There is seldom anything more tragic than a 20 year old with a family, a lover and a bright and promising future being discovered face down in some filthy alley, spittle on the lips, needle in the arm. Yet this is precisely the way that a ever-growing share of America’s youth, the lifeblood of our great nation, are ending up. According to the CDCP (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) in the past 16 years over 183,000 Americans have died from overdoses related to proscription opioids – and that is only those that are tied to legally traded drugs obtained from pharmacies and doctors; it does not account from those deaths related to illegally traded drugs on the blackmarket or those that are stolen. The opioid crisis is now being called the worst drug epidemic in US history. This is not hyperbole, drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death in the US and are responsible for the majority of all deaths for Americans under the age of 50. More people have now died from opioids than died during the AIDs crisis of the 1990s. The scourge is so monumental that is has now been estimated that more have died from opioid overdoses in the last 10 years than died during 20 years of of military engagement in Vietnam.
There are a great deal of opioids on the market, both the legal market and the underground bazaars, and even more names from them, including: Captain Cody, Cody, Schoolboy, Doors & Fours, Pancakes & Syrup, Loads, M, Miss Emma, Monkey, White Stuff, Demmies, Pain killer, Apache, China girl, Dance fever, Goodfella, Murder 8, Tango and Cash, China-white, Friend, Jackpot, TNT, Oxy 80, Oxycat, Hillbilly heroin, Percs, Perks, Juice as well as Dillies. However, a couple names stand out from the rest. The proscription pain-killers Vicodin, Oxycotin and Percocet as well as the drug, diamorphine (Heroin) all have had majors roles to play in the drug epidemic but they are not currently the leading cause of death from opioids. That “honor” goes to the high-potency pain-reliever Fetanyl.
Fetanyl is a opiate that is far, far more potent than Heroin – it is 50 times more potent than Heroin and 100 times more toxic than morphine – which is generally used during medical operations that would cause intense pain as a numbing agent as it binds to receptors in the brain and nullifies unpleasant sensation. However, just like with the aforementioned trio of Vicodin, Oxycotin and Percocet, it is also highly addictive. The prevalence of proscription drugs like Oxycotin has led to a vicious cycle of dependency and primal-brain reward-seeking whereby a individual will utilize a drug like Oxycotin or Vicodin, become addicted, find that they cannot afford to fuel their habit legally and then turn to Heroin or black market Fetanyl cut with other substances (often nearly, or just as dangerous substances), because it is much, much cheaper.
Some of the states most hard-hit by the drug-plague include Appalachia, pro-drug Vermont and Washington D.C.
In tandem with the $ 800 billion cut-back to Medicaid proposed by the Trump Administration, the increasing death-toll from the drug crisis has re-ignited a nationwide debate about how often doctor erronously write subscriptions, how often normal people are using and abusing and the extent of various blackmarket and cartel influences as well as what should be done about it all. There has not been much in the way of a coherent answer but several things are imminently clear; firstly, this is a tremendous problem and it certainly is not garnering the attention it so rightly deserves. Additionally, any and all talk of regulations or laws should only ever be a secondary consideration for the core issue here is, initially, personal responsibility. Whilst many conservatives do not do the subject just when they say things like, “Its just a question of willpower,” there is much to this, especially if this is applied to situations where a individual is yet to become an addict. This is axiomatic: if you have not taken or are not yet “hook” on hard-drugs then it is, in no uncertain wise, incumbent, primarily, upon the individual to extricate themselves from the situation and not bow out to hedonism, thrill-seeking or peer pressure. After a given individual has become addicted the equation changes markedly, especially when one is discussion opioids which attach themselves to the pleasure-reward centers of the brain (opioid centers, hence the name) associated with sex, water and food and magnify the pleasure as well as the pleasure-seeking incentive. Physical dependence can theoretically become with sheer willpower but it is so rare that it is irrational for most common people to be expected to accomplish this titian task for it is like asking them to completely cease drinking water or eating food or having a compulsion to copulate only magnified several fold. Therefore, as they say, the best strategy or solution to the problem is prevention but that leaves out all of the individuals scattered across these many United States who are currently addicted to opioids; who are suffering and dejected and hopeless. So what of them? My answer would be either take the government out of it entirely and let the individual communities handle it or have the government take complete control over the situation via a country-wide task-force and a rehabilitation and reintegration program. No half-measures.
Whilst we have here covered the internal national problem of over-subscription of pain-killers there is another worm in the apple which must be discussed; the Cartels. The Mexican Drug Cartels are a huge source of numerous illegal narcotics that are killing our citizenry in record number at record rates. The cartels have a very diverse ranger of goods and services but, to the U.S., they primarily supply: heroin, cocaine and Fentanyl. According to former FBI Director, James Comey, the cartels have increased their production of heroin in Mexico which greatly decreases their reliance on their previous source for the deadly opiate, South America. This greatly reduces the cost incurred to the cartels from shipping which means they can now sell heroin at a much, much cheaper price and devote a greater deal of manpower and resources to primary market distribution. Good news for them, bad news for us. Politicians such as William Brownfield, the current U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for the International Narcotics & Law Enforcement Affairs, has stated that a solution to the cartel problem will be complex and require extensive cooperation with Mexico. Whilst I would heartily agree that it would be immensely preferable to acquire extensive aid from Mexico to help stop the cartel’s drugs from flowing into our borders they are basically a failed state that is run by the very people we should be seeking out and destroying. Regardless of whether or not the U.S. can bring on-board whatever fragment of law and order that remains in Mexico, the Cartels must be destroyed, all of them, and the border secured.
If you think such a declaration to be a touch too melodramatic for your liking consider the fact that the Mexican drug cartels kill over 20,000 per year – and that is only through direct violence, it says nothing of the droves of people who have been killed because of the filth which they peddle. Rates of violence in Mexico are currently so high that they well surpass many conflict zones in which the United States is or has been embroiled, such as Afghanistan and Iraq.
The phrase, “War on drugs,” has always irked me. It is like declaring a, “War on food,” drugs will always be around and in some cases (such as the use of opioids and opiates in the treatment of chronic pain), they should be. But a war must be waged, not on “drugs” but on those who do willfully and maliciously propagate them, on those who push them and those who encourage their use and thereby pollute and corrode the very fabric of our esteemed Republic. It is a war which must be total and absolute.
Kaiter Enless is a novelist, artist and contributing writer for New Media Central and Thermidor Magazine. He is also the founder & chief-editor of The Logos Club. Follow him online here.