COLUMN: What makes Missouri drug users want to escape from reality?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CST; updated 9:47 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, May 12, 2010

It's hard to believe sometimes, that a few, short generations ago, many Americans families existed on one income. In most cases, men worked one full-time job and women stayed at home and cared for the family. If women worked outside the home at all, it was usually part time. As easy as it would be to believe that the altered lifestyles of today's nuclear families is to blame for the plight of today's youth, common sense tells most of us, that this is not the entire story. There have always been families in our society where only one parent was present and the family was poor and needy. Still many children born to these families went on to grow up to lead successful lives.

I was mulling all of this over in my mind when I read the Associated Press story about Missouri leading the nation in meth lab activity. Stories abound, of course, about the lack of teenage supervision in many households, so it's easy to assume that this partly explains the situation with much of the illegal drug usage. Certainly, teenage drug abuse is always a cause for concern. But the millions of adults caught up in drug abuse in this country seem to be a subject that almost escapes the notice of the public.

Still, long before the recession became a part of our current reality, drug abuse continued to be one of the most pressing problems of our time. I truly wish sociologists would do a national study on why it is that in the most industrialized country in the world – where for many, anything they desire is at their disposal – so many individuals want to withdraw from reality? As I pore over police blotters and crime stories, it never ceases to amaze me that people of all ages are being charged with and convicted of drug activity.

What is it about life in the land of plenty that makes so many people want to run away from it? What, for Heaven's sake, are we doing wrong and why is there so much silence on this subject?

You would think television would be all over the subject. You could believe that there would be talk show after talk show dealing with this issue. To be sure, there are all kinds of treatment centers available, but shouldn't there be information on hand, all over the country to tell us how to stop this abuse before it begins? How many millions of lives have been destroyed in this struggle? How much money has been spent fighting this war and building and maintaining institutions to house those affected?

If, for example, we had an outbreak of some kind of contagious disease that was killing people and destroying families, individuals would be virtually yelling in the streets to find some kind of cure. Still this man-made disease is allowed to grow and flourish in towns and cities across the nation.

Like the proverbial hot potato, we keep handing the problem down to the next generation and expecting them to solve it. I keep hearing people say that there is too much money involved in drug dealing for it to be stopped.

If that is the case, it seems to me that answer is pretty pathetic, especially coming from those who are constantly beating a path around the world criticizing other countries for producing terrorists. What do you call people who sell drugs to children and cause them to destroy their future and cause such pain to families? Are these solid citizens?

Here in our own state, where our farmers were once credited with feeding the nation, for the ninth consecutive year, we have recorded the most meth lab incidents. In spite of the fact that Missouri has passed laws to curtail the sales of medications, which are used to produce the toxic substance, the problem persists. Our law enforcement officials appear to be proactive in their policing suspected meth sellers and users. The question remains, however, why are people young and old willing to sacrifice their health and freedom to abuse this dangerous chemical concoction?

A couple of generations ago, most children's greatest desire was to live up to their parent's hopes and dreams for their lives. In their play lives, they wanted to grow up to be doctors, firemen, police officers and lawyers. But, of course, that was before the widespread use of television programs that opened their eyes to possibilities they had never dreamed of.

At some point, you know, we Americans are going to have to grow up. We're going to have to practice what we preach. We are going to have to decide what kind of country we truly want and put into existence those requirements and restrictions that are compatible with the value system we claim to embrace. Through negligence and a refusal to set a proper example we are losing thousands of young people every year.

What is it about this society that we have created that is so ugly that our own citizens can't bear to face it? Doesn't it make sense to find out?

You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling her at 882-5734 or e-mailing her at

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