Many people are aware of the opioid crisis that is sweeping through America but nobody seems to care. This problem isn’t just affecting the inner cities but rural towns as well. My town of 4,000 people has experienced several overdose deaths in the past few years which goes to show that the problem is nationwide, maybe even in your neighborhood.
The mainstream media has neglected to cover the growing problem that killed 33,091 people in 2015. Compare that to the number of people killed by a foreign born terrorist on U.S soil and you will be shocked. The Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) asserts that 18 Americans were killed by foreign born terrorists in 2014 (most recent year of study). Using those numbers, you are 1,800 times more likely to die from a opioid overdose than from a terrorist attack, yet this country has a terrorism fetish. It is another example of how the establishment media misleads the American people. Fear attracts viewership and that is what the perceived threat of terrorism supplies.
On the other side of the coin, we have a corrupt system that encourages opioid intake. The number of opioid prescriptions per 100 people currently stands at 70.6, by far the highest rate in the world. Now that number has actually come down since 2010 where there were 81.2 prescriptions for every 100 people. While that results in some good news, their is bad news as well. The length of prescriptions has increased from 13 days to 18 days. This is a problem because it increases the odds of addiction. 4 in 5 new heroin users started out with prescription painkillers which highlights how addictive painkillers can be and why the black market has gained popularity. People are becoming increasingly addicted to heroin due to the fact that prescription opioids are “too expensive and more difficult to obtain.”
Now that the upsetting information is out in the open, lets try to look for solutions. It is a very difficult task since heroin and other opioids are already illegal. Firstly, lets admit that the “War on Drugs” has been a MAJOR failure. America’s drug problem has gotten immensely worse since Richard Nixon’s infamous declaration of war. All we have to show for it is the highest per capita incarceration rate in the world and increased drug addictions. We have to end the “War on Drugs” and stop treating drug addiction as a criminal act and treat it as a health problem instead.
In an ideal world, researchers would have spent the past several decades analyzing the effectiveness of marijuana as a pain reliever. Pot use certainly has its consequences but is not nearly as harmful as many prescription drugs. Luckily, medical marijuana is now legalized in 29 states. As previously mentioned, the majority of heroin addicts get their start with prescription opioids. If we can substitute marijuana or other less addicting drugs to treat pain, less people will get hooked on deadly opioids. This theory is supported by a 2014 study conducted in JAMA Internal Medicine. The study found that states with medical marijuana laws saw 24.8 percent fewer overdose deaths than states that did not have such laws.
One method I have always used to develop my political views is ask myself “what do other countries do?” So lets ask what do other countries do? Some countries like Portugal have completely decriminalized all drugs, including heroin, cocaine, etc. The results have been favorable. Now I think that is completely unrealistic here in the U.S so lets not go down that road. Some European countries have been experimenting with opioid injection facilities that have also had good results. Essentially, users can bring their drugs to a facility that is supervised by medical professionals and shoot up with needles provided by the facility to ensure they are safe and sterile. Now this is a very eerie scenario but it has been endorsed by many medical professionals and organizations such as the American Medial Association (AMA). Massachusetts recently began looking into the solution but it is still in the early stages of development. What we have been doing hasn’t been working so why not try something new?