our own private idaho

“This road never ends. It probably goes all around the world. “

My Own Private Idaho 

This is a phrase taken directly from the 1980 dance pop song, “Your Own Private Idaho” by the outrageous party band, the B-52’s.

It means “living inside an Idaho potato”, or a very small space. Metaphorically, it refers to someone who is not paying attention because he is daydreaming, or under the influence, or otherwise wrapped up within his own very narrow sphere of interest or frame of reference.

Car Driver: Damn! That guy just pulled out in front of me as if I weren’t here! We almost crashed!

Passenger: Yeah, he’s just yakking away on his cellphone, in his own private Idaho.

i came across these photos of river phoenix from one of my favorite films – “my own private idaho” from gus van sant. river was a very popular and de rigeur public figure who died from a heroin overdose  on halloween night while hanging out at johnny depp’s then  popular santa monica nightclub “viper”.

this event played out on that night in 1993 as has become more normal than anomaly. according the cdc -at least 78 americans die every day from overdoses-all opioid not all heroin. this seems an epidemic that is crippling our nations emotional structure..80 families (and more) per day are being torn apart from the inside from losses like the phoenix family faced back then.

 “More people died from drug overdoses in 2014 than in any year on record. The majority of drug overdose deaths (more than six out of ten) involve an opioid.1 And since 1999, the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids (including prescription opioid pain relievers andheroin) nearly quadrupled.2 From 2000 to 2014 nearly half a million people died from drug overdoses. 78 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.” reposted from the cdc.

to murky up the picture even more- its not just opiate deaths that are rising, its much more . president obama just led a summit on prescription drug overdoses. time magazine’s chris wilson wrote:

It’s not just opioids and heroin. Fatal overdoses of other drugs are also steeply on the rise

President Obama addressed the National Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin summit in Atlanta Tuesday, calling further attention to the drug epidemic in America just two weeks after the Centers for Disease Control issued new recommendations on limited the use of narcotic painkillers. Data clearly shows that opioid and heroin addiction have become an epidemic in the past 15 years.

But prescription painkillers and heroin are not the only drugs whose use has exploded in the past 15 years. Using the same CDC database that tracks the growth in fatal opioid and heroin overdoses, TIME collected data on cocaine, benzodiazepines (sedatives like Valium and Xanax) and stimulants like crystal meth. All three categories have risen dramatically since the year 2000, as the following charts show. see charts here

as a recovery advocate- overdose deaths are a bit over my league. but as a citizen and community member, i am compelled to listed to our younger advocates like justin luke riley and greg williams- both of whom are founding members of young people in recovery and share the task of heralding the new message- that talking about recovery being a solution is not enough. we have to more aggressively address this overdose issue. our friends and neighbors are dying at impossible rates and there is not much being done.

i haven’t quite realized how i can be of service in this area, but i know that i have to do something.  i lived through the 80’s and 90’s when thousands of gay men were dying and there was nothing that we seemed to be able to do. but things changed and that situation changed. same thing- different day.


americans have become connoisseurs of roads we’ve been tasting all kinds of roads. just look at our society and politics. we’ve been sleepwalkers. somnambulists. we’ve had narcolepsy. it’s such a difficult problem to wrap our collective heads around, we haven’t even tried. this needs to change. today. with me.




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