Create a therapeutic community
To the Editor:
While in Bangor this past week, I read about the four Rumford people who were arrested for selling/buying oxycontin.
I don’t know any of those folks. But, I wonder, given the statistics on deaths due to overdoses of that drug, how long will it be before the people arrested thank those who investigated and arrested them for saving their lives and the lives of people who purchased the drugs from them?
It may be a while because I think the folks into oxycontin are different from me genetically, maybe one gene, maybe a whole complex. My evidence for this is based on an "n of 1," which is powerful if you are the "1."
The one and only time I took oxycontin, after a pulled, abscessed tooth, I thought the experience was like what I had after eating a serving of potato salad on a warm 4th of July church picnic in Florida. That was over 60 years ago and I have not eaten potato salad, or cole slaw (the bowls were adjacent and there was a generalization of effect -- birds of a feather, you know), since then. I still avoid those parts of the table where that stuff is located.
So, anyone who takes oxycontin, anyone who works to get oxycontin, anyone who breaks the law to get that stuff, has different genes than me.
Maine is lucky in having lots of excellent geneticists at Jackson Lab who could create some compelling models of how oxycontin genes — that is much of what geneticists do, create models -- and we need to put them to work on this problem. One week would be long enough for a good geneticist to create a viable model for oxycontin gene(s).
Now, once we have a model, we can ask the question: “What are we doing sending people to prison because they have genes that are different from ours?” Prison, as we have learned the hard way, does not work for druggies. There are more people dying from oxycontin than automobile accidents so we need to attack the problem in many ways, much like we have done successfully to cause the decreases in automobile fatalities.
That is, if we value human beings, we need to do these things.
Let’s think about buying one of the “for sale” farms in Oxford County and creating a therapeutic community. It would still be necessary to arrest the people who have different genes for oxycontin metabolism. After arrest they’d be placed in the empty jail in S. Paris, fed good food, evaluated, and given the option of being sent to the farm.
If they choose the farm over prison, they’d have to work, not too hard because these oxycontin folks have been beating themselves up for a long time, and become part of the farm's therapeutic community. It would be necessary to talk the state corrections department, which wants to save money, to send us half the money they spend on each person per year in prison for us to spend on those who choose the farm instead of prison.
Given what we know about how a large number of human beings have the genes that make them vulnerable to oxycontin and given how we know how human beings respond to love and support and gentleness and fresh air and honest work, the farm would soon have applicants for candidates from other counties and other states, if not other countries.
We also have the example set by Gheel (Geel), Belgium, where centuries ago it was shown how to best treat different afflictions so the afflicted become integral, contributing individuals of our communities and persons in our families.
Think about it. Google Gheel. Think about it again.