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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 morgauxo on Wednesday August 19 2015, @03:28PM

    by morgauxo (2082) on Wednesday August 19 2015, @03:28PM (#225043)

    >> >>Its Hard to exercise your 'fundamental rights' when your brain chemistry is fucked up by the drugs, and you want another hit so badly you'd sell your >> >>own child into slavery for a hit.

    >>Uh, no. You can still exercise your fundamental rights even when you're on drugs. Even if you couldn't, you chose that path yourself.
    >>If you sell someone into slavery, you have committed an actual crime and can be arrested.

    True but arresting the parent who does this doesn't fix the problem for the child does it. Did they even find and rescue the child? How fucked up is the child's mind now? Did the child even survive?

    I don't know how many adicts go as far as selling their children into slavery but my understanding is that hurting their families in various ways in order to get more heroine is a common outcome of adiction. I happen to know a family where the father became adicted to the stuff. He drove them into debt to where the mother could not get food or clothing for the children. After she kicked him out he snuck back in, removed appliances and sold them. Finally he came and got her car. She almost was fired from her job due to that and right when she needed it most! On top of this, seeing her dad turn this way has really messed up the daughter's mind. She is prone to all sorts of outbursts now.

    One might argue that his wife made a poor choice in chosing him. His children certainly didn't make any choice. I would say that their fundamental rights have been taken away by him chosing to consume heroine. I also don't like the idea of people's rights to control their own body being taken away but how many other people's lives should one person be allowed to ruin in excercising those rights?

    Even if you say.. well.. when they do that.. THEN they are criminals. It's too late, the damage is done. If you see that people excercising their own 'fundamental rights' frequently cause this kind of damage to others then how long should society sit by before deciding that the 'right' is just too expensive in terms of damage it does to other people's lives, violating their own rights because they are not the ones who made the choice.

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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Anal Pumpernickel on Wednesday August 19 2015, @04:09PM

    by Anal Pumpernickel (776) on Wednesday August 19 2015, @04:09PM (#225059)

    True but arresting the parent who does this doesn't fix the problem for the child does it.

    No, it doesn't. But bad things sometimes happen, even in free societies. Deal with it.

    If you see that people excercising their own 'fundamental rights' frequently cause this kind of damage to others then how long should society sit by before deciding that the 'right' is just too expensive in terms of damage it does to other people's lives, violating their own rights because they are not the ones who made the choice.

    Society should not infringe upon our fundamental right to control our own bodies simply because indirect damage could occur. Again, you, like so many other people, speak of safety. I want to live in a free country, even if that means potentially less safety (not that I believe the drug war increases safety). It's as if some people cannot imagine how safety could be less important than principles, the constitution, and freedom; they cannot imagine how banning something to prevent possible indirect 'damage' is inherently authoritarian because it forbids everyone from having it whether or not they would have abused it, and restricts people before they actually commit crimes.

    Authoritarianism isn't appealing to anyone but cowards.

    • (Score: 2) by morgauxo on Monday August 24 2015, @09:15PM

      by morgauxo (2082) on Monday August 24 2015, @09:15PM (#227242)

      "Again, you, like so many other people, speak of safety. I want to live in a free country,..." blah blah blah

      Actually.. I consider myself to be very much against the surveilance state, and for the right to bear arms. I'm all for legalizing less harmful drugs. I would admit pot and probably LSD into that category. I would not place Crack or Heroine in that category. I don't have any problem with admitting that I don't know enough about other drugs to say what side of the line I would put them on.

      Further.. those drugs that I wouldn't say deserve to be legalized due to being low-harm... That doesn't mean I support keeping them criminialized. The 'war on drugs' is unwinable. The colateral damage is immense, both due to loss of freedom and empowering the criminals that make and distribute the drugs and yes.. also offenses by over-zealous police.

      I don't know what would happen if those drugs were legalized. Maybe they would be more popular leading to the destruction of more lives? Maybe adicts would have better prognosis with a doctor's help and controled doses. Maybe we would all be better off with drug corporations making the drugs rather than drug cartels.

      I'm only trying to point out that here in the real world these things are complicated with shades of grey, not black and white drugs are evil, ban them vs get out from between me and my crack pipe so that I can be free.

  • (Score: 2) by sjames on Wednesday August 19 2015, @05:43PM

    by sjames (2882) on Wednesday August 19 2015, @05:43PM (#225099) Journal

    To be fair, we need to compare against our current approach of arresting mom and dumping the kids into the foster system where (statistically) they will be abused, bounced around completely out of their control and grow up to become criminals (at a rate higher than kids that don't go into the system).

  • (Score: 2) by sjames on Wednesday August 19 2015, @06:27PM

    by sjames (2882) on Wednesday August 19 2015, @06:27PM (#225113) Journal

    At one time, before he spent them into debt, she could have turned to the clergy for help. That would go better if it could include enrolling him in a free rehab provided as part of healthcare, but we don't have that. With church membership on the decline, perhaps a social worker?

    But certainly by the time he stole the appliances he should have been given a choice between rehab in jail or rehab as a condition of probation. That too should have been free rehab provided as part of healthcare (and it would be cheaper than keeping him in jail anyway). At that point it could be justified since the addiction was clearly a contributor to his criminal behavior. But again, our society is more interested in meting out punishment than in actually solving the problem. The appliances should have been retrieved and returned (once again, no interest in solving the problem).