Technology: Isolation makes addiction hard to fight

During Sunday’s Your Voice MOV conversation in Parkersburg, some familiar points were raised: our stagnant economy has created a sense of hopelessness, pharmaceutical companies put profit before conscience and flooded our region with “legal” opiates, our healthcare system is unprepared to help the volume and range of people in need, help in recovery is difficult to find …

But other points may have been more of a surprise, and they focus squarely on our society and culture as a whole, not simply on the folks to whom many choose to turn a blind eye.

Our sense of community, our ability to communicate, our ability to be open and honest about challenges that require ALL our effort — those factors have as much to do with our clumsiness in attempting to fight this plague as anything else.

Technology is a wonderful thing. But it can isolate us. It can have us more attached to — addicted to — those little devices in our hands than to each other. One attendee at the meeting Sunday lamented “There is a lack of personal connections.” That leads to a change in personal accountability, but also a change in a person’s feeling that they might get support from the folks around them, should they seek help.

It feeds depression and encourages escapes from reality. And according to one student who spoke up, it even prevents efforts to educate kids of the dangers of drug abuse. That young person said events held in schools to discuss the drug epidemic and ways to avoid falling into the trap are useless when most of the students in attendance have their faces buried in their smartphones, not paying the slightest attention to what is happening around them.

In fact, the attitude in schools and some homes toward this poison is appalling. An addiction treatment specialist told the group Sunday early intervention education programs are being kept out of schools because teacher, administrators and parents think it is someone else’s problem.

“That denial is killing those kids,” he said.

And, again, many of those kids are so far absorbed into the false reality presented to them by their technology, they do not even know what they are missing.

It is time to wake up, ladies and gentlemen. It is not someone else’s problem. It is OUR problem. And it will not be solved until we spend a lot more time in conversations — face to face — with each other than we do scrolling through carefully curated social media feeds that lets us keep on our blinders.

A final meeting will be held tonight from 6-8 p.m. at the Washington County Fairgrounds clubhouse at 922 Front St., Marietta. Even if you intend to attend simply to listen, it is worth your time. And it is time to join the fight.