Personal Tragedy Becomes National Tragedy: We Can’t Work Because We’re Addicted

“The Columbiana Boiler Company [in Youngstown, Ohio] forgoes roughly $200,000 worth of orders each quarter because workers can’t pass drug screenings.”

The New York Times, as reported in The Seattle Times, July 30, 2017

For several years, we’ve read about the opioid epidemic, the drug abuse that kills young people in unprecedented numbers, especially in states like Ohio and West Virginia. Drug users have so increased in number that large segments of the young adult population cannot qualify for good jobs.

Working class jobs, we read, are disappearing. Yet, available jobs are going unfilled, because “too many applicants—nearly half, in some cases—fail a drug test.”

The risk with drug abusers is the higher possibility of accidents related to their addiction. Accidents may result in fellow workers being killed and maimed. The company cannot hire them. It loses work to foreign companies because those countries have a better labor pool, apparently with less drug abuse.

States now rush to pass laws legalizing cannabis because pot has become a part of the culture. The reasons behind legalization are understandable. Law enforcement officers are stretched thin to fight opioid use, much less cannabis.

Yet cannabis also interferes with a worker’s ability to produce. Why did pot suddenly come on the scene? Why did Americans need a new pleasure drug?

Communal drinking has been around since grapes were first fermented. But today’s drinking has gone beyond a few beers around a television while watching a football game. It’s become more than enjoying a satisfying wine to enhance a meal.

Party goers now drink in order to get drunk. Unlike countries such as Great Britain, where the public takes more seriously the ban against driving under the influence, car-dependent Americans think nothing of driving away inebriated from the bar or the party, their judgement seriously impaired.

Why do we feel such a need for that which destroys us? It’s a question we should all be asking.

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