In one of the highlights (lowlights?) of our second conversation, Sam shares that fentanyl users don't like its experience as much as heroin's. On the contrary, it's worse. It pops them out faster from the euphoria, which makes them want to take more. It's a worse experience that addicts them more. Their suppliers don't care about the experience. They care that it sells more, which makes them more money. It's cheap to make, so they make huge amounts and flood the market, not caring about the waste that they consider someone else's problem (as if a crumbling society didn't hurt them too) nor the health of their customers, as long as they keep returning. They will, doing whatever it takes to get the money, laying waste to society and their lives. I could have just described any number of addictions: sugar, fat, doof in general, gambling, social media, flying, etc. I would have also described our society, increasingly built around supplying products and services that addict, resulting from our valuing innovation, technological efficiency, and such. Sam and I approach addiction from several views. He shares the inside views he's seen and assembled in his latest book The Least of Us and his earlier Dreamland of America's addiction problem. As we discuss, though he focuses on what many of us consider the most extreme substance-based addictions, their poignancy comes from their relevance to increasingly more of our lives and culture. We are addicted to Facebook, Amazon Prime, Netflix, McDonald's, H&M, Delta, Starbucks, and so on. Unless we acknowledge our problem, for starters, and act.
You'll hear why Sam's books win so many awards: he deeply, personally explores fascinating, critical, current topics, then tells rich, detailed stories that get to their heart. He cares about the people he writes about and our tragic era as you the listener and reader. Meth and fentanyl, you can look in any small town, rural area, or big city---that is, everywhere---to see them sweeping and devastating the United States. Sam shares first his background and interest in learning where it comes from historically and geographically, why it takes root, and what people are doing to stop them. Regular listeners to this podcast and my blog readers know I cover addiction a lot. I focus on it partly because it permeates my neighborhood and twenty-first century culture, not just the illegal addictions like meth, fentanyl, crack, opiates, cocaine, and the list goes on. Also the legal ones that kill the most people, like sugar, fat, and behaviors that burn fossil fuels. But mainly because our loss of self-control amid unawareness and denial are causing our environmental problems. Our community and environmental problems that Sam describes are the physical manifestation of our values, implemented by our behaviors. Addiction changes our values from community-based, compassion, and other forms of altruism to neediness and selfishness. I think you'll find this episode fascinating.