Few illnesses cripple the mind and consume the body like drug addiction. Few illnesses crush the soul like opioid addiction, causing friends and family to struggle deeply and search greatly for a treatment center that is safe and effective.
Of these centers, none are in the United States.
Were it otherwise, we would see less of what is in fact a sea of people, including combat veterans and citizens combating the collapse of their communities: a nation in crisis and a crisis of confidence regarding the nation’s ability to assure the survival and the success of free minds and free people, because America lacks what Americans need—the resources to treat patients suffering from opioid addiction.
I can speak to the nature of this crisis, not because I am an addict, but because I am a witness to the severity of this crisis.
I have no choice but to testify to the fast undoing of lives and livelihoods by an addiction that is not, for all intents and purposes, treatable in the U.S.
Does that mean all Americans who have an addiction to opioids must go outside America to free themselves from addiction? Of course not. But most Americans who need treatment will not get—it is impossible for them to receive—the treatment they deserve in America
Put aside the promises about recovery from treatment centers in America.
Put aside the billboards, ads, and commercials about the ease and efficacy of treatment in America.
Put aside, too, the image of a black bar rolling across a screen of fluorescent light, in which the picture flickers and jumps because of a difference in frequency between the TV and the camera, in which the transmission of light fails to provide enlightenment.
I have seen that image too many times.
I have watched that commercial too many times not to know that recovery is harder than some announcer says it is, what with his smooth delivery and soothing copy.
That commercial is itself an electronic narcotic, designed to tranquilize and amuse.
That commercial is not what a patient needs. Not when ibogaine treatment is what that patient may need most: a plant-based treatment from doctors and staff who specialize in administering this substance.
To go abroad in search of that treatment is the right response to a medical emergency.
To call that situation anything less than what it is, to pretend we have the luxury of time—that time will stop, so we may debate our options—is to believe that our only choice is in fact optional.
To the person who would rather wait but not see the consequences of inaction, to the person who thinks the problem will solve itself, I say: look again.
Look at what addiction has done not just to the least among us, to the people left behind—to the people out of sight, out of mind—but the people with the most among us.
Look at the wealthy who cannot buy at home what is available abroad.
Look at how addiction can exhaust all the riches of over two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil, destroying an area without laying waste to its mansions and estates.
Behind the gates of these homes, at the end of miles of brick and cobblestone, past the gilded doors and marble entranceways, from rooms that house public events to the locked doors of imperial bedrooms, privacy offers no escape from the privations of addiction.
I can attest to that fact.
I have seen the faces of the rich and unhappy.
I have seen a mass exodus by the one percent, a retreat worse than any rout by enemies foreign and domestic.
I fear what remains because I am loath to see the remains of my fellow citizens and human beings.
My friend, who is a recovering addict, describes the scene as a beautiful nightmare, meaning, the area looks like a vacationland without vacationers.
The sounds of nature echo throughout the canyons and passes, without a whisper of life from the people who live in the mountains and valleys. The silence, he says, is the sound of the dying, of modern-day opium dens—of people unable to move—where death is the crash that follows the final high.
We must not remain silent to this disaster.
My recommendation is to travel, to go abroad—to recover—rather than overdosing at home.
We have much to gain by traveling beyond the borders of the 48 contiguous states, by pursuing treatment outside all 50 states.
We can better strengthen America by uniting and recovering together, by healing outside America before returning to America.
The greatest good we can achieve is to serve the common good.
By reviving our souls we may save the soul of America, because America cannot exist dependent and unfree.
We, therefore, owe it to ourselves to find the road to recovery.
We can neither shirk that mission nor avoid that responsibility. Not if we are to be true to what America said on paper, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
The choice before us is to live as healthy citizens, or to survive without living lives of purpose.
We choose the happiness of recovery. We choose the joy of redemption. We choose the awe of renewal.
We choose to do these things because they are right.
That the choice exists, that our existence hinges on making the right choice, that we have the freedom to choose—all of these things should inspire us to tour those places where the addicted arrive looking for help and the newly healthy leave looking to help others.
Such is the definition of medical tourism.
Such is the defining moment of a person’s life, when he chooses to conquer the scourge of addiction by choosing the right drug treatment center.
Let us do likewise, so we may choose a treatment that works.