America is at war.
While this statement could easily be applied to the seemingly endless quagmires in Afghanistan (and somehow still Iraq), I’m in this instance referring to a much more homegrown and deadlier war for Americans.
Like the superpower Ming Empire before it, the United States is facing an opium war.
Of course, for us, instead of smoke dens and British warships to contend with we have a much more powerful and flexible foe who has evaded countless attempts at its livelihood for nearly a century. Our enigmatic beast is obviously big Pharma.
While the American ‘war on drugs’ has been waged for decades upon decades, the number of users of all manner have only increased. Surprise… prohibition doesn’t work. But while that’s less a surprising/concerning trend and more an ‘I told you so’ moment, much more genuinely troubling is the skyrocketing rate of opiate addiction and related deaths in America.
The onus of the drug war has always been emphasized on illegal drugs, with widespread illicit imports like cocaine garnering most federal attention. Even when the scope shrinks to solely opiates the focus of the feds is clearly on heroin, an extremely illegal substance.
But talk to any struggling addict and you’ll learn what they already know to be the truth; heroin isn’t the source of the epidemic, it’s merely a symptom.
One thing people not familiar with the heroin scene (which is a good thing) tend to find most surprising is heroin is not regarded by addicts, dealers, or professionals addressing the crises as even remotely an upgrade on prescription pain pills. Next to nobody starts out on heroin, which is cheaper to an extreme compared to prescription pill’s street prices that can reach nearly $100 for a single massive dose pill; a general rate to keep in mind for street sales of, say oxycodone, is $1 per mg of the ‘good stuff’. Instead, addicts might be forced to turn to heroin when the highs just aren’t doing it anymore; but much more common is for the simple fact that they can’t economically sustain popping pills they prefer.
The pills commonly find themselves sold on the street, be it by non-addicted average folk who have their hands on a hallowed prescription for a health issue, or more malicious actors working semi-legitimately within the wild world of pharmaceuticals.
Opiate addicts are hardly universally ‘shady street rats’ rather they’re athletes, doctors, lawyers, even grandmas. Americans who would never dream of finding themselves in a situation leading to addiction, consistently find themselves spiraling into one which many times leads to death. To understand why you need only look at the numbers to see it isn’t cartels or street pushers, its doctors and pharmaceuticals.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse has time and time again proven this to be the case, with data displaying about 80% of heroin users were hooked on pills prior to even trying heroin for the first time. Now while that statistic alone doesn’t implicitly condemn pharmaceuticals, compound that with irrevocable and settled cases of egregiously pushing opiates and the case is closed.
While America is trying to wake from its addled stupor to combat the now National Emergency that is the opiate crisis, it might be a good idea to listen to the actual addicts when listening to the culprits. Instead, pharma has only gotten bigger, stronger, and less enforced against.
We may not be facing a British blockade, but the American Empire might be more at risk of collapsing in a poppy induced coma of addiction and economic burdens than Pfizer would have you believe. Hopefully, we wake up.