A Clear and Present Danger
security rests on a foundation of vigilance
Eric LaMont Gregory
The National Security of the United States is best preserved when we can anticipate untoward events. And, if and when those events materialise, we have a plan of action to respond effectively. A constant state of vigilance is based on contingency planning. Planning for contingencies is the foundation of security.
In the early 1980's a drug appeared on the streets of the United States and within weeks there were citizens addicted to this new drug in every part of this great country from border to border and from sea to shining sea.
The civil defense of the United States works best when the civil defense apparatus responds to untoward events based on its anticipation of those eventualities. And yet, there seems not to have been a plan in place to counter the arrival of a highly addictive drug on our shores, one that renders a person addicted after a second use or exposure.
Millions of citizens have been affected directly through consumption of this drug and ten's of millions have been victimised by its users. The measurable cost of addiction to this drug and our communities continues to grow as does the immeasurable costs. Addiction ties up our courts, and leaves many of our seniors house-bound for fear of venturing out into their addiction ridden communities.
The arrival of this drug in this country, its spread across the continental United States, and the number of people caught up in the vicious cycle of addiction, constitutes an American civil defense failure of epic proportions. I will return to the civilian defense response, or rather the lack thereof, after delving into the way our military responded to the addictive drug battlefield threat.
Was our military prepared?
Intelligence reaches our military, for lack of a better choice, that some foreign powers are involved in addictive drug research as a weapon of war. The goal seemed to be straightforward - fly over a troop of soldiers on a Monday and drop an invisible powder from the sky which they breath, and repeat the exercise on Wednesday and after the second exposure the soldiers are now addicted to a substance that they know nothing about.
While our doctors suspecting a flu type illness, are running bacteriological, viral and chemical tests to determine the cause of the soldiers' illness, a logistical nightmare envelops the battlefield.
A troop of soldiers, 700 plus twenty or so intelligence officers, are on the battlefield but have been rendered incapable of carrying out their duties. To evacuate the casualties from the battlefield requires three soldiers for every one to be evacuated, 2100 more troops, and of course you need to replace the 700 troops that are incapacitated. As a result, for an indeterminate period of time you now have 3500 troops exposed to enemy action. And, if the other side were to attack after exposing the troops for the second time but before an evacuation could be mounted, they could kill or capture most if not all of the troops without expending a single round, and suffer little if any casualties themselves.
Once it is discovered that the soldiers have been exposed to a highly addictive drug, how do we counter such a contingency? One alternative is to leave the incapacitated soldiers on the battlefield while they recover, a process that could involve weeks or months while the drug works itself out of the system. But this is not a very good solution since any subsequent exposure would again render the soldier addicted and unable to carry out his or her duties. And, the timing of a third, fourth or fifth exposure is unacceptably controlled by the enemy.
First, someone in our military defense structure would have to realise that the threat was real, and then develop a policy to counter the threat. This could take a considerable amount of time, depending on other more urgent demands on the defense management system at the time.
But let us say that a policy is developed to take the addictive drug scenario seriously and mount a plan to address the event if and when it materialised.
A threat of this sophistication would call for an expert committee to be assembled to bring the matter to the attention of the President, the Commander-in-Chief, and this seemingly simple matter is upon closer examination, is fraught with dangers.
Consider for example, the experts who assembled in the Oval office to help George W Bush understand the stem cell controversy. That meeting which was anticipated to last no more than an hour or so, actually went on and on and no firm conclusions were ever reached.
This author tried to be one of the experts assembled, based on decades of explaining some of the most difficult concepts of medical research in a way that both experts and the non-experts on ethical approval panels could reached an inform opinion as to the merits of carrying out research involving living human subjects. Much like the explanation offered here concerning the physical basis of drug addiction.
As the group of experts meet in the Oval Office, if the meeting goes well, someone will suggest that if we want to counter addiction, we ought to know what addiction is. And, if that person is not shouted down like the person who suggested the most basic questions to Bush in relation to stem cell research, a reasonable program might ensue. If the person who asks the most pertinent and basic questions is put in charge, that is.
In a best case scenario, a program could be structured much like that that allowed the Americans to win the atomic bomb race with Nazi Germany, e.g. the Manhattan Project.
Remember that had it not been for a lack of understanding of one of the basic problems in the atomic reaction, the Nazis thought that they needed ten times more radioactive material than was necessary, the first atomic bomb might well have fallen on Britain and not Japan. The outcome of the war, and the modern world would be very different had fascism triumphed.
Answering the most basic question, that is, what is addiction, leads to an understanding that addiction combines elements of a physical as well as a psychological nature that are inexorably interwoven, inextricably intertwined, and constantly conjoined.
Countering the physical basis of addiction, the tools we would want to have available on the battlefield, turns out to be one that can be addressed in days rather than weeks or months.
It seems that the most addictive drugs travel along the nerve pathways in the brain. These nerves have a limited carrying capacity and when that limit is reached the excess drug bleeds into spaces between the nerves. This sets up a tension between nerves that carry one charge and the drug material that lies between them which carries an opposite charge. The nerve tissue does not have enough force to re-attach the excess drug material to the nerve and to relieve the tension which translates into a psychological urge, the user is driven to ingest more of the drug, and to habitual use of the drug to relieve the physical tension created between the nerve and the excess drug trapped between the nerves. These facts constitute the physical and psychological basis of addiction.
Yes, this author was prepared to explain the basic issues involved in the stem cell controversy to George W Bush.
An antidote for addiction, based upon the aforementioned understanding, is a substance that can remove the excess drug trapped between nerves, and thereby remove the drive, the physical urge, which leads users to ingest more of a drug.
A maintenance drug by contrast, simply substitutes one addictive substance for another and feeds the urge caused by the tension between the drug attached to the nerves and the excess drug trapped between them. Maintenance drugs do not and cannot remove the excess drug from between the nerves, in fact, they just replace it with another drug that acts in the same way. They keep the addict requiring more of the maintenance drug in the same way as the drug that it is a substituted for, which caused the addiction in the first instance.
No civil defense effort to counter the incapacitation of millions of Americans who have fallen victim to a designed highly addictive drug first appearing on the streets of the United States in the early 1980's has ever been undertaken.
It is time for such an effort.
I have been trying to contact William G. Batchelder, Speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives to request that the Ohio House of Representatives convene an expert panel to look into the antidote approach as a step in the direction of removing the addiction problem from our communities. Naturally, there are other approaches to raising this issue and it is just as obvious that our Chief Executive, John Kasich has a significant role to play, but getting the attention of the Governor is rather a Herculean effort while the conflicts about his legislative approach abound.
Saving 1 plus billion dollars on medical insurance costs and pension contributions of state employees is laudable, and Issue 2 is one way to avoid the laying off of state employees in the Spring of 2012.
At the same time, to the tens of thousands of tax paying victims of addiction crime there are also substantial savings to be made in the criminal justice budget by coming to grips with the drug problem.
Consider the current situation that our law enforcement, courts, and communities face. That addicted individual robs, steals and runs general havoc in our communities to feed his or her drug habit. The police arrest the individual and there is a court appearance, the first of many for the same individual until a custodial sentence more than a few days is even a possibility.
This scenario plays out while the addict is a juvenile, and begins afresh once they reach the age of 18, adulthood.
In some cases the same individual will make 10 to 15 appearances in court before the courts can issue the kind of sentence that is associated with habitual criminal activity. By this time the police have spent hundreds of man-hours and ten's of thousand of dollars arresting and re-arresting the same individual. First for the offenses and then for the non-payment of the fines associated with the many court appearances.
This process does nothing to address the addiction, and you have 10 to 15 tax paying citizens who have become victims of crime who see the police arrest the same individuals time and time again only to see the same addicts on the streets hunting their next victim.
The cruel irony of this is that the same legislature and civil defense structure that has no contingency plan to address the addiction problem, then tells the tax paying victim that they don't have enough money to police the communities the tax payer is being victimized in, and this while the taxpayer is footing all the costs of the police, courts, jails, prisons and even medical costs of the people who have victimized them.
The taxpayer foots the bill for every aspect of the addiction problem, and at the same time the current system cannot protect the taxpayer from the addict.
Our jails are full to over-capacity, most of those incarcerated are drug related and many are addicts. While our prosecutors tout law and order and campaign on tough sentences for drug crimes, our legisslators have given the wardens of our prisons the right to over rule the prosecutors and judges and release drug crime related inmates early to make room in our jails for violent criminals.
And we release the addict back into the community but we have not treated the addiction. Until the excess drug has been removed from between the nerve endings in the addicts brain, that person is still an addict6 and eventually will succumb to the temptation to start using the drug again. A 72 hour medical treatment is the difference between addiction and non-addiction and yet we are doing nothing to treat the addiction. It is time for us to stop playing the musical chairs addict incarceration game and start treating and curing addiction.
And, we trust the same legislators and executives to address other equally perplexing problems in our society, such as, job creation, community development and re-development, environmental protection, structuring our health care delivery system, and to run our educational system, and to defend this great nation of ours from all foe foreign and domestic.
Rampant addiction in our communities represents a domestic civil defense failure of epic proportions, and shows glaringly that our borders are not secure.
If you would like to see movement towards ending drug addition in our communities, and you understand that addiction is a medical problem as well as a social one, then work with the medical community and, call, email or write your elected representatives and tell them that all the tools available to counter addiction must be brought to bear on this problem, all the tools available.