Pubdate: Sat, 02 Mar 2002
Source: Register-Herald, The (WV)
Copyright: 2002 The Register-Herald
Author: Sandra McClung


The Vital Statistics Annual Report from the West Virginia Department of 
Health and Human Resources said 20,993 West Virginians died in 1999. Only 
33 died from alcohol or drug psychoses, dependence or abuse. Of those, only 
14 died from accidental or intentional poisoning by narcotics and 
psychodysleptics (hallucinogens).

I realize 33 people are nothing to sneeze at. But when compared to the 
other deaths - 4,737 people from cancer, 6,959 people from heart disease, 
1,341 from cerebrovascular disease, 800 from motor and nonmotor vehicle 
accidents, etc. - it's a drop in the proverbial bucket.

Drug abuse has been around since before the discovery of tobacco. Indians 
smoked peyote to get high. Chronic opium smokers of China are with us 
today. As long as there are people with wants and needs, there are people 
with substance abuse. Why not outlaw tobacco, which caused 4,227 deaths 
from lung disease? Outlaw carbohydrates next and alcohol, vehicles, other 
prescription drugs - and don't forget guns.

West Virginia has a problem providing alternatives for its young people. 
Only when we attack substance abuse at its roots, which is chronic 
unemployment, lack of education and poverty, will we really begin to 
correct these problems. Banning the first legally available medication for 
chronic pain is the wrong thing to do.

Sandra McClung,

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