -- Maia Szalavitz, author.
The editor lacks empathy or understanding of individuals with substance use disorders. I agree that the headline is awful and inaccurate.
But for me there is a greater concern:
Are We a Nation Suffering From Post Traumatic Stress? Has Trauma in the U.S. Caused Increased Substance Use and Impaired the Country's Judgment?
I am seeing less empathy, more bigotry and violence against misunderstood groups based on mental illness, race, class, sexual orientation, gender, religion and culture in general.Research has shown a link between PTSD and increased substance use (i.e. the rising substance use concerns in Japan since the tsunami, earthquakes, nuclear plant damage, etc.).
I am saddened by the growing anger, contempt and intolerance of those who are different in this country. To see the support of Donald Trump in this country is a sad testament about the susceptibility of a terrorized, traumatized people preyed upon by a would-be leader who is a lightening rod of fear and hatred; a man who lacks understanding of the Constitution, yet has the support of so many angry Americans.
When we see the unimaginable and horrendous terror of beheadings, mass shootings, bombings and other murderous events against innocent young children as well as adults, we are traumatized, then re-traumatized again by the next violent episode that occurs. Is it any wonder that we face a growing opioid epidemic correlated with trauma in this country?
Oppression is on the rise against not only Americans with Substance Use Disorders and disabilities, but also against American values as a whole. This is trauma and Post Traumatic Stress on a grand scale in America (and throughout the western world).
Unfortunately, it comes as no shock that the New York Times is not immune. Author Maia Szalavitz has every right to be bothered by the stigma against people with substance use disorders who she writes about. The Times has lost its clarity and objectivity regarding this segment of the population.
But I believe this is a part of a greater response to terrorism that truly hits home. American values are being challenged.
In order to heal, the American people will need a harm reduction approach in legislature that supports empathy, understanding and unity for a traumatized nation in crisis.