Unmarried and divorced men bear brunt of opioid deaths

Star Parker
Conservative Opinion

Star Parker

Founder & President, Center for Urban Renewal and Education
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For the second year in a row, life expectancy in the United States has dropped. Now, across all 50 states, life expectancy is set to swing lower, with rates declining differently across race and ethnic groups. Surely, COVID-19 played a role, but the NCHS Mortality Statistics Chief, Robert Anderson, cited another unintentional injury – drug and opioid overdoses. Straight Arrow News contributor Star Parker argues that the dissolution of institutions like marriage is a primary cause for the uptick in overdose deaths.

The number of Americans who die due to drug overdose has more than doubled since 2015, with over 100,000 deaths in 2021. And, tragically, 2022 is set to break that record.

Many of these deaths have come from the skyrocketing rise of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid manufactured in China and smuggled into the U.S. through Mexico. Fentanyl is now the leading cause of death among adults aged 18-45.

According to multiple national, state, and independent studies, drug overdose deaths are primarily men and those who are not married. For instance, a study by the National Library of Medicine, never married and divorced individuals made up about 32 percent of the population but accounted for 71 percent of all opioid overdose deaths.

There’s a price to be paid when a society forsakes the spiritual for the purely material – and when traditional institutions, such as marriage and  generational family, are abandoned. It could be that as generational family and conjugal marriage break down, the first victims of this abandonment of spirit and tradition are our young men.

Addressing this crisis will not just require increased law enforcement and public health action. Addressing this fentanyl crisis will require us, as a society, to change our culture for the better, especially when it comes to conjugal marriage.

Conjugal marriage is, after all, an institution, aimed at permanence, selflessness, commitment and stability. It has the potential of transforming people’s lives for the better. And while marriage itself will not guarantee that there still won’t be individuals who sadly succumb to addiction and death, it clearly is a crucial component of keeping souls from wavering down those darker roads.

The number of Americans who die due to drug overdose has more than doubled since 2015, with over 100,000 deaths in 2021.

 And, tragically, 2022 is set to break that record.

 Many of these deaths have come from the skyrocketing rise of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid manufactured in China and smuggled into the U.S. through Mexico.

 Fentanyl is now the leading cause of death among adults aged 18-45.

 And adults are not the only ones in danger, however. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, cartels increasingly target younger children and teens.

 Now we’re hearing more and more about fentanyl that is rainbow colored. To many children, it looks no different from Skittles and M&M’s.

 Many look to policymakers in Washington and in state and local governments to address this continuing opioid crisis, and specifically the rise of fentanyl.

But addressing the smuggling of these drugs into the U.S. through Mexico is unlikely to be addressed anytime soon, as the Biden Administration’s inaction and lack of concern for the drastic issues we are facing at our border has been evident.

 While most of his discussions center around the usual policy cop outs of government programs and spending, I think it’s worth considering that what we’re seeing might reflect a moral and cultural crisis.

 According to multiple national, state, and independent studies, drug overdose deaths are primarily men and those who are not married.

 For instance, a study by the National Library of Medicine, never married and divorced individuals made up about 32 percent of the population but accounted for 71 percent of all opioid overdose deaths.

 There’s a price to be paid when a society forsakes the spiritual for the purely material – and when traditional institutions, such as marriage and  generational family, are abandoned. It could be that as generational family and conjugal marriage break down, the first victims of this abandonment of spirit and tradition are our young men.

 Addressing this crisis will not just require increased law enforcement and public health action. Addressing this fentanyl crisis will require us, as a society, to change our culture for the better, especially when it comes to conjugal marriage.

 Conjugal marriage is, after all, an institution, aimed at permanence, selflessness, commitment, and stability. It has the potential of transforming people’s lives for the better.

 And while marriage itself will not guarantee that there still won’t be individuals who sadly succumb to addiction and death, it clearly is a crucial component of keeping souls from wavering down those darker roads.


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