View Full Version : In the wake of Afghanistan's poppy fields re-planted

Drew Phipps
03-04-2015, 01:19 PM

Heroin-Related Deaths Have Quadrupled in America

New federal data reports bad news for America's heroin problem Heroin-related deaths quadrupled in the U.S. within just three years, according to new federal data. The new report from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) shows that from 2010 to 2013, drug-poisoning deaths involving heroin increased fourfold, from 0.7 deaths per 100,000 people to 2.7 deaths per 100,000 people. The rate was about four times higher among men than among women in 2013.

Heroin-related drug-poisoning deaths have increased in all age groups, races and ethnic groups, the data show. Every region in the U.S. also experienced an increase, and the Midwest experienced the biggest jump. One reason for the spike is America’s growing painkiller problem. The NCHS released another report (http://time.com/3721251/cdc-pain-killers/) last month showing that significantly more people over age 20 are using opioids. The number of people who used a painkiller stronger than morphine increased from 17% to 37% from the early 2000s to about a decade later.


People who are hooked on painkillers may make the switch to heroin since it’s cheaper and doesn’t need a prescription, according to Dr. Andrew Kolodny, the chief medical officer of the Phoenix House, a national nonprofit drug and alcohol-rehabilitation organization. Both drugs come from the opium poppy and therefore offer a similar high. “We are seeing heroin deaths sky rocketing because we have an epidemic of people addicted to opioids. There are new markets like suburbs where heroin didn’t used to exist,” says Kolodny. (He was not involved in the research.)

Prior data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that painkillers are a growing problem. In 2014, the CDC reported (http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/opioid-prescribing/) that physicians wrote 259 million painkiller prescription in a single year — the equivalent of a bottle of pills per American — and almost 50 Americans die every day from a prescription-painkiller overdose. The agency recommends that states run prescription-drug prescribing databases to track overprescribing and consider policies that reduce risky prescribing practices.

As states (http://time.com/3723805/naloxone-heroin-overdose-drug-ohio/) and the White House (http://www.whitehouse.gov/ondcp/news-releases/2016-budget-opioid-resources) struggle to tackle opioid addiction, some experts are skeptical about whether such efforts are enough to solve the problem. “We are dealing with the worst drug epidemic in our history,” says Kolodny. “There’s no evidence it’s plateauing.”

David Guyatt
03-05-2015, 08:35 AM
I find it highly relevant that the graph showing the increase in heroin deaths (2002-2013) corresponds almost exactly with the US war in Afghanistan (2001 - 2014), by far the world's largest heroin producer:


This correlation shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. Almost anywhere the US wages war in the world, narcotic trafficking follows. This occurred in the Vietnam war where heroin shipments to the US was the business of the CIA (see Prof. Alfred McCoys seminal book on the subject "The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia"). Since that time cocaine followed what became a highly successful and exceptionally profitable CIA business model - and now we're back to heroin in Afghanistan.

For me it's a real pity - and an obvious dereliction of responsibility - that Time Magazine hadn't the balls to take this story in this direction. But then, the US media has well learned many lessons about publishing stories that fly in the face of US government criminality, and don't inform the public or interfere in the US state sponsored narcotics trade. Ask the colleagues of Gary Webb at the San Jose Mercury News who ran to preserve their jobs and ultimately abandoned Webb -- having earlier feted him. These days no one wants to remember that the National Society of Professional Journalists awarded Webb the prestigious Journalist of the Year 1996, for his Dark Alliance series.

So, don't expect the main media to ever tell the full story about the drugs trade again.