NEW HAMPSHIRE has a big problem.

Our problem in New Hampshire has three elements. Treatment, supply and last and unfortunately least, demand.

Could it be that we have misnamed the opioid crisis? If so that would misdirect resources aimed at its solution. The six blind men attempting to describe an elephant by its appendages failed to identify this massive animal. One thing we know for certain is that for the first time in recent history, life expectancy has begun to decline and suicide rates have increased 20-plus percentage points in recent years. Death seems to have become an alternative to hope in some cohorts.

Will and Ariel Durant took 11 volumes to establish that the “History of Civilization” required three things for a happy ending: First seemed to be a stable, family-based society, second, support by a religious organization and finally, early marriage for proper hormone utilization, among other benefits.

Roommates with benefits don’t count.

Unfortunately, two out of three don’t count either.

We now have trend lines going in the wrong direction in all three elements. Who knew that there could be real casualties in a culture war? We are now seeing big numbers of killed and wounded.

They must be coming from somewhere.

Cutting to the chase could be the underlying development of despair in society.

Giving up is often done in stages. Winding down, taking a break from the pressure, relaxing ones nerves, justifies all levels of chemical additives. Adding pot to this mix can’t be helpful. Choose your poison is not a throwaway line anymore. Lives are on the line and the numbers tell us that throwing them away is an increasing phenomenon.

The challenge goes far beyond the supply of pills and powder, bottle and syringe. Continued interdiction of supply is worth the effort. Working the demand side has been barely attempted.

Keep in mind the killer is despair.

It kills the mind and then the body in statistically significant numbers. Physical addiction is a power in itself.

We know that AA for one, has proven that belief in a higher power is a powerful antidote.

Ninety percent of Americans believe in a higher power. Those in government are barred by the politically correct police from saying or acting on the four words printed or engraved on each and every piece of U.S. currency.

We date each day from a religious event.

There is hope.

We still have a vast global network of practitioners of hope.

This is a strength in New Hampshire.

Many visit them once a week and thus provide support to others who do the same. Organized worship was not an add-on to the successful march of civilization. It was and is an essential ingredient. It has much new work to do.

Elephants can be tamed if we can be honest about these powerful creatures. All creatures are far more complex than first perceived. Despair is prevented with universal vaccinations of hope.

Jack Falvey lives in Londonderry and is an adjunct professor at Boston College. His column, Investor Education Briefs, appears in the Monday Business pages of the New Hampshire Union Leader.