“Remember that song ‘Addicted to love’ by the late Robert Palmer? With the catchy refrain ‘you might as well face it, you’re addicted to love,” I asked Camp as soon as I sat down at our usual Thursday table at ‘Gramma’s Pub’. The song was stuck in my head, playing the catchy refrain over and over, driving me crazy.
“Yeah, I sort of remember,” he said warily, “where is this going?”
“Well, if you change the refrain to ‘addicted to pain’ you’re right in line with the latest epidemic. I’m talking about the opioid crisis in the US and also here in BC where over 800 people have died from overdoses this year alone. It’s a crises as big and more complicated than Aids, some experts say.”
“I take it the pain you refer to is threefold: First there is the real pain which gets dulled with ever increasing pain meds, which can lead to the pain of addiction itself; the stigma attached to it and then follows the pain of loss; loss of self, loss of money and loss of relationships and eventually loss of life itself.”
“That’s putting it pretty crassly Camp,” I said, sipping my beer.
“By the way, Americans, who are 5% of the world’s population, take 60% of the world’s painkillers. Americans are the most drugged people on earth,” Camp stated and then went on, “according to an article in ‘Guardian’ over 90 people die each day from opioid overdoses in the US.”
“It’s incredible,” I said, “and how does all that heroin get from Afghanistan to the US each year?”
“Well you can start with the CIA trained Mujahedeen which later turned into the Taliban and who outlawed opium production in 2000. Then the US took the war to the Taliban in 2001 and after 2,300 US soldiers were killed and thousands maimed, Afghanistan in 1995 was once again the producer of 90% of the world’s supply of heroin. Figure it out.”
“And as long as millions of people need and want these drugs, somebody will produce and deliver them. The war on drugs should be a fight against addiction with medical, social and judicial resources, not guns, military and cops. I still don’t know how all these illegal drugs get into the US and Europe.”
“From the south they come in mostly by sea in everything from pleasure boats to submarines, also by cargo containers and tunnels and even catapults and air canons are used to send drugs across the border. Heroin from US-occupied Afghanistan gets in by airplane. People getting on and off military and CIA aircrafts aren’t searched. It’s as simple as that.“
We both sat quietly for a few beats, contemplating the enormity of the mess. Time to change the subject, I thought.
“Camp did you hear about New Zealand’s new prime minister ? She’s 38 years young and tweets as a kitty cat named ‘paddles’ ?”
“No, that news item escaped me.”
“Well, I’m glad I got something new for you. Her first tweet after being elected was: ‘You asked fur it.’ Get it?”
“And here in Quebec they elected Valerie Plante as the new mayor of Montreal. I can tell you Muriel is ecstatic and for my money women can run the world. Get rid of all the old men who are in power the world over.”
“You’re preaching to the choir Camp, we’d all be better off I believe. You know the first thing Jacinda Ardern, the new Kiwi PM, wants to do is stop the sale of New Zealand properties to foreign buyers, because the housing market is through the roof and has become unaffordable for middle-class kiwis, with more and more homeless people on the streets. Kind of reminds me of Vancouver, except here everything is still up for sale. If someone from Timbuktu wants to, they can buy ten properties at once.”
“Yes, this is a problem, even here in Gibsons, property has become unaffordable for young people,” Camp agreed.
“How do you guys want to pay,” Vicky, who suddenly appeared, asked. “I prefer cash or would you boys like the machine?”
“How about a tab Vicky? Could we start to run a tab?” I asked.
“And where would my tips go ?”
“Oh, they’re separate, due each Thursday,” Camp laughed.
“Under what name would you boys like to start a tab”
“Thirsty Thursdays,” I said and Camp pulled out a fiver for Vicky’s tip.