Politics & Policy

To Break the Opioid Crisis, Repair the Family

(Photo: Hikrcn/Dreamstime)
Too many Americans are dying deaths of despair, and their lack of a support system is a big part of the problem.

I want to share with you an extraordinary chart, one that shows the immense cost of loneliness, brokenness, and despair. From Scott Winship, the director of Senator Mike Lee’s invaluable Social Capital Project, here are opiate overdoses by educational level and marriage:

So yes, let’s fight opioid addiction with the same urgency we’d bring to any other public-health crisis. But how much more evidence do we need of the absolute cultural necessity of family repair? Opioid statistics are just the latest confirmation of the warning from Genesis: “It is not good that the man should be alone.”

Poverty, criminality, ignorance, and despair — these are the four horsemen of the family apocalypse, and there is no despair quite like the despair of loneliness. A lonely man or a lonely woman seeks relief, and to hear addicts tell it, there is no euphoria quite like the narcotic haze. For a time, everything is okay. For a time, they feel peace. And don’t we all seek peace?

Our political culture doesn’t talk enough about families. You can spend billions on drug-treatment centers, but which public policy will keep a husband faithful to his wife or train a fatherless son to be a husband and a dad? Moreover, if we “focus on the family,” do we not by necessity have to confront the false ideologies of radical individual autonomy, sexual experimentation, and self-actualization? Don’t we have to double-down on the faith-based institutions that all too many in our body politic seem determined to shame and suppress?

Of course addiction can strike anyone, but the data are overwhelming. Not every category of American is equally vulnerable. Though an intact family isn’t a foolproof shield against hopelessness, despair, and addiction, it’s still a shield. Do we want to combat the opioid crisis? If so, let’s start in the home. Let’s start with a mom and dad who love each other and stay together — through good times and bad. Let’s start with a culture that celebrates marriage and a community that encourages fidelity. Let’s treat addicts, yes, but let’s not forget that while there’s no way to inoculate any person against addiction, a life of faith, hope, and love is a good start.

READ MORE:

In the Opioid Crisis, Keep Your Eyes on Heroin and Fentanyl

Has Medicaid Made the Opioid Epidemic Worse?

The Opioid Crisis Should Kill the Call to Legalize Hard Drugs

David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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