“MOTHER’S LITTLE HELPER: THE PRECURSOR TO TODAY’S OPIOID EPIDEMIC”
By Jay Arrington | September 26, 2019 3:00 EST
Remember back in the day when people would say something like, “She’s resting. I gave her a sedative.” Better still, have you ever wondered how women -white women- on television in the 40s, 50s and 60s mustered up the energy to float around the house all day in heels singing “I feel pretty?” The answers to these questions could be found on the shelves of household medicine cabinets.
Whether amphetamines (uppers) or sedatives (downers) it seemed as if the problems of upper and middle-class women could all be solved with “Mother’s Little Helper.” The term was originally assigned to tranquilizers but was marketed in ads targeting housewives as a panacea for a variety of stressors associated with being a wife, mother, or both.
Feeling down? Pop a pill. Husband not paying you enough attention? Pop a pill. Children getting on your nerves? Pop a pill. That upper got you too jittery? Pop a pill. Unable to cope with “situational stress?” Pop a pill. That downer got you too lethargic? Pop a pill. According to the drug companies there was no circumstance that arose which could not be handled with the popping of a pill.
Given the history of people’s aversion to dealing with life’s problems head on why then, are we angry with drug companies and not with ourselves regarding the current opioid crisis? A crisis that has long been in the making.
As an alcohol and drug counselor intern, I always ask clients, “How were you introduced to drugs?” Often the response is, “I found some of my mother’s pills in the medicine cabinet.” “Next thing I knew I was hooked.” This in no way absolves anyone else of their responsibility and in no way dismisses other means of introduction. It does, however, speak volumes about attitudes concerning privilege, status and a fundamental disinterest in developing coping skills from one generation to another.
Unlike African Americans whose time in this country has demanded they develop coping skills and have done so absent medications; whites have largely been immune to such demands. This might account for the fact that more whites are dying from overdoses than blacks and Latinos, https://www.npr.org/2017/11/04/562137082/why-is-the-opioid-epidemic-overwhelmingly-white. Couple this with the absurd belief that blacks are not as sensitive to pain as whites and therefore are not prescribed opioids as frequently and you begin to see why blacks are being spared. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2016/04/04/do-blacks-feel-less-pain-than-whites-their-doctors-may-think-so/
Not that blacks have not had their time in the barrel regarding a drug epidemic. We all remember the crack epidemic of the 80s, a CIA led operation which funded then President Reagan’s Iran-Contra guns for drugs foreign policy scandal. The difference however between now and then is that while black families and neighborhoods were deliberately destroyed by its own government, the victims were labeled, “animals and criminals.” No lawsuits for them. Black people doing time.
The ones fortunate enough to not lose their lives were locked up and/or had their careers ruined as opposed to the present crisis where whites are labeled “innocent victims” and the hues and cries of outrage flood the airwaves along with calls for sensible solutions and lawsuits. White people doing treatment.
Americans would do themselves a huge favor by recognizing this one immutable fact. If you don’t teach your children coping skills while they’re sober people like me (counselors) will have to. And if people like me have to it will be much more difficult for your child to learn. Provided they want to let go the apron strings of Mother’s Little Helper.