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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: 2) by GungnirSniper on Tuesday August 18 2015, @11:58PM

    by GungnirSniper (1671) on Tuesday August 18 2015, @11:58PM (#224683) Journal

    There's a great CIA-authored term for the unforeseen consequences of international intervention, or war, which is blowback.

    The US Civil War removed the right of states to peacefully withdraw from the Union, leading to the inability of states to limit the overstepping of the Federal Government. It would otherwise be a useful pressure-release valve for certain states and issues, moderating the Federal Government by holding independence plebiscites in aggravated states.
    The Spanish-American War led to the strongmen of Marcos in the Philippines, and Batista in Cuba, and the bizarre status of Puerto Rico as a US territory with little representation in Washington.
    The First World War went from being a stalemate with a balance of power on the continent, until the American intervention which led to the French-led gleeful punishment of Germany. The war itself was a factor in the coming Great Depression, but there's no doubt the rise the Nazis in Germany could not have happened without the territorial losses and massive reparation demands. Remember that no enemy soldier set foot in Germany.
    In the Second World War, the Allies' foolish strategy of arming the anti-democratic Soviets directly led to the Cold War. Like with ISIS today, American-made weapons were aimed back at us after the immediate threat from Germany was ended. Had Germany, with her adjacent German population under one government been allowed to keep the lands that were German only 21 years before, millions could have been saved, and the Soviets contained. Britain lost her Empire and still failed in her stated objective, that being the independence of Poland.
    The Korean War was a direct result of the US policy to completely remove the Japanese from mainland Asia, rather than co-opting them to maintain the unity of Korea until American occupation.
    In the 1950s, UK and US intelligence led to the removal of the populist-nationalist Iranian Prime Minister, and the installation of the authoritarian Shah. Had we left them alone, the revolution in 1979 may not have happened.
    Vietnam was the result of the US trying to fight the boogeyman Communism, and doing so half-assed, exposing our weakness and emboldening our enemies.
    Saddam's war with Iran was helped by our weapons, but when he went broke, and gave an ambiguous signal that invading Kuwait, we again found our knowledge and some equipment we paid for turned against us.
    Afghanistan's heroin problem is in part due to our removal of the awful Taliban, but they were never a threat to the homeland beyond Bin Laden's antics.
    The Islamist Winter in Libya, Egypt (and military takeover), and of course ISIS can all be traced back to poor US policy.

    Swatting a fly doesn't end the problem, it just gives more space for the others.

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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Phoenix666 on Wednesday August 19 2015, @12:38AM

    by Phoenix666 (552) on Wednesday August 19 2015, @12:38AM (#224708) Journal

    Thanks, that list was interesting to read.

    One small request as an American: please don't use the word "homeland" to describe America. The term is execrable.

    Washington DC delenda est.
    • (Score: 2) by GungnirSniper on Wednesday August 19 2015, @02:05AM

      by GungnirSniper (1671) on Wednesday August 19 2015, @02:05AM (#224732) Journal

      You're welcome. :D

      Would "Continental United States" be a better term than "homeland"? Or maybe "the territorial integrity of the nation"? There's no pithy term that fits quite as well.

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Phoenix666 on Wednesday August 19 2015, @01:49PM

        by Phoenix666 (552) on Wednesday August 19 2015, @01:49PM (#224969) Journal

        Why not use the term we used for a couple hundred years before: "the country?" We also used to talk about "national security," not "homeland security." We were a "nation," not a "homeland."

        "Homeland" is a proto-totalitarian, Orwellian term Dick Cheney and his minions brought to us. It smacks entirely too much of "Fatherland" (Vaterland) or "Motherland" (Rodina). To me, if we continue to use that cheneyist term then we have irrevocably joined that dubious club comprising Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia.

        Washington DC delenda est.