As we have covered here repeatedly, there has been a steady stream of very bad headlines making the rounds dealing with the rising number of overdose deaths in the United States. The lion’s share of these fatal events these days involve fentanyl, leading us to point the finger of blame at the crisis on our southern border and the drug cartels that have been feeding that pipeline with enough of the deadly drug to literally kill everyone in the country. That’s certainly true and we shouldn’t lose sight of the issue. But under the surface, there is a second part of that formula. We wouldn’t be seeing all of these deaths if there wasn’t a market for powerful illegal drugs in America. There certainly is and it’s growing. In fact, we are now seeing an all-time record in terms of drug use and addiction. In a chilling op-ed from Seth Leibsohn at the Washington Times, we learn that 14.3% of America’s adult population now regularly uses illegal and dangerous drugs.

A perfectly inhumane storm of carelessness, profit and lawlessness was bringing us back to near-1979 use levels. Illegal and dangerous drug use began creeping up again. And the death toll came as well. When we hit our low-water mark of drug use in 1992, drug poisoning deaths amounted to just over 5,000 a year in this country. Today, they are over 106,000.

So, while our country’s population grew by just under one-third since 1992, drug poisoning deaths increased by over 2,000%. To sense the scale, consider the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington. There are about 58,000 names on that wall, and it took some 16 years to amass those souls that constitute that long, dark wall. At the rate we are now going, we are nearly doubling in death (or the need for two walls) every year what that sad wall represents from over the course of 16 years.

As Seth reminds us, the previous record for drug use was recorded in 1979. It was the trailing edge of the “summer of love” generation when it seemed like everyone was getting high. But the country’s response, while a bit late in arriving, was effective. The government began cracking down on dealers in what liberals today derisively refer to as the “war on drugs.” Simultaneously, new and innovative treatment programs were launched. And drug dealers were locked up for lengthy stays in prison.

There seemed to be a largely agreed-upon consensus. Drug abuse was bad and addiction was a serious problem requiring treatment, behind bars if need be. Dealers were evil people who profited from the misery and death of others. And action by both the public and the government was required.

Now we have exceeded those drug abuse levels from the seventies once again, but the response has been quite different. We see municipal governments setting up “safe injection sites” around our cities, basically encouraging people to make use of them. Police are expected to treat the open-air drug market customers as “patients” rather than criminals. Drug abuse is no longer seen as criminal activity and the users are not to be subjected to the racist, oppressive treatment that the police have in store.

We still pretend to at least treat the dealers as serious criminals and some people still go to jail for that. But at the same time, our government leaves the southern border almost entirely open, knowing full well that the flood of fentanyl and other opioids that originate in China continues to pour into the nation every day. With all of that in mind, should we really be shocked that we’re setting records for people dying in the quest to get high? These are “records” nobody wanted to see broken, yet here we are.

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