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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 vux984 on Wednesday August 19 2015, @06:26AM

    by vux984 (5045) on Wednesday August 19 2015, @06:26AM (#224848)

    I'm not sure if we're on the same side of this debate.

    I do agree that criminalization and a 'war on drugs' is not a solution.

    I don't agree you should have the absolute right to just stick crap in your body without government intervention... whether you're eating rat poison or sticking street heroine in your veins or trying to open your skull with a powerdrill then society has a moral duty to intervene, in my opinion.

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  • (Score: 2) by takyon on Wednesday August 19 2015, @02:09PM

    by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Wednesday August 19 2015, @02:09PM (#224982) Journal

    Is it currently a crime to ingest rat poison or arsenic?

    If not, why should it be a crime to ingest heroin or cocaine, which can be orders of magnitude safer?

    Society can intervene. You catch a gibbering drug user on the street, you throw them in treatment rather than a cell. If you exercise discretion, you don't even have to cite them for causing a disturbance. Even a forced psych evaluation or 24-72 hour detention would be preferable.

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    • (Score: 2) by vux984 on Wednesday August 19 2015, @05:15PM

      by vux984 (5045) on Wednesday August 19 2015, @05:15PM (#225090)

      Is it currently a crime to ingest rat poison or arsenic?

      Its "attempted suicide" if you do it on purpose; and accidental poisoning if you don't. In general health services are empowered to intervene in either case. If it was intentional you can be put under suicide watch, and be referred for a mental evaluation that can lead to you being institutionalized.

      Even a forced psych evaluation or 24-72 hour detention would be preferable.

      Seems that we are on the same page more or less. I'm not pushing hard for it to be "criminal". I'm arguing more about it "being a fundamental right". And if we've arrived at a point where someone doing heroine can be picked up and detained and evaluated or thrown in treatment then "legal or not" were still "infringing" on his right to screw himself up with drugs.

      Taken further if a drug is particularly harmful, and leads to more problems than not, then why should society have to perpetually foot the bill for treating idiots who insist on taking it because: rights. That doesn't necessarily mean we criminalize it and launch an ineffective war on it, but maybe we bill him for the emergency services.

      Or maybe its a privilege rather than a fundamental right... and anyone can get a license but if you subsequently prove you can't be responsible you lose it, and it becomes illegal for you be on heroine...I'm just spit balling...

      • (Score: 2) by takyon on Thursday August 20 2015, @12:50AM

        by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Thursday August 20 2015, @12:50AM (#225228) Journal

        I get why libertarians use phrases like "fundamental right to put substances into my body" when debating the drug war. In actuality the most likely path to getting something like that in a semi-legal form would be to codify as an extension to The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Not likely yet.

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      • (Score: 1) by khallow on Thursday August 20 2015, @04:17PM

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Thursday August 20 2015, @04:17PM (#225468) Journal

        Its "attempted suicide" if you do it on purpose; and accidental poisoning if you don't.

        And your point is? We have names for all kinds of things.

        Really, what I don't get here is why you care. Just because there might be a right to pump whatever I want into my body doesn't give me a right to drive right afterwards. We already have laws against reckless behavior and endangering other peoples' lives. If the matter is one of testing, then we probably could spend a few tens of millions and get a viable, quick field-based testing system (well, a better system that current ones out there) for these drugs like we do for alcohol.

        • (Score: 2) by vux984 on Thursday August 20 2015, @09:46PM

          by vux984 (5045) on Thursday August 20 2015, @09:46PM (#225593)

          Really, what I don't get here is why you care.

          Because I think society should help a person who is sick.

          Just because there might be a right to pump whatever I want into my body doesn't give me a right to drive right afterwards.

          This is about potential for addiction to prevent you from being able to make the decision to stop pumping shit into your body once you start. This is about addiction leading you to make decisions that harm your family and loved ones (selling all their shit for more H included.) decisions one would not make if one had not literally altered ones own brain to be able to make decisions about the drugs properly.

          If you think a person should be free to pump shit into his veins fine, I just happen to think he should be free to stop too. And since the shit he's pumped into his veins, may override his ability to stop on his own, I think its fair that society step in and dry him out.

          • (Score: 1) by khallow on Friday August 21 2015, @12:02AM

            by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday August 21 2015, @12:02AM (#225622) Journal

            If you think a person should be free to pump shit into his veins fine, I just happen to think he should be free to stop too. And since the shit he's pumped into his veins, may override his ability to stop on his own, I think its fair that society step in and dry him out.

            And what happens when he reverses that process again? I think a far better position here is to simply let people make their own decisions, good and bad rather than create yet another flimsy pretext for other people to meddle in your life.

            This is about addiction leading you to make decisions that harm your family and loved ones (selling all their shit for more H included.) decisions one would not make if one had not literally altered ones own brain to be able to make decisions about the drugs properly.

            No one does that to obtain alcohol and tobacco now. One of the consequences of drug legalization is that no one has to commit a lot of crimes in order to support a habit made costly by the illegality of the drug.

            • (Score: 2) by vux984 on Friday August 21 2015, @01:56AM

              by vux984 (5045) on Friday August 21 2015, @01:56AM (#225658)

              I think a far better position here is to simply let people make their own decisions, good and bad rather than create yet another flimsy pretext for other people to meddle in your life.

              You call it a "decision". But it has an awful lot in common with a disease or medical condition.

              One of the consequences of drug legalization is that no one has to commit a lot of crimes in order to support a habit made costly by the illegality of the drug.

              No.

              http://heroin.net/about/how-much-does-heroin-cost/ [heroin.net]

              The average street cost of a dose of heroine, if that's to be believed (afraid I have no personal frame of reference to even do a sanity check on the number), is around $25. That's really not that bad. If I were inclined to try heroine... that's not a deterrent in the least. A couple drinks in a bar costs me the same. Even if they legalized it, I doubt it would be that much cheaper.

              I think you also neglect to appreciate the severity of the addiction; and the degree to which it destroys your ability to be productive. A smoker doing 2 cartons of smokes a day can still hold down a job. So he can afford 2 cartons a day. A hardcore heroine addict ... even if he earned enough to pay for his habit wouldn't be able to continue working.