July 17, 2017

It’s Not Just Opioids, We Have An Alcohol Problem Too

A week ago today Ashley Marie Agee of Sedge Garden was killed when the motorcycle she was on was hit by a drunk driver. All week I have been thinking about what a tragedy her death was. Agee was riding her bike late last Sunday night on Kernersville Road, near the intersection of Kernersville Road and Sedge Garden when a drunk driver hit her from behind, throwing her from her bike and causing injuries that she was unable to recover from.

The intersection of Kernersville Road and Sedge Garden has seen many accidents over the years. It’s a busy, non-perpendicular intersection, that makes left turns sometimes difficult to navigate. The Sedge Garden Florist located on one side of the intersection has had a vehicle run into their shop on a couple of occasions.

But Ashley didn’t lose her life because of a poorly designed road. She lost her life because a young man, addicted to alcohol, traveling at a high rate of speed ran over the motorcycle that she was on.

Across the street from the florist is an Exxon station. Like practically every gas station, in addition to gasoline, it sells all sorts of vices that are perfectly legal; alcohol, tobacco, candy, sodas and lottery tickets. That local gas station near where Ashley Agee lost her life is a community epicenter of addiction.

Lately, opioid addiction has gotten some much-needed attention. That’s a great thing. The story of how Big Pharma turned their patients into pill-heads who in due course became heroin addicts-that’s a story that needs to be told and retold. I applaud Kerri Siglar for starting Phoenix Rising and bringing back a local drug court that city, county, and state officials let wither away.

But opioids aren’t our communities only addiction. Addiction is part of the fabric of our nation. Beyond illegal drugs, legal drugs such as alcohol consumption often lead to fatalities. And there’s no Narcan to bring a victim of alcohol back to life. Alcohol is more pervasive than opioids and it probably causes more cumulative damage to our society.

Why is this the case? It’s because we live in a capitalist society largely devoid of community. Too many of us are living lonely, alienated lives; fertile ground for legal or illegal additions to flourish. Treating addictions and building community is one of the major challenges of our time.

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