“It’s everywhere. It bugs the hell out of me when chefs have this rock-and-roll image. It’s all bullshit,” the Fox TV chef told the Cannes TV market.
Drugs. I have to say up front that on a primary level, I’m not opposed. Drugs do good things, solve problems we otherwise cannot address on our own, and can even put down a nice vibe that makes it easier for us all to Abide. Drugs can be very good. I’m anxiously waiting for the day marijuana is legal not only across the US but around the world.
Addiction, however, is another monster altogether. Mind you, we don’t need drugs to have addiction problems. There’s always something. Alcohol has been a big one for something like 4,000 years of recorded history and even that timeline could be longer than we suspect. Food can be another one and yes, food addiction kills just as many people, it just masks itself as diabetes or heart disease.
I grew up in the 1960s and 70s when there seemed to be a lot of addicts running around. The problem was so severe that addiction recovery services became a big business. Addiction was such a widespread problem that even the former First Lady of the United States, Betty Ford, founded a hospital for addicts after her own battle with alcohol and opioids. Addiction was a huge problem in society.
What we are witnessing today, though, is a resurgence of addictions that make the 70s look like a child’s sugar rush. Addiction is so bad, in fact, that it’s likely impacting your life even if you’re not the one addicted. Let me give you a couple of examples.
Imagine you’re sitting in one of the most popular restaurants in a major city. You’ve waited a long time to visit here. The chef’s reputation is tremendous and reservations have to be made months in advance to get a table. Finally, you’re here. You place your order and wait, anxious to indulge in what you’ve been told is a once-in-a-lifetime culinary experience. When your food arrives, though, it’s less than what you expected. The appetizer is cold. The entreé is overcooked. Dessert is a runny mess. You’re reasonably upset and ask to see the chef. The waiter balks and makes excuses but you’re unrelenting. You’re paying too much for this meal to not get an explanation. Finally, the chef arrives at your table and you immediately see the problem: Chef is high as a fucking kite.
Sound ridiculous? Not only is it real, it’s happening far too often in the best of restaurants around the world. Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay was working on the seventh season of 24 Hours to Hell & Back when he became so fed up with the cocaine problems he was seeing in kitchens that he took his crew and went directly to Columbia to film a documentary on the problem. Ramsey is pissed and if you’ve ever watched an episode of Hell’s Kitchen you know that when Chef Ramsay is pissed he tends to get in someone’s face, yell a lot, and occasionally even throw things. This time, he’s channeled that anger into a piece for UK television that was so dangerous he didn’t tell Fox Network executives what he was doing until it was done.
Cocaine addiction has been growing steadily over the past decade, but it’s not the only addiction problem we have, nor is it the most deadly. Here’s my second example and this one’s a bit closer to home.
I was chilling in the kitchen yesterday (Monday) afternoon when a flurry of cop cars come whizzing down our street, berries and cherries flashing, the whoop-whoop of sirens setting off every dog in the neighborhood. Our two dogs went absolutely apeshit trying to get out the door. The cars stopped just four houses down, surrounding a car parked on the street. Police came out of their cars with guns drawn and ordered the car’s occupants to come out with their hands up. Scary shit. I wasn’t sure what was about to go down and was about to try and get the dogs back inside when the cops realized they had the wrong people, holstered their guns, and sped off in another direction, leaving three teenagers standing in the middle of the road trying to not wet their pants.
Unfortunately, I can’t say this is an isolated incident. One of the reasons we put a fence all the way around our yard last year, in addition to keeping the dogs in, was to protect our children from drug dealers and their customers flying down neighborhood streets, ignoring stop signs and endangering the lives of everyone. While we live in what appears to be a typical suburban neighborhood, the fact is we live in a city that, like every other city in the US, has an opioid addiction problem and that problem fuels an excessively high amount of the violent crime that takes place across the city, from robbery and burglary to assault and murder.
If addiction was a problem that limited itself to those addicted I probably wouldn’t bother saying anything. After all, you are responsible for you and it’s not my place to tell criticize anyone else’s bad life choices unless they hurt someone else. When bad habits put the lives of other people at risk, though, which the opioid crisis absolutely does, then yeah, I’m going to say something—and so should you.
Where we run into a problem is that the people who could be helping with this addiction problem, and let’s be clear that this is an addiction problem, not a drug problem, are not only not helping, they’re getting the way of people who can help. The US Congress, specifically, has been preventing the DEA from stopping the flow of opioids at their source. CBS’s 60 Minutes has just completed an investigation that shows members of Congress, specifically Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA) and Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), colluded with drug makers to pass a law last year that severely limits the DEA’s ability to stop the flow of opioids into America’s streets.
Here, watch this video from CBS for more detail (27 minutes):
As the addiction problem goes, the more likely it is to affect those who are not addicts themselves. Just as customers as a restaurant suffer the results of a cocaine-addicted chef, everyone who comes into contact with an opioid-addicted person is potentially at risk. From a poor performance on the job to committing crimes out of desperation, people suffering from addiction impact everyone’s lives in ways we often don’t even recognize.
Ignoring other people’s problems is easy. We can be supportive as someone fights their demons but we don’t really like getting involved in matters that don’t directly involve us; it’s none of our business, man. Addiction is our business, though. Our own lives are at risk. The next car speeding through the neighborhood could hit your kid or your pet. The line cook who’s high off his ass could put tainted meat on your burger. The problem is real and its only getting worse.
We like to be chill and let things blow over, but trust me, dudes, this addiction problem isn’t going to blow over. That means we have to do something. Start here: Contact your Congressperson and insist that they support the bill Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) introduced yesterday that would repeal the 2016 law limiting DEA enforcement. Depending on where you are, there are likely other efforts in your own community that could use your help.
Addiction seems like a personal problem, and on one level it is. Addiction is also a public health issue, though, that affects us all. You don’t have to be the one taking the drugs to suffer the consequences. Solutions only come when we all get involved.
Abide in Peace,
The Old Man
And now, we pass the hat[give_form id=”70″ show_title=”false” show_goal=”false” show_content=”none” display_style=”button” continue_button_title=”We Need Your Support!”]