America’s slow-moving disasters are driven by addiction

We’re less than 20 years into the new century — 19 to be exact — and yet sometimes it feels like America is suddenly beset by a stunning array of terrifying social problems.

Collapsing families, idle men — millions of them — rising suicide rates, declining life expectancy … these are not small things. They are big society-wide trends, and on some days, they seem intractable.

What’s causing them? Well, it is complicated. But there is at least one thing that all of these slow-moving disasters have in common. They are all, to some extent, driven by addiction.
Nobody wants to say it out loud, but an awful lot of Americans are not in their right minds a lot of the time. They’re hooked on something. You’ve seen the stats. They’re grimly familiar at this point. They tell part of the story.

America loses more than 70,000 people every year from drug ODs. The death rate from overdoses has tripled in the last two decades, and it is driven by an explosion in opioid abuse. You know all of that.

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But it’s not just fentanyl that’s killing Americans. Abuse of more traditional drugs is also rising. For example, the death rate from cocaine overdoses has risen by more than 100 percent since 2003. And of course, there’s alcohol, which is, and will always be, most likely the most abused drug in the West. Many thousands of Americans will die just this year from the cumulative effects of beer.

So why is this happening? And what can we do about it? Well, a lot of people have thought about this for a long time. And the truth is, nobody is really sure.

What we do know for certain is that people who are determined to get sober have the best chance of getting sober. But in order to break free of addiction, you really have to want it. You have to want it badly.

And that raises a deeper question: Do we really want it? Is sobriety still a virtue in America? And by the way, should it be a virtue? Is it worth being sober?

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Adapted from Tucker Carlson’s monologue from “Tucker Carlson Tonight” on Nov. 7, 2019.