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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 Friday August 21 2015, @10:31PM

    by vux984 (5045) on Friday August 21 2015, @10:31PM (#226069)

    A patriot/someone who values freedom highly, if you consider that a nutbag.

    A rational person balances all sorts of competing moral and practical imperatives. You only consider "freedom" to the exclusion of all else. You are an extremist.

    You called the minimal travel restrictions and medical screening on passengers arriving from west africa an intolerable infringment of freedom. Presumably it wouldn't matter how serious the threat was.. ebola... bubonic plague... whatever rolled humanity over in The Stand. I can only presume you side with the anti-vaxxers too.

    Yeah, that sailed right through "patriot" and deep into "nutbag" territory.

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  • (Score: 2) by Anal Pumpernickel on Friday August 21 2015, @10:53PM

    by Anal Pumpernickel (776) on Friday August 21 2015, @10:53PM (#226082)

    A rational person

    A rational person also can take their own values into account, which I am doing. The fact that I value freedom more than hardcore authoritarians such as yourself doesn't mean I'm not being rational. You don't get to decide that rational means having a certain set of values.

    You are an extremist.

    I see you as an extremist. What qualifies as "extreme" is subjective.

    You called the minimal travel restrictions and medical screening on passengers arriving from west africa an intolerable infringment of freedom.

    The federal government has no constitutional authority to do such a thing, and I value a government that respects the constitution more than I value physical safety.

    I can only presume you side with the anti-vaxxers too.

    Incorrect. Getting vaccinations is a good thing. I just wouldn't force it on others.

    Yeah, that sailed right through "patriot" and deep into "nutbag" territory.

    Defending the constitution and the principles to which this country is supposed to aspire is patriotic, no matter how "extreme" you think I am.

    • (Score: 2) by vux984 on Friday August 21 2015, @11:08PM

      by vux984 (5045) on Friday August 21 2015, @11:08PM (#226087)

      The federal government has no constitutional authority to do such a thing, and I value a government that respects the constitution more than I value physical safety.

      Yes. You've stated that you'd rather let a plague kill us all rather than see any sort of medical screening or travel restriction imposed on you. I got it.

      Incorrect. Getting vaccinations is a good thing. I just wouldn't force it on others.

      Not forcing it on others AND allowing them to live among us IS the problem.

      • (Score: 2) by Anal Pumpernickel on Friday August 21 2015, @11:56PM

        by Anal Pumpernickel (776) on Friday August 21 2015, @11:56PM (#226100)

        Not forcing it on others AND allowing them to live among us IS the problem.

        So you say. But that's still not being anti-vaccination, because such people tend to say that getting vaccinations provides no substantial benefits, does substantial harm (causes autism, etc.), and/or doesn't benefit others. I don't say any of that.