On the surface, Jonathan was a handsome, shy, gentle kid with a warm and disarming demeanor. But underneath that exterior he struggled with anxiety and depression, which eventually spiraled into addiction, with all its sickening complexity.
So writes U.S. Navy Admiral James Winnefeld (Ret) in The Atlantic. Winnefeld, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2011-2015, “helped run one of the most powerful militaries on Earth. But [he] couldn’t save [his] son from the scourge of opioid addiction.”
“Many people have a simple understanding of addiction,” continues Winnefeld. “They think it happens only to dysfunctional people from dysfunctional families, or to hopeless people living on the street. But our addicted population is spread across every segment of society: rich and poor, white and black, male and female, old and young.”
And it’s deadly. “Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death for Americans younger than 50 years old. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than 64,000 Americans lost their life to a drug overdose in 2016. 15,446 of those were heroin overdoses. The total is more than 20 times the number of Americans killed on 9/11.”
The crisis is also costly. “The White House Council of Economic Advisers just raised its estimate of the epidemic’s annual cost from $78.5 billion to a whopping $504 billion. Princeton University’s Alan Krueger recently completed a study suggesting that 20 percent of the reduction in male participation in our workforce is due to opioid use. And that nearly one-third of prime-working-age men who are not in the labor force are taking prescription pain medication on a daily basis.”
Defeating the opioid epidemic “will be possible only through a concerted effort. That effort includes full-spectrum prevention, stronger prescription-drug controls, more-robust law enforcement, and far more access to quality treatment. All of this will in turn require major increases in public resources.”
We concur here at the Schnellenberger Family Foundation. That’s why we’ve instituted an array of family-engaging programs at our son Timothy’s Recovery Boot Camp. We know how important it is for the addict to have a fully-integrated treatment program. And we’re committed to making that happen every which way we can.