American Splendor: How Drug Abuse Is Leveling the Playing Field
There’s an excellent article in The New York Times about a football coach in Madison, Indiana, and his efforts to protect students from the ravages of drugs. It talks about how the students’ lives were personally affected by the crisis – everyone knew someone who was addicted, or had overdosed, or was in and out of jail – and what Coach Patric Morrison is trying to do to save their lives.
It’s an incredibly touching and powerful piece (which you can find here), but Coach Morrison isn’t what caught our attention. It was the town of Madison’s unique problem with suicide that grabbed us.
Madison is in Jefferson County, Indiana, with a population of around 32,000 people. (Madison is the largest town.) As the Times reports, in 2016, Madison’s suicide rate was 41.8 per 100,000 people – the highest in Indiana, and twice the state average. It’s 3.2 times higher than the national average. Between February and November of 2017, 15 suicides were confirmed. That number is assumed to be higher if you count overdoses.
Why Madison matters to all of us
Madison is a small town; about 12,000 people live there. It’s renowned for its antiques and its artisan-friendly environment, and the National Park Service has a page dedicated to its architecture. The Times reports that it’s won awards for its beauty, including Best Main Street. It seems like a perfect place to live.
It also sits “at the center of a drug-trafficking triangle connecting Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Louisville. It is battling life-or-death problems.” While the Times focuses on opioids, WKMNews responded by reissuing an interview done in 2017 about the area’s long-term problems with methamphetamines. The Indy Star has developed a section of their paper called State of Addiction: Confronting Indiana’s opioid crisis, where all of the reporting on the crisis throughout the state can be found.
So why does Madison matter?
Because it’s not a big city. Because it’s not a rural community (though Jefferson County seems to be). Because it’s not anywhere near a border or an ocean.
Madison matters because it is the perfect example of how these drugs level the playing field. So often, when we look at pictures of the opioid crisis, or when we listen to the news, we hear about drugs affecting rural or “rust belt” areas. Madison isn’t really like that (though a significant portion of its population works in manufacturing). There are jobs in Madison, and they cater to a more upscale community: artisans, antiquers, travelers.
What we want to show is that the drug problems in this country aren’t limited to “those areas,” whatever people claim “those areas” are. They affect people in every state, in every demographic, and at every economic level. The stereotypical image of a drug user is no longer relevant; it’s your neighbor, your banker, your teacher’s son, your kid’s best friend. Opioids are like like ivy: once they take root in a place, their tendrils spread far and wide.
We must all pay close attention to what’s happening in Madison, because it’s happening everywhere. We see it here in our own beautiful corner of the world. That is why we work so hard to help our residents become empowered to make good decisions about their futures. Together, we will beat this crisis, and take back control of our lives.
At Little Creek Lodge, we offer comprehensive addiction recovery services for young men who have already completed their detox program. Our family owned and operated facility is located in Northeastern Pennsylvania. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, you don’t have to face it alone. Please call 877-689-2644, or fill out our contact form to learn more about how we can help.