Back in the wild 1980s, when cocaine was as plentiful as the cash to buy it, I did my share of blow in the company of an artist who shall remain nameless. We were good friends and I accompanied the artist to countless exhibits here in New Jersey and in art galleries throughout SoHo – not to mention countless parties featuring small piles of top-shelf Peruvian flake on mirrored coffee tables, waiting to be cut into lines and snorted with silver straws. And snort I did, with the elite of the Manhattan art world (at one gathering I shared a few lines with the drummer from Debbie Harry’s band).
Eventually, I purchased the stuff on my own and in the course of a single evening, snorted an eight-ball of coke – heading for bed shortly before dawn. But I didn’t sleep. Oh no…I was way too wired to sleep and at one point I could see my own chest thumping up and down as my heart raced. I was certain I would die and dutifully made an Act of Contrition. Imagine my relief when, later that day, the effects of the drug wore off. I swore I would never touch it again and I never did. That was almost thirty years ago.
Fast forward to August, 2005: a head-on car collision left me with severe internal injuries and a busted femur (the most difficult bone in the human body to fracture). The surgeon hammered a perforated, stainless steel rod into the core of the bone and secured it at either end with a pair of stainless steel screws. For the first three days of my post-op recovery I was given a morphine drip during which time, needless to say, I was oblivious to pain and positively euphoric – this being the first time in my life I ever had morphine coursing through my veins. I cannot and will not attempt to describe the euphoria to those who never experienced the power of this narcotic, except to say that I could have contentedly watched my own mother being gang raped by the crew of an aircraft carrier.
Two weeks later, I was home for recovery and given a lengthy prescription for Oxycontin (to make the pain vanish) and Ambien (to lull me into the arms of Morpheus every evening). As my recovery progressed, the euphoria subsided quickly: my body adjusted itself to the daily dose of narcotics and the only thing I was aware of was the fact that there was no longer a feeling of intense pain.
Having had no previous experience with opiate derivatives, I determined that I was fit enough and sufficiently pain-free to return to work and abruptly stopped taking the pain killer. Twelve hours later I found myself in the waiting room of a nearby hospital – a sweat-drenched, and shivering wretch, grinding my teeth, rocking back and forth in my chair and enduring the indescribably horrifying sensation of feeling pain while not actually experiencing it physically. It was like being in a hell on earth where every minute felt as though it took hours to pass.
After a few exploratory questions, the attending physician realized at once what was happening: I was suffering from opiate withdrawal and he ordered the nurse to administer a minimal dose of morphine intravenously. In less than a minute, the horror was gone. I wasn’t high…rather, I felt perfectly normal. No more sweating or trembling or shivering. Everything was as it should be, except for the unfortunate fact that my body depended on a daily dose of an opiate narcotic to maintain its equilibrium.
He prescribed Suboxone for the glide path to an opiate-free life. It’s a very small, hexagonal-shaped, orange pill taken in progressively decreasing doses that effectively weans the body off of its dependence on opiates. It worked perfectly and in a couple of weeks, I was free – truly one of the lucky ones. The unlucky ones? Go to Google and search for pictures of long-term heroin and crack addicts.
I would always remember the horror of the withdrawal and I came away from the experience wondering why ANYONE would EVER want to make this shit legal, to the effect that one could purchase an eight ball of cocaine or a vial of morphine or a couple dozen Oxycontin tablets at the local bodega or even a dispensary licensed by the state.
I can understand a pot head arguing for the decriminalization or even complete legalization of marijuana – for the most part, pot heads are harmless idiots who account for 90% of the domestic sales of Doritos Nacho-Flavored Tortilla Chips and a sizable percentage of the demographic that has sworn eternal fealty to Rep. Ron Paul (an extreme libertarian masquerading as a Republican candidate in the 2012 presidential race), who favors the legalization of marijuana. However, Rep. Paul – who happens to be a physician – also favors the blanket legalization of ALL drugs, including heroin, a synthetic variant of morphine that is several orders of magnitude more powerfully addictive than morphine.
Think about that for a moment: Ron Paul – an ardently pro-life physician who ostensibly took the Hippocratic Oath – supports the blanket legalization of powerful narcotic drugs guaranteed to destroy countless lives.
Here is a transliterated excerpt from the original Oath:
I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone.
I will not give a lethal drug to anyone if I am asked, nor will I advise such a plan; and similarly I will not give a woman a pessary to cause an abortion. (emphasis added)
Obviously Dr. Paul – like most academic libertarians (and academic Progressives) – dwells in the ivory tower of theory, where everything is either black or white and works out perfectly on paper – with no muss, no fuss, and no dead bodies floating in the mill pond of a perfectly rational world where every man is an island of enlightened self-interest.
Although I cannot pronounce such with ontological certitude, I am willing to bet a week’s wage that Dr. Paul never endured the nightmare of a physical dependence on narcotics or the horror of withdrawal. As an obstetrician, he may never have had to treat a patient – much less a pregnant one – addicted to narcotics.
Then again, perhaps he had that opportunity. If so, then I cannot comprehend how he can reconcile a life dedicated to healing the sick, suffering and wounded with a political agenda that would facilitate that much more sickness and suffering.
“Ah,” the dutiful Ronzombie Paulbot responds, “but someone determined to hook themselves on smack will do so whether it’s legal or not. Besides, think of the tax revenue that can be raised and the money saved by ending the war on drugs.”
I suppose if a national sales tax were enacted to replace the progressive income tax, the revenue angle might have some merit. Otherwise, we’re talking about a further tax burden that appears to fly in the face of an agenda that eschews additional taxes.
That said, the argument from inevitability falls flat in the face of reality: but for the heavy government regulation of narcotics and their illegality outside of legitimate medical use coupled with the difficulty and danger inherent in any effort to obtain them illegally, countless numbers of former addicts and those prone to addiction would be suffering and dying today. You see, for many the only thing standing between them and a life of indescribable misery is…the law.
Dr. Paul would do well to avail himself of feedback from former drug addicts and those who suffered or presently suffer from a physical dependence when it comes to the wisdom of legalizing narcotic drugs: if he held his breath, he would pass out before any of them said it was a good idea. I count myself among them: it’s a suicidal idea – much like his foreign policy agenda.
As a physician who is ostensibly dedicated to the preservation of human health and human life, Dr. Paul would do well to take the Hippocratic Oath if he has not already done so. On the other hand, if he has done so, then he ought to hang his head in shame as a hypocrite whose political agenda trumps an oath to do no harm.