The Origins Of The Drug Epidemic In Appalachia Laid Bare

By Richard Cooke | Excerpt from Tired of Winning: A Chronicle of American Decline: For More Info, Go Here…

ngd-This is terrible. I’m going to have to start an “Appalling Insight of the Week Award”…

Huntington, the second largest city in West Virginia, once had a population of more than 100,000 people, but that number has reduced to some 48,000, and almost one-quarter of these, some 12,000 citizens, have either latent or active substance-use disorders. In a local coffee shop (the owners, incongruously, Australians), the woman behind the counter mentioned this affliction, and said, ‘But everywhere has problems, doesn’t it?’ Not so oblivious as it sounds. An incurious visitor could notice nothing amiss in the city, except its absences. Half-empty streets seem rangy and architecturally relaxed. There are plainclothed sex workers, who sit on the steps of churches, and homeless men pushing trolleys, but for the most part, the epidemic is so unnoticeable it is almost subterranean.

Huntington’s nadir (so far) came on 15 August 2016, when there were twenty-eight overdoses in four hours, two of them fatal. Most were in the surrounds of the Marcum Terrace public housing estate, a cluster of low-rise apartments that distills social problems. A friend, a journalist, was in town not long after this date. She was kept briefly housebound by bad weather, and when the spell of filthy rain broke into a clear, warm day, she went for a walk. She said the streets were nearly empty; Huntington’s sylvan parkland, some of it stretching to the banks of the Ohio River, was left to the white-tailed deer. In the houses and apartments, a force held sway that was stronger than the elemental drive towards the sun.

Leave a Reply