Heroin is a Beast, and that Beast has infiltrated every town and city in America. The Beast has come for America’s sons and daughters. The Beast is hunting for America’s fathers and mothers. And that Beast has only one mission, to bury as many Americans as possible. Last week, I sat down with journalist Brian Bradbury to try and bring some clarity to the insidious heroin epidemic confronting our nation.
Brian: How did this epidemic become the worst health crisis in America’s history.
Ritchie: That is a two-word answer: Corporate Greed. Big Pharma, specifically Purdue Pharma’s “wonder drug” OxyContin created this epidemic. They hide information from the FDA about their painkiller being the most addictive pill on the planet. When they were indicted and convicted in a Federal Court, Congress shut them down, but the damage was done. The market was rich with teenage athletes, young adults and soccer moms addicted to opioids. The Cartels capitalized, dropped their price per kilo, flooded the streets with a giant killer now cheaper than candy.
Brian: I read were almost 150 Americans are dying every day from an accidental overdose of opioids. Do you see an end in sight?
Ritchie. No. We haven’t begun. A recent study predicts we will lose between 500,000 to 750,000 people in the next ten years. In the Vietnam War, we lost approximately 55,000 Americans over 15 years. If we equate those figures to the current Heroin Epidemic, we are going to lose a Vietnam war every year for next ten years.
Brian: Why haven’t we been able to mobilize a true grass-root effort to combat the amount of death we see every day.
Ritchie: Simple. Everybody wants to be the pitcher. I have tried to unify groups and received tremendous push-back. Ohio, West Virginia, Maine, New Hampshire and many other states are being devastated by the collateral damage of death. But we just cannot seem to mount a joint force and stand together as one. Forget the federal government or the media. The government is at a stand-still reeling with internal issues, and the media is too busy trying to bring down Trump.
Brian: Really? Don’t you need the government behind you?
Ritchie: No. Congress is a society of rich white men who continually resist a new tactical approach to this epidemic. We need to throw out the rules and make a plan of attack that works. The only way we can win here is if we dare to change and accept our social responsibility. One of my goals for the future is to initiate a Heroin Recovery Association. I want to model it after the NRA. Get people to join and hire a lobbyist. Look the NRA is the most powerful lobbyist in the country. Congress will listen if we unite.
Brian: What is the roadblock to slowing down this epidemic.
Ritchie: Stigma. To most, opioid addiction is a moral issue. People say, “I am not forcing them to stick a needle in their arm. Why should I pay for their recovery?” Well, because we are Americans and we should help those that are weaker or not as blessed as we are. This epidemic shadows the AIDS Epidemic of the 80s. Men were having sex with men. Again, to most, that was a moral issue as well.
Brian: What can we do to break through that thinking and shatter the stigma associated with addiction.
I have several initiatives in development. One I am working with a lobbyist firm from DC on creating a documentary film about this epidemic. A film that will mirror the docu-drama AND THE BAND PLAYED ON. That film was credited for shattering the negative thinking about HIV infection and ultimately put an end to that epidemic. Another, I’ve written a short film that recreates the famous classroom scene from the movie PAY IT FORWARD. I am going to shoot it next month and use the 5-minute film as a tool to create funds that will allow me to give my new book; I AM A HEROIN ADDICT away free. It’s a book of hope. If I can recover from a ten-bag-a-day heroin addiction, you can too.
Brian: Earlier, you talked about heroin activist groups that don’t seem united.
Ritchie: Hey, our number one enemy is ourselves. There are Heroin Facebook Groups with 25,000 up to 190,000 members. Several weeks ago, I wrote a post on the wall of a large group offering my book; I AM A HEROIN ADDICT free through Amazon Unlimited. FREE. They took it down and told me that I could not promote myself. Last week, I posted the most recent Amazon review of my book in my Facebook group, I Am A Heroin Addict and shared on the wall of a dozen other groups I am associated with. It was a mother who recommended the book to any parent who is trying to understand their child’s addiction. Several refused to make the post public.
Brian: Sum it up for us. Why are we losing our battle with opioids?
Ritchie: Easy. One word: Unity. If we do not join together as one, we will lose a Vietnam War every year for next ten years.
Ritchie Farrell is the author of I am a Heroin Addict.
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.