COMMENTARY: Deaf Gahan mentioned “opioid crisis” in a press release, but this probably doesn’t mean what you think it does, so let’s clear it up.


It seemed like big news earlier this week, but with a wee bit of scrutiny, the spiel is exposed as more of the same New Gahanian institutional flatulence.

Three years after Southern Indiana’s opioid crisis exploded into widespread consciousness, both here and throughout the nation …

(Austin, Indiana) is a tiny place, covering just two and a half square miles of the sliver of land that comprises Scott County. An incredible proportion of its 4,100 population — up to an estimated 500 people — are shooting up. It was here, starting in December 2014, that the single largest HIV outbreak in US history took place. Austin went from having no more than three cases per year to 180 in 2015, a prevalence rate close to that seen in sub-Saharan Africa.*

 … Jeff Gahan finally referenced the issue publicly, for attribution. Upon closer examination, however, it appears that Gahan said nothing at all of substance.

Gahan piggybacked the opioid topic only after Mike Moore broached it at the press conference announcing a lawsuit against distributors, one clearly impelled and initiated by Jeffersonville, not New Albany.

He hitched his “unwoke” consciousness to the usual preferred study grants, After all, how else to properly monetize opioid addiction to serve the cause of campaign finance?

And, he showed no signs that he believes addiction is a problem right here in New Albany.

Note the Jeffersonville- and Moore-centric tone of local chain newspaper coverage. In fact, the reporter Beilman’s initial “breaking news” tweets didn’t mention New Albany’s participation in the lawsuit. This news came later.

Jeffersonville, New Albany to sue opioid distributors over ‘broken homes, families torn apart’, by Elizabeth Beilman (Chain Newspaper)

Three multi-billion distributors targeted in federal suit

The cities of Jeffersonville and New Albany are taking on multi-billion dollar wholesale pharmaceutical distributors that officials claim are responsible for proliferating the opioid addiction crisis in their communities.

Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore announced at a Wednesday morning news conference that the city is filing a lawsuit against AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson Corp.

Impressive. Jeffersonville’s mayor actually spoke publicly in a room with people present. Perhaps Moore doesn’t suffer from a personality disorder.

Seemingly as an afterthought following Moore’s explanation, Gahan’s thoughts are recorded, via the same old ritualistic bunker news release quote.

New Albany announced later in the day that it is joining a lawsuit against these same distributors.

New Albany Mayor Jeff Gahan attended the Prescription Drug Abuse and Heroin Symposium in Indianapolis this week, participating in workshops and hearing from speakers from a variety of professions.

“The opioid crisis is spreading to communities across the nation, and we all need to be more active in learning about what we can do to prevent opioid addiction,” Gahan stated in a news release.

New Albany has applied for the Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayor’s Challenge grant, which focuses on early education and what communities can do to fight the opioid crisis.

As Beilman attributes, New Albany’s copycat case is lifted directly from Gahan’s agoraphobic propaganda generator, deployed in the absence of a living human being willing to tackle a genuinely vital issue.

Perhaps mayoral stand-in Mike Hall was ill, or at lunch.

Mayor Gahan Joins Lawsuit Against Wholesale Opioid Distributors

Mayor Gahan joins others in a lawsuit against wholesale opioid distributors, which have helped spread the opioid addiction crisis.

“The opioid crisis is spreading to communities across the nation, and we all need to be more active in learning about what we can do to prevent opioid addiction,” stated Mayor Gahan.

Earlier this week, Mayor Gahan attended the 8th Annual Prescription Drug Abuse and Heroin Symposium in Indianapolis …

Profiles in courage, eh?

In essence, other people have an opioid problem — we’ll study it a bit longer, and let someone else pay the lawyers. But I suspect Gahan is harboring deeper conniving on this matter, as tutored by Breitbart and Bob Norwood.

Let’s say you’re a 50-something white male C-student New Albany High School graduate steeped in the mythology of (a) a local Democratic Party structure in perpetual thrall to the legacy of Strom Thurmond, and (b) your upbringing in a decaying river town, where you always close your eyes when you sneeze and the presence of vulnerable people in public housing prevents honest and upright folks from making a living selling veneer.

Furthermore, thanks to the Peter Principle, you’ve somehow emerged as mayor — the biggest fish in a tiny pond.

Privately, you’ve already resolved to solve the public housing “problem” by annexation, sycophant-seeding and demolition. Comes the opioid epidemic, and your first inclination is to hunker down and deny such things even exist in your idyllic city. 

Hence one of Shane’s excellent new words: syndemics.

The term syndemics was coined by Merrill Singer, a medical anthropologist at the University of Connecticut. Singer was working with injecting drug users in Hartford in the 1990s in an effort to find a public health model for preventing HIV among these individuals. As he chronicled the presence of not only HIV but also tuberculosis and hepatitis C among the hundreds of drug users he interviewed, Singer began wondering how those diseases interacted to the detriment of the person. He called this clustering of conditions a “syndemic,” a word intended to encapsulate the synergistic intertwining of certain problems. Describing HIV and hepatitis C as concurrent implies they are separable and independent. But Singer’s work with the Hartford drug users suggested that such separation was impossible. The diseases couldn’t be properly understood in isolation. They were not individual problems, but connected.

The wheels can be imagined squeakily turning in the mayor’s noggin.

Singer quickly realized that syndemics was not just about the clustering of physical illnesses; it also encompassed nonbiological conditions like poverty, drug abuse, and other social, economic and political factors known to accompany poor health. “Syndemics is embedded in a larger understanding about what’s going on in societies,” he said when I spoke to him. Singer dubbed the syndemic he’d observed in Hartford “SAVA,” short for substance abuse, violence and HIV/AIDS. In the past ten years, several medical anthropologists have pursued syndemics theory in other contexts. Emily Mendenhall, who studies global health at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, has described a syndemic of type 2 diabetes and depression among first- and second-generation Mexican immigrant women in Chicago. She named that syndemic “VIDDA,” short for violence, immigration, depression, diabetes and abuse, the constellation of epidemics the women were experiencing. “The people who get affected by any given disease, it’s not random,” said Bobby Milstein, a public health scientist, today at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who founded the now-defunct Syndemics Prevention Network at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “It happens systematically with certain people who are placed in conditions of vulnerability that are not entirely under their own control.”

He reaches for a Bud Light Lime bar napkin and begins drawing circles.

All of what has happened since the late 1980s is potentially part of Austin’s syndemic: the sudden unemployment, the desertion of the young, the fall in rent prices, the rise of the itinerant population, the decline of infrastructure, the overprescription of pain pills, the lack of assistance. By the late 1990s and early 2000s, it seems, the town itself had become sick, the result of various forms of ‘structural violence’ — a term introduced by Harvard physician and anthropologist Paul Farmer to describe harmful social frameworks — along with historical, behavioral and political risk factors.

There it is in a public policy nutshell: 

If the city is honest and pristine, but is being held back by public housing, then public housing must be like an Austin infiltrating the perimeter; that’s where all the drugs, fornicators and layabouts are. Obviously, uproot public housing like a stray LEGO block and toss it over to Louisville or Greenville or Birdseye — somewhere, anywhere except here in Come To City — then magically, we’ll have rid ourselves of the preconditions of opioid addiction. What’s more, there’ll no longer be poverty amid Luxury Lebensraum … and there’ll be lap dances aplenty for the Interim Executive Director.

Look, I didn’t say it made sense, only that it’s highly likely. Money first; logic a distant second.

Of course, Dan “Copperhead” Coffey arrives at precisely the same conclusion without aspiring to justify all those C-minuses: They’re not citizens, so tear down their buildings and they’ll go away. Fuck ’em; they don’t vote.

In short, the systemics of syndemics apply to New Albany outside the boundaries of public housing, but scapegoats always play better amid the dynamics of denial.

There really ought to be a vaccine for this level of stupid.

* How Did A Small Midwest Town End Up With America’s Worst HIV Problem?, by Jessica Wapner (Digg)