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posted by martyb on Tuesday August 18 2015, @09:02PM   Printer-friendly
from the will-it-help-or-hinder? dept.

The White House announced a new Heroin Response Strategy on Monday to combat a "heroin/opioid epidemic" across 15 states in the northeast:

The Office of National Drug Control Policy said it would spend $2.5 million to hire public safety and public health coordinators in five areas in an attempt to focus on the treatment, rather than the punishment, of addicts. The funding — a sliver of the $25.1 billion that the government spends every year to combat drug use — will help create a new "heroin response strategy" aimed at confronting the increase in use of the drug. A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that heroin-related deaths had nearly quadrupled between 2002 and 2013.

[...] Once thought of as a drug used only by hard-core addicts, heroin has infiltrated many communities, largely because of its easy availability and its low price, officials said. The problem has become especially severe in New England, where officials have called for a renewed effort to confront it. Gov. Peter Shumlin of Vermont devoted his entire State of the State Message in January to what he called "a full-blown heroin crisis" in his state. Like the new White House effort, the governor called for a new, treatment-based approach to the drug.

[More after the break...]

Thomas McLellan, President Obama's chief scientist for drug control policy from 2009 to 2012, said $2.5 million "is not close to the financial commitment that is needed" and that use of the opiate-blocker naloxone is a squandered second chance without proper follow-up care. Executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, Ethan Nadelmann, was also dismissive of the announcement:

Nadelmann sees drug policy as existing along a continuum, from "lock'em up, hang'em, pull out their fingernails, Singapore, Saudi Arabia" all the way down to "essentially no controls whatsoever, maybe a little for kids." Unfortunately, he says, American drug policy under Obama is way too close to the hang'em end of the spectrum—and this new heroin program won't change the administration's position much in his eyes. That's because it's a bait-and-switch. It's promoted as a treatment-first program, but the details lean heavily toward enforcement and incarceration. It calls for 15 drug intelligence officers and 15 health policy analysts to collect data on overdoses and trends in heroin trafficking. Everyone will feed the data back to a joint health-law enforcement coordination center, which will distribute the data across state lines. That's great for cops. They need fresher leads on where heroin is coming from, who is moving it, and where it's being purchased. But public health officials don't need to know the intricacies of trafficking in order to respond to an ongoing epidemic.

According to a July 7th report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the rate of heroin-related overdose deaths nearly quadrupled from 2002 to 2013, with 8,200 deaths in the year 2013. During that period, heroin use increased the most among females (100%), the 18-25 age group (109%), and non-Hispanic whites (114%). Heroin use among households with less than $20,000 of annual income increased 62%, compared to 77% for households with $20,000-$49,999, and 60% for households with $50,000 or more. Tom Frieden, head of the CDC, said that the "epidemic" is growing out of prescription opioid painkiller abuse. He estimates that heroin is available at one-fifth the cost of prescription painkillers.


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  • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 18 2015, @10:05PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 18 2015, @10:05PM (#224615)

    - Are we going to solve the problem? No.

    - Are we going to prevent all cases of addiction? No.

    That doesn't get us off the hook. We need more money for treatment programs, more interdiction and less lock 'em up enforcement for non-dealing junkies.

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  • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Tuesday August 18 2015, @10:09PM

    by bob_super (1357) on Tuesday August 18 2015, @10:09PM (#224617)

    Can't do that, sorry: All the money is used to successfully prevent terrorists from bringing in people and materials which could be used to harm Americans.

  • (Score: 3, Informative) by takyon on Tuesday August 18 2015, @10:16PM

    by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Tuesday August 18 2015, @10:16PM (#224621) Journal

    The good news is that there seems to be bipartisan support for dealing with the heroin problem in a mature way, increasing the use of naloxone [npr.org] by first [npr.org] responders [npr.org], as well as pushing forward with the political hot potato of needle exchanges [npr.org].

    The bad news is that the drug war is still very much in effect, these steps to combat heroin the right way are being taken gingerly, and there are drugs on Schedule 1 and 2 that aren't dangerous at all.

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  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Anal Pumpernickel on Tuesday August 18 2015, @10:37PM

    by Anal Pumpernickel (776) on Tuesday August 18 2015, @10:37PM (#224632)

    Not merely less "lock 'em up enforcement"; we need to stop infringing upon people's fundamental right to control their own bodies by legalizing all drugs outright. Anyone who speaks of safety as a reason to keep these drugs illegal is a coward and doesn't truly value our most basic liberties, and might as well support horrendous things like the TSA, mass surveillance, and other violations of our rights.

    • (Score: 1, Disagree) by Francis on Tuesday August 18 2015, @11:19PM

      by Francis (5544) on Tuesday August 18 2015, @11:19PM (#224657)

      This isn't a fundamental right. Show me where it is stated in the constitution that you have the right to use drugs and I'll reconsider my point of view. People regularly die as a result of ODing on heroine. I think pot and LSD are the only ones I can think of that are illegal, but don't routinely kill people.

      As far as cowards go, the right to ingest questionable substances to screw with our brains is definitely something that should be criminal. There's plenty of mood altering substances that are still perfectly legal. And plenty of mood altering activities as well. For the most part, the ones that are illegal are the ones that cause more problems with less benefit. There's no good reason why anybody should be shooting up with heroine or smoking crack.

      • (Score: 2) by frojack on Tuesday August 18 2015, @11:32PM

        by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday August 18 2015, @11:32PM (#224666) Journal

        If ALL the impact fell on the user, I'd be with the Pumpernickel.

        Somehow our inability to let someone die by their own hand keeps bringing other people and other costs into debate.

        There may be no good reasons, but there clearly are plenty of reasons why anybody should be shooting up with heroine or smoking crack.

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        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Anal Pumpernickel on Wednesday August 19 2015, @12:21AM

          by Anal Pumpernickel (776) on Wednesday August 19 2015, @12:21AM (#224697)

          If ALL the impact fell on the user, I'd be with the Pumpernickel.

          I don't know what you mean. Are you talking about the indirect effects that it may have on others when you do drugs? Because I say that freedom is more than worth it. If you go ice skating or mountain climbing, you could get hurt, and maybe taxpayers would sometimes have to foot the bill. Should we ban everything in existence that has some indirect effect on others and isn't necessary to do? I'm a freedom-minded person, so I do not think so. But apparently others are not and it leads me to question why they are living in countries that supposedly strive to be free.

          • (Score: 1) by Francis on Wednesday August 19 2015, @03:07AM

            by Francis (5544) on Wednesday August 19 2015, @03:07AM (#224757)

            Are you seriously equating pumping your body full of things that are known to be toxic, addictive and otherwise harmful with ice skating and mountain climbing? Those activities are risky, but when done with proper education and preparation are relatively safe. Some people will be injured or killed, but it's a small fraction of the total. With drugs, everybody gets hurt to some extent. You might get lucky the first few times and not notice the damage, but the only way to avoid it in the long term is to avoid doing drugs.

            Also, what you're talking about is anarchy and it never works out well. Think Lord of the Flies. Part of living in society is realizing that there need to be limits to what freedoms we can have.

            • (Score: 2) by Anal Pumpernickel on Wednesday August 19 2015, @04:05AM

              by Anal Pumpernickel (776) on Wednesday August 19 2015, @04:05AM (#224779)

              Are you seriously equating pumping your body full of things that are known to be toxic, addictive and otherwise harmful with ice skating and mountain climbing?

              I'm applying the logic that things should be banned because they can indirectly affect others to other scenarios.

              Also, what you're talking about is anarchy

              If you're going to argue with an imaginary anarchist opponent, you may as well not bother replying to me at all.

            • (Score: 1) by khallow on Wednesday August 19 2015, @04:52AM

              by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday August 19 2015, @04:52AM (#224806) Journal

              Are you seriously equating pumping your body full of things that are known to be toxic, addictive and otherwise harmful with ice skating and mountain climbing? Those activities are risky, but when done with proper education and preparation are relatively safe.

              And the same with "pumping your body full of things". Proper education and preparation (along with standardized doses) does make heroin use relatively safe. Hence, why he's comparing them.

              Also, what you're talking about is anarchy and it never works out well. Think Lord of the Flies. Part of living in society is realizing that there need to be limits to what freedoms we can have.

              So what's the magic criteria that one can't use heroin, but one can mountain climb and binge drink at the same time. I have to agree with the previous poster. You sound more interested in preventing anarchy, whatever that is supposed to mean, than having a free society. One consequence of a free society is that people will (not may) act in ways that you don't like.

              I think alcohol use indicates that one can have widespread drug use without anarchy in the streets.

        • (Score: 2) by takyon on Wednesday August 19 2015, @03:31AM

          by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Wednesday August 19 2015, @03:31AM (#224768) Journal

          Obviously heroin, crack, meth, etc. are not "good" drugs. But would decriminalization of those drugs raise their rates of use? Not necessarily. They are already very marginal compared to cannabis. Cannabis use is at around 7.5%, cocaine is around 1%, and other illicit drugs come in under 1%.

          The worst drugs are used despite the risk of prison or harm to others. Decriminalizing them would make it easier for addicts to get treatment and decrease much of the harm that the Drug War causes. By the time the U.S. switches to a sensible drug policy, we'll have driverless cars zipping around, reducing more potential drug harm...

          Man Dies in Police Raid on Wrong House [go.com]

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          • (Score: 2) by frojack on Wednesday August 19 2015, @08:50PM

            by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday August 19 2015, @08:50PM (#225171) Journal

            But would decriminalization of those drugs raise their rates of use? Not necessarily.

            I think its still an open question. It may not have increased use rates in the few other countries that have decriminalized, or it might have, but it goes unreported.

            I wonder who among US citizens fears those drugs for the effect on the user, vs who fears them for the law enforcement attention they bring.
            I rather suspect arrest and imprisonment still carry a large fear factor.

            Did decriminalization reduce alcohol use rates?
            Alcohol use rates were sky high in the US prior to outlawing alcohol sales. After prohibition ended, US alcohol use took a long time returned to those levels, and in some areas it never did return [osu.edu].

            --
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      • (Score: 2, Troll) by GungnirSniper on Tuesday August 18 2015, @11:33PM

        by GungnirSniper (1671) on Tuesday August 18 2015, @11:33PM (#224668) Journal

        If you don't have complete rights to your own person and body, what rights do you have?

        And what about the countless sufferers of our most exalted drug - alcohol? If we outlawed drugs based on the harm users do, alcohol would not stand a chance.

        • (Score: 0, Troll) by Francis on Tuesday August 18 2015, @11:43PM

          by Francis (5544) on Tuesday August 18 2015, @11:43PM (#224676)

          I take it you're in favor of disbanding the FDA and Public Health because we should have the right to ingest known toxic substances if we feel like it?

          The only reason why alcohol is legal is because people refused to obey the law, including too many law enforcement officers. It's not legal because it's good for you or safe, it's legal because there's no way to enforce the law. Alcohol and tobacco ought to be outlawed, but there's enough people that would use anyways that it's not possible at the present time.

      • (Score: 2) by deimtee on Wednesday August 19 2015, @12:16AM

        by deimtee (3272) on Wednesday August 19 2015, @12:16AM (#224692) Journal

        I'm not even American and I understand your constitution better than you. It is a list of what the government is allowed to do.
        If it is not on the the list they can't do it. The only control they have over citizens is that explicitly given.
        Now show me where in the US constitution it says "the government may control the substances you ingest / inject"
        (Hence why, back when it was more than "just a goddam piece of paper", it required the eighteenth amendment to ban alcohol.)

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      • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Anal Pumpernickel on Wednesday August 19 2015, @12:18AM

        by Anal Pumpernickel (776) on Wednesday August 19 2015, @12:18AM (#224694)

        This isn't a fundamental right.

        Incorrect. Without the right to control your own body, you barely have rights at all.

        Show me where it is stated in the constitution that you have the right to use drugs and I'll reconsider my point of view.

        Yet another person who is utterly ignorant of how the constitution works. Unless the constitution grants the government a certain power, it simply does not have that power. The constitution does not grant rights like you believe. The federal prohibition is utterly unconstitutional.

        And even if the constitution *did* work that way, that would just mean it would need to change. I don't need a document to tell me what freedoms I should have because I am not a mindless drone. If your society infringes upon rights you believe you should have, the solution is not to mindlessly obey; it is to change society. It seems you would prefer to appeal to the status quo, but nothing ever changes that way.

        People regularly die as a result of ODing on heroine.

        Once you start speaking of safety as being more important than fundamental freedoms, you have already failed. In 'the land of the free and the home of the brave', safety is not more important than freedom. I would rather die on my feet than live on my knees. But it seems cowardice is common. What a shame.

        There's no good reason why anybody should be shooting up with heroine or smoking crack.

        You don't need a good reason to be allowed to do something. You don't get to decide that for others.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 19 2015, @02:09PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 19 2015, @02:09PM (#224980)

        Wrong question. Show us in the Constitution where it says we don't have the right to consume what we wish.

      • (Score: 2) by sjames on Wednesday August 19 2015, @07:11PM

        by sjames (2882) on Wednesday August 19 2015, @07:11PM (#225132) Journal

        You should know that the Constitution is NOT a comprehensive list of our rights. It is meant to be a comprehensive list of what the government may do with a series of amendments outlining specific things it most certainly may not do.

        So the correct question is show me where in the Constitution the government is permitted to control drug use.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 20 2015, @05:29AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 20 2015, @05:29AM (#225288)

          The constitution is where they specify what the government is allowed to do and what it's not allowed to do. I do not see anywhere in the constitution a right to use drugs. And the 10th amendment specifies that any rights not otherwise mentioned go to the states.

          So at best you can claim that the federal government doesn't have the right to make these decisions, it's the states that have the right to do it. But, you can't credibly claim that it's a right that's being infringed upon any more than any number of other "rights" that are crimes.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 20 2015, @06:35AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 20 2015, @06:35AM (#225296)

            But, you can't credibly claim that it's a right that's being infringed upon any more than any number of other "rights" that are crimes.

            Incorrect. I seriously doubt you would argue that people who live under more oppressive governments aren't having their rights infringed upon simply because their laws don't recognize their rights. Laws are not immune to criticism. You can believe you should have certain rights even if society currently doesn't recognize those rights.

            Your bodily rights are being infringed upon by drug laws whether governments admit it or not.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 20 2015, @06:38AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 20 2015, @06:38AM (#225297)

            And the 10th amendment specifies that any rights not otherwise mentioned go to the states.

            And to the people. You forgot a crucial part.

  • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Tuesday August 18 2015, @10:48PM

    by c0lo (156) on Tuesday August 18 2015, @10:48PM (#224640) Journal
    Switch them to legal cannabis.
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    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by t-3 on Wednesday August 19 2015, @06:40AM

      by t-3 (4907) on Wednesday August 19 2015, @06:40AM (#224859) Journal

      Not everyone likes weed, and there are very many responsible users of "hard" drugs. The problem is that teenagers and young adults are getting hooked on drugs and they don't have the experience to control themselves and their impulses. Legalization of all drugs and a rational distribution system with better treatment for addiction would eliminate many of the problems associated with drugs.