It seems to be the case that some opioid addicts transition from using prescribed medication to illegally obtained medication, which is sometimes illegally produced and adulterated with other drugs. So, it seems that legalizing the recreational use of opiates would enable people to use the "authentic" version of the drug, which is safer.
On the other hand, there are tons of overdoses from prescribed opiates, which are legally obtained; and the overdoses are increasing. Contra my earlier belief, it seems that as access to opiates became easy and legal (via prescriptions), the number of addicts increased dramatically.
This seems to be a situation in which tens of thousands of people will die every year via ingestion of legal drugs unless some kind of intervention is made to remove their access to those drugs. It's hard to see how legalization or decriminalization would make a big difference.
I'm not sure if the opiate overdoes epidemic is a clear strike against legalization, but it is surely a cautionary tale about supporting a system of all drugs being open sale of unlimited quantities and unlimited advertising. I support some form of drug legalization but, unlike food that is controlled for content but not much else, legal drugs will need more regulation.
Putting aside the more libertarian approach to legalization where hard drugs are left to the market and profits are made off of their sale, there are other options.
For instance, where drug use is legal, manufacture is illegal, and addicts are able to get free doses while under the supervision of medical staff. The free availability undercuts any potential black market, supervision severely reduces the potential for overdose, and the medical staff is able to have a regular conversation with the patient about options for getting clean.
Moreover, by turning drug use into a medical and welfare issue, it's my belief that it will prevent addiction by removing the "romance" of hard drug use for first time users.
Marijuana is a totally different story, it's benign enough that market legalization works just fine. But for opiates and amphetamines and the like, you need a very different approach.
That said, the opiate epidemic has shown that we have a problem of overprescription that stems from the pharmaceutical industry, and that's something we'd have to address if we were ever to move towards this approach.
It has been transmuted into hyper addictive nutritionless junk and it’s marketed with all the strength of humanity’s brightest, with no regard to the legions who now suffer obesity related disability, diabetes, etc.
When that same marketing machine gets its hands on marijuana, I’m sure it’ll make the world suffer.
And if you think to use alcohol as a counter example, think twice because the USA regulates it harder than most. GB is closer to laissez faire, and their alcoholism rates’ increase resembles our obesity.
So what? Nothing is worse than the prison system. Literally, nothing. Risk of death by overdose does not justify shoveling people into the horrific US correctional system.
> tens of thousands of people will die every year via ingestion of legal drugs unless some kind of intervention is made to remove their access to those drugs.
Thousands of deaths per year? That's your justification for giving the prison system more chum? (500k per year: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_incarceration_ra... )
I don't mean to be emotional, but: I'm curious if you've ever known anyone who spent time in prison, and have heard their candid description of it.
It's on you to make the case that "saving a drug user's life" is achieved by sending them to the worst place on earth.
I mean, everyone knows you can overdose. So that makes it a conscious choice, and we should preserve people's ability to make an informed choice to put themselves in danger.
Well, a base jumper is, well, dead when the parachute fails. You maybe need someone to scrape the remains off the ground, but that's it.
Drug addictions and ODs, as well as the side effects from criminalization (prison/judicial costs, drug related crime) end up costing a boatload of money, plus a highly aggressive user of coke, meth or multiple drugs is often enough a public danger.
Addiction changes the brain, there may have been a day when they made a choice but soon it was made for them.
Several of my former classmates have died from heroin/fentanyl. They were looking for help, they were trying to get clean, they were good kids. It destroyed their families and has put enormous strain on our police and ems.
Talk about legalization, fine, but "let them die" is just callous.
You know what? I am too. If you spoke to me years ago, I'd say much of the danger from opiates comes from not knowing what dose you're taking. Much of the crime comes from the price (due to it being black market). Much of the crime comes from addicts who can't afford their fix (due to the price) or rival dealer (who can't settle disputes in the courts).
Now I think maybe a decriminalization for hard drugs would be better. Purchasing / possessing is not criminalized (or subject to a small fine, like smoking a joint in public is treated in weed-legal states.
(I'm also in support of the states that have ramped up their age to buy tobacco to 21)
Everywhere else you don't hear about "opioid epidemic"
It's surprisingly hard to OD with a clean supply, measured dosing, and emergency services on site. I don't think that clean, supervised drug use is actually any more dangerous than say... skydiving or bungee-jumping.
(It's actually hard to fatally OD with just one vaguely sober person an nasal naloxone, but that's more specific to opiates.)
With additional data, government can be more proactive in preventing addiction in the first place.
Just produce cheap opioids and dump them in our borders, we'll take care of the rest.
Or maybe they're already doing it.
The number of overdose deaths in the EU is ~7500 there, and there is no similar large increase since 2006 (the data in that report doesn't go as far back as the NY Times article data for the US). The report cautions that there is underreporting in some countries, but even then the number seems to be much lower than in the US.
When have I heard that before?
Maybe during the crack epidemic. Or the meth epidemic. Now it's the opioids' turn.
"But this time it's different," I'm sure.
That seems... Unreasonable.
If a problem is growing, every iteration should be the worst in history.
I am not so worried about drugs as I am about false advertising and lack of awareness. I agree with the main point though. We need to treat this as a health and wellness issue, not as a crime. At the very least, possession itself (yes I'm making a whole sale statement) should not be a crime. Now if folks start selling poorly labeled drugs, the seller I'm ok vilifying.
There are indeed many drug panics. This one is the real thing.
To this view I would reply with the idea, attributed to Socrates, that there is no such thing as "moral weakness", or that doing good and bad amounts to knowledge of what is good or bad or a lack of it (keeping in mind knowledge could be more than merely mental abstractions).
Now unless this idea can be disproven, how can "moral weakness" be used as a justification to ignore the plight of these people?
“ ... as long as American life was something to be escaped from, the cartel would always be assured a bottomless pool of new customers.” -Pynchon
The not deserving of much sympathy really brings it home. After all, rural white hillbillies don't deserve sympathy, I guess? I'd say that's rather prejudiced and, no, I'm not white.
> Opioids (including prescription opioids, heroin, and fentanyl) killed more than 33,000 people in 2015, more than any year on record. Nearly half of all opioid overdose deaths involve a prescription opioid.
When a person gets hooked on opioids, never cut them off cold turkey. At the end of a surgery/injury/treatment with prescribed opioids for pain, our current system makes users go from regularly used/available to not at all, or once addiction is noticed then access ended immediately. This is the root cause of the problem, from there people go out and get street opioids, sometimes heroin and sometimes it is cheapened by fentanyl where you get a few specs of it and you OD. Basically, the cutting off of the user access to the drug from regularly available to none is the MAJOR problem here.
What we need to do is this, taper people off if possible, if not then why not let them continue to get them until they can ween themselves off through rehab. Basically all opioid patients can get them as long as they need but it switches from the doctor to a healthcare specialist in controlling addictions at the end of every opioid prescribed treatment. Some will not need this but for the ones that have been on them for a while due to pain/rehab, there would be no cold turkey stopping. At least if people are hooked, this prevents them from going out and getting heroin laced with fentanyl that could be deadly. We are basically setting people up to die this way in our current system.
Every solution I have seen is to be harsher on doctors expecting them to control it, or harsher on the amounts they give, all that is strong arm tactics and pushing liability on people that don't want it making the problem intensely worse. Instead we should put the liability of addiction on the patient themselves and give them options to help themselves with education and rehab, don't just cut them off and leave them on their own.
We need a health layer in our system that helps people with addictions and getting quality drugs that aren't going to kill them as some people will just do that and some need help, we can pay for it by ending the War on Drugs. Pharmaceuticals will go along with this plan because it allows people to keep getting pharma drugs as long as they need to get off of them, but users won't be doing it alone, nor trying to stop cold turkey. This type of policy will help a large portion of at least the opioid addicts that get hooked through regular medical channels.
Ending the War on Drugs while using that money for healthcare/rehab instead of incarceration, allowing other low level substances like cannabis, and providing people a path to take when they finish with their medical treatment if they find they have an addiction is better. Once the US stops treating drug usage and addictions as a crime and start viewing them as health issues or manageable issues with lower level substances, this will all be much, much better.
(My brain read it as “overlords” and I was trying to understand why I made that mistake.)