Discover more from Euphoric Recall
“A sad soul can kill you quicker than a germ.”
On the costs and consequences of lockdowns.
Euphoric Recall is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
This is a subject matter with which I am intimately familiar. I've been meaning to write this post for over a year, and have tried more than a few times only to delete the clumsy approximations.
There are certain things of an intrinsically personal nature that simply don't lend themselves well to generalizations, and trying to articulate pain only to find that the pain remains wholly unaffected by the attempt is a dispiriting affair, to put it mildly. I'm sorry to say that it took a little too long to realize this shouldn’t be about me and my reservations.
For now, I invite you to imagine what things would be like today if lockdowns had never happened.
Indeed, imagine how much better things would be — how much better things would’ve gone — if we hadn’t submitted to a vague, coercive public health apparatus, and the overly neurotic among us had instead been forced to come to grips with their own mortality, their own finitude, and demonstrate bare minimum courage in the face of uncertainty rather than prostrate themselves before the altar of Faucism and a respiratory virus with an infection fatality rate under 0.2%.
Articles and essays that lament our present-day quagmire as a tragedy that befell us, as if heaven-sent, are trickling out now courtesy of the very same corporate media that clung to a pre-vaccine paradigm until the position was no longer fashionable, turning the info-sphere into an epistemic free-for-all in which “the truth” was wholly a matter of perspective and agenda.
These articles and essays are uniformly predicated on feel-good lies—namely, that this same corporate media did not in fact adopt preening moral certainty/performative theatric narcissism which, combined with the attendant pious sadism, largely contributed to the zero-covid zeitgeist, which in turn paved the way for biomedical surveillance, vaccine apartheid, and even more stringent restrictions and policies; and that the pantheon of pundits to which these writers belong did not in fact fetishize the situation and encourage the lazy majority to accept draconian lockdown measures without really thinking about the consequences, cheering on tyranny like a bunch of petulant minions.
That’s what I want to talk about — the concomitant, unquantifiable costs of lockdowns — and I humbly request that the fine readers of this here letter of news keep all of the above in mind as I do.
“The numbers are unprecedented.”
“The pandemic has also introduced unprecedented disruptions into individual habits and society, making it difficult to foresee the exact effect,” wrote the Washington Post in July 2020, in a perfect example of liberal obtuseness—a hallmark of the pandemic.
Difficult to foresee the exact effect.
The phrase “willful ignorance” comes to mind.
In March 2020, AIER warned of a coming wave of drug overdoses, domestic abuse cases, and suicides based on existing empirical literature on unemployment and sudden financial crisis.1 It boggles the mind that any warning was needed at all; the most rudimentary understanding of human psychology would suggest the far-reaching, decidedly negative impact of killing commercial society, locking people in their homes and forcibly separating them from friends and family and even faith, and forcibly shutting — by unconstitutional executive edicts — all schools, bars, gyms, parks, and every other outlet essential to maintaining the equilibrium of the American psyche.
“President Trump and conservatives have repeatedly cited the possible rise of overdoses and suicides when calling for states and businesses to hurry their economic reopening.” — Washington Post
Regardless of your opinion of Trump, the above quote is deeply revealing. It confirms that common sense was ultimately superseded by the
sage counsel of Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx. The latter’s recently released memoir irrefutably shows as much.
The consequences were swift.
By late March, more people had died in just one Tennessee county from suicide than had died in the entire state from the virus.
“One of my best friends is gay and he said he’s seen more ODs and suicides in his circle within the gay community in the past 4 weeks than in the past few years.” — Anonymous (Source: Jeffrey Tucker, Liberty or Lockdown)
“The numbers are unprecedented,” Dr. Mike deBoisblanc of John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek, California told ABC 7 News about the increase of suicide deaths, adding that he’d seen a “year’s worth of suicides” in a single four-week span during lockdowns.
It turns out that round-the-clock fear mongering and prolonged isolation is no frolic in the psychic glade, and suggests (at best) gross negligence by those in nominal positions of authority who would have us think of them as leaders.
The Other Public Health Emergency
“The pandemic worsened the opioid epidemic.”
This superficial rendering has been the frame of choice by the media—lockdown apologists all, to be sure. It is, of course, misleading. It’s misleading for the same reason it’s misleading to say that the pandemic increased poverty, spiked domestic violence incidents, and led to unprecedented learning deficits among children: The pandemic didn’t do anything of the sort. Nor did covid, for that matter.
It was how the ruling class responded to the pandemic and the abandonment of evidence-based medicine by the CDC, FDA, NIH, academic, and pharmaceutical leaders.
Before the pandemic hit, national efforts to stem the opioid crisis were just beginning to show progress. In January, the CDC released 2018 data showing a slight decline in fatal overdoses for the first time in 28 years, a glimmer of hope that makes what followed all the more sad.
Drug overdose deaths rose nearly 30% in 2020 to a record 93,000, the largest single-year increase ever recorded.
The latest tally from the CDC shows nearly 108,000 overdose fatalities in 2021—more than vehicle crash and gun deaths combined, and far more than in 2017, when Trump declared drug deaths a public-health emergency. This grave upsurge also marked a dark milestone: More than 1 million Americans have died from drug overdoses since 2001. And yet even so, beyond the numbing accountancy, the opioid epidemic has failed to impress itself onto America.
Let’s not be so naive as to think this stratospheric increase is merely correlated with lockdowns. The biggest jump in overdose deaths took place in April and May, when fear and stress were rampant, job losses were multiplying, and the strictest lockdown measures were in effect. For context, it’s important to understand that the vast majority of people who overdose don't intend to do so; it’s not about wanting to hurt oneself, it’s about wanting to not hurt,2 and the economic dislocation, fraying of social networks, and rise in mental health disorders like anxiety and depression — not to mention the fear stoked by the corporate media’s 24/7 hysteria machine — led many Americans to seek out poisonous ameliorators.3
The data is irrefutable:
In March 2020, overdose deaths rose 18%; in April, 29%; in May, 42%. These were the most draconian months of the pandemic.
By July of 2020 — a mere four months after the first lockdown order was imposed — a total of 35 states had reported substantial increases in opioid-related mortality.
Overdose deaths jumped another 15% in 2021 as pandemic lockdowns were extended deep into the year, pushing massive doses of fear and uncertainty and anxiety and depression into people’s lives — and let’s not forget those who had their livelihoods taken away for refusing an experimental injection that they did not want or need (#BansOffMyBody?) — while cutting off the human connections that help ease these burdens. From September 29 – October 11, 2021, 31.6% of adults in the U.S. reported symptoms of anxiety and/or depression, up from 11.0% in 2019.
“They were cries for help.”
A major factor in any pandemic, mentioned rarely if at all, is that loneliness is arguably the number one risk factor for premature mortality. An analysis of 300,000 people in 148 studies found that loneliness is associated with a 50% increase in mortality from any cause, making it comparable to smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and much more dangerous than obesity.
Many different factors might contribute to loneliness, but you needn’t be an intellectual titan to gather that prolonged involuntary isolation has a profoundly negative impact on the psyche. Not solitude, which is by choice, but isolation. There’s a very big difference.
Addiction is a disease of isolation, and according to a Brookings Institution study, it thrives when people and communities don’t. One study cited in the Washington Post by former U.S. secretary of health and human services Alex M. Azar II suggests that for every one percentage point increase in the unemployment rate in past recessions, the opioid death rate increased by more than 3%.
“It’s when you feel alone, stigmatized and hopeless that you are most vulnerable and at risk,” said Robert Ashford, who runs a recovery center in Philadelphia and has been in recovery for seven years. “So much of addiction has nothing to do with the substance itself. It has to do with pain or distress or needs that aren’t being met.”
“Someone trying to recover from a substance use disorder has a physiological hypersensitivity to stress due to the effects of the substance on their central nervous system,” John Kelly, PhD, director of the Recovery Research Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital, told the Washington Post. “They’re just more easily stressed than other people. . . chronically exposing the brain to drugs like opioids decreases a person’s ability to experience normal levels of reward. Reduced enjoyment combined with stress and isolation can really take people back over the edge into active problem use.”
And experts say public health warnings about social distancing ran counter to the advice given to opioid addicts, which is to never use alone—that way they can be revived with the opioid-overdose antidote naloxone, or someone can call 911.
“We’re seeing more overdose cases going straight to the morgue rather than to the emergency department.” — Daniel Buccino, Clinical manager of the Johns Hopkins Broadway Center for Addiction
“He was home alone a lot more,” Tara Reil of East Barre, VT, told the New York Times. Her son, Jefrey, died of an accidental overdose after relapsing in June 2020. “And I think the drug became his friend. . . Usually he would use with somebody, especially if it’s a different dealer or different batch. I don’t think he had that person to use with, to have that safety net.”
Sandy Rivera, an emergency medical technician in Union City, N.J., described the abrupt change in cases her ambulance was responding to during lockdowns. For weeks, it had been nearly all respiratory illnesses. Then, suddenly, almost half her cases became overdoses and suicide attempts—a ratio she'd never encountered in fifteen years working on ambulances.
“One night, that’s all I had,” Rivera told the Washington Post. One emergency involved someone who’d taken a bottle of Tylenol. Another occurred after a woman downed medication belonging to her children. The next call was about someone who took ten Benadryl pills with alcohol.
“They were cries for help,” she said.
“With the lockdown, it feels as though every step of progress as well as every healthy avenue of support was ripped from me via government fiat. Church, socializing, therapy/support groups, even the very outdoors were no longer at my disposal to help me in this time when I needed them most. All of my family is out of state and I cannot get to anyone due to the various state lockdowns. I’m isolated, powerless, and in despair which is a dangerous recipe for me.” — Anonymous (Source: Jeffrey Tucker, Brownstone Institute)
Karen Butcher of Scott County, KY, believes the draconian pandemic response is why her son, Matthew, died of an overdose in May 2020.
“He was lonely. He was depressed. He didn't have a reason any more to get up and keep going,” she told NPR. “And then, all this money flows in because of unemployment. So you're isolated, you have lots of money, and your coping skill has always been drug use.”
The money she’s referring to came from the CARES Act, which is widely believed to have contributed to the increase in overdoses as a result of people with substance use disorders using the cash to purchase drugs. So, not only were people isolated for an inordinate amount of time while subjected to the corporate media's hysteria machine and other external stressors while deprived of virtually every healthy outlet they'd come to rely on, they were also flush with sizeable stimulus payments courtesy of a federal government run by individuals beholden to woefully inadequate understandings of basic economics.
The High Costs of Pathological Risk Aversion
Often, there were added barriers to effective treatment. Thanks to the “abundance of caution” mentality proselytized by Fauci and Birx, many patients were loath to seek help for fear of contracting covid, while others had nowhere to go after addiction treatment centers struggled to remain solvent and stay open. Even “drop-in centers” that would normally provide support, clean syringes, and naloxone cut back services that weren’t restored until late 2021.
At West Virginia University Medicine, for example, the need to stop using double-occupancy rooms effectively cut inpatient capacity in half. And in May 2020, Austin Recovery Network, the oldest addiction treatment provider in Texas, shuttered its clinics after the board of the nonprofit told staff members that it was only a matter of time until they ran out of money.4
Even for clinics that managed to stay afloat, pathological “risk mitigation” led to limited services. This tracks with federal data showing that the vast majority of people with an opioid addiction were not accessing medication-assisted treatment options like methadone or buprenorphine that significantly reduce overdose risk.
Patient access to non-pharmacologic treatments requiring person-to-person contact plummeted as well, the logical conclusion of “social distancing,” the wondrously unscientific non-pharmaceutical intervention premised upon the notion that obsessively shunning one another would not only protect people from a highly contagious airborne respiratory virus but eventually help eradicate it from the face of the earth as well.
It wasn't just a matter of overdose and alcohol-related deaths; it’s believed that lockdowns created more addicts.
Liberally prescribing opioids, which can be done through telemedicine, was a faster and easier “no-contact” solution. Not only were there higher opioid prescription rates during the pandemic, but they were at higher doses—roughly equivalent to an additional 1.0 morphine milligrams. And on average, prescriptions were written for more than one day longer than pre-pandemic. Americans who sought help with pain management last year were more likely to receive opioids in lieu of other treatment options. One study found that despite a 16% drop in pain diagnoses compared to the previous year, prescriptions for highly addictive opioids rose 3.5% during the first six months of the pandemic.
Why This Matters
Earlier this month, a new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) — mentioned in a New York Times op-ed, surprisingly — revealed that restrictive public health measures implemented throughout the pandemic were the most likely cause of a stunning 170,000+ non-Covid excess deaths among young Americans in 2020 and 2021.5
The Economist, which was cited in the NBER study, found the number to be even higher: 199,000+. All in all, the U.S. mortality rate for working-age adults was 26% higher than pre-pandemic levels.
I mentioned at the beginning of this post that this is a subject matter I'm intimately familiar with. That’s because in July 2020, I lost the only girl I've ever loved when she overdosed, alone. She was 29.
I’m now 30 years old, but people often say that I look much older. When they tell me this, it usually comes out as if they didn’t mean to say it, as if they forgot that it might make the person feel bad, might hurt. I always say it’s okay, it’s just an observation—an accurate one, considering I’m graying pretty badly. But really, it’s a reminder that whatever it is I’m carrying around — sadness, heartache, grief — lives close to the surface, always coming up for air, and though I do my best to keep it veiled, to hide it by posturing with normalcy, sometimes it surfaces without warning.
I often oscillate between marrow-deep guilt and jaw-clenching bitterness (the former more so than the latter), and when I think of her, the past catches inside me like cloth on a fence wire, and there’s a constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing, and I’m filled with a nostalgia for what was and what could’ve been but now is not and will never be.
That’s what hurts the most: Looking ahead to the future and knowing she’s not in it. In this way, the life I’m trying to live is spoiled by the one I can’t.
Some people say that time heals all wounds, as if the passing of each year helps make the sharp edges of life go smooth. But I can't help but feel like these are the sort of people who trade in useless platitudes and mollifying adages, people who’ve led relatively pain-free lives and haven’t been introduced to life’s brutal compromises and forfeitures.
Time doesn’t heal all wounds. Tell that to Ernest Hemingway and Virginia Woolf and Hunter S. Thompson and David Foster Wallace. There are some wounds, some pains, that cannot be trivialized by time. They hurt, and that’s that. All you can do is cope as best you can, ideally without the aid of poisonous ameliorators. And even when memories begin to succumb to the pitiless tide of entropy, heartache remains, because heartache is an acid. It’s corrosive. And I’m inclined to believe that if it hurts bad enough, it sinks into your meridians and stays in you forever.
I never talk about this with anyone. Literally no one. So why am I sharing it with complete strangers?
Simply put: To humanize all of the above.
I don't want the human toll to be memory-holed. It's beyond my power to convey the disgust I feel watching the corporate media — ever the handmaidens of the very public health officials who championed our foray into a Kafkaesque dystopia — use manipulative propaganda and yet another consensus drumbeat to attribute the disastrous consequences of what could perhaps best be described as a Regime-run social engineering experiment based on overtly fraudulent pretenses to the pandemic, as if the policy decisions were predestined and inevitable. Even better is the notion that they “did the best they could with what they knew at the time.” Tell that to the writers of the Great Barrington Declaration; tell that to the experts ostracized and censored and pilloried for pointing out the need for basic cost-benefit analyses. One need only look beneath the epithelium of The Science™ to know what a farce this is.
Vaccine apartheid and punitive mandates, Orwellian censorship by Big Tech and policies of segregation, curtailment of liberties and the repression of the working class—for two years we were subjected to an ever-changing, neurosis-fueled faux existential crisis propagated by a hysteria-driven, fear-based media apparatus that itself was dependent upon induced societal responses disproportionate to the true level of risk posed by covid, an extremely age-stratified disease.
And the folks who participated in increasingly authoritarian campaigns for overly-restrictive “mitigation measures” either explicitly or implicitly predicated on the zero-covid zeitgeist while simultaneously casting opprobrium on those who didn’t adopt the same degree of performative alarmism even when it became indisputable that the vaccines do not prevent transmission and no amount of masking, social distancing, or locking down can eradicate an endemic, highly contagious respiratory virus—their complicity cannot be written off as “psychosis” or the “madness of crowds” or some such excuse. They were cognizant of what was happening.
Those with a fetishistic relationship with safety would have you believe that they’re noble, virtuous people who care about others just as much as themselves. Nothing could be further from the truth. Safetyism is an existence premised upon fanatical self-regard; in the context of the pandemic, it has manifested as a submission to fear by those so scared of dying that they’re afraid to live. When all that matters is the calculus of the most risk-averse individuals, you end up with the ruling class's oppressive imperative to health and all its disastrous socioeconomic costs.
Nevertheless, the architects and their rank and file partisan jackals won’t ever have to atone for their sociopathy and solipsistic navel-gazing, which was masked as communitarian benevolence (“Follow the science!”; “Just stay home!”; “Your mask protects me!”). Nor will they have to account for why they applauded deeply divisive policies requiring forced acquiescence to the permanency of recurring, compulsory injections by decrees justified with constantly shifting and contradictory criteria, or why they pushed wildly alarmist propaganda to convince the public that contracting the virus would put one in mortal danger and it was therefore absolutely imperative that everyone stay locked in their homes and treat each other like vectors of disease, kids included.
I've accepted this, and I don't look at “them” with vindictiveness or blame. Unlike the covid cult, I make a conscious effort to keep my limbic brain from defaulting to a Manichean worldview.
But I won't forget, and I hope you won't, either.
Meanwhile, the money spent on lockdown compensation, much of it reckless and some even corrupt, was denied to other welfare uses.