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Lawmakers struggle to get to grips with America’s opioid epidemic

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LexHumana

The biggest route for illegal contraband into the U.S. is, somewhat surprisingly, the U.S. mail. The U.S. Postal Service processes an enormous amount of inbound international mail, and to be blunt their enforcement efforts are pathetic. They don't catch much themselves. Moreover, they have a dysfunctional attitude towards Customs and Border Protection, who ordinarily would screen all importations. Even though federal law authorizes CBP to inspect ALL inbound and outbound international mail, the U.S. Postal Service does not have any electronic records, manifest, or tracking information that consignment carriers (FedEx, UPS, DHL, etc.) are required to provide. Without such data, it is next to impossible to rationally target and sift through the millions of letters/parcels that flow through the system each day. As a consequence, there is a lot that passes through the USPS with little or no scrutiny.

guest-aaawwwmj

There is no "opioid epidemic."
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In part because most dead junkies died from fentanyl, which was cut into drugs.
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The number of junkies is small compared to illegal immigrants.
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And the media won't say we have an "illegal immigration crisis."
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A nice try by the media doing their "gatekeeper" and "look at this, not that" job.
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People are not going to vote for or against a politician based on their views/votes on spending taxpayer money to give junkies 10+ times ar rehab.
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Recovering Hope: Mentor woman says judge's prison sentence pivotal in heroin recovery
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She started drinking at 13, then experimented with recreational drugs. At first it was marijuana then acid, ecstasy, mushrooms, cocaine, meth and eventually heroin.
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Heroin -- which she bought on Martin Luther King Drive or other East Side streets --cost her upward of $300 a day.
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When the drugs proved to be too much, Lewis sent Hlad to rehab.
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Hlad went to rehab 31 times.
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She overdosed seven times because she just wasn't ready to change.
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http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2017/08/recovering_hope_mentor_...
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NSFTL
Regards

Peace Love and Understanding

The statistical outcomes by state responses to the opioid crisis are misleading.
The states that have the bleakest future economic outcomes (West Virginia, for example) are likely to have the worst overdose rates. Those with greater opportunities are likely to have better overdose rates. It's not about policies, or at least not addiction treatment policies....Or at least, to be able to determine if it is about that, you would need to find some way to account for economic disruption and control for it.

erwinhaaslibertarian

Two million narcotics addicts plus a similar number of folks abusing cocaine, meth and the like is about 1.3% of the US population, exactly the same percent as was estimated to be the prevalence in 1914 when the Harrison Act started this whole sorry calamity.
Narcotics abuse leads to -not much.
Abe Lincoln was our President during our War Between the States. He use raw opium to get to sleep each night. This caused constipation. The White House sent out an order weekly for huge dosages of laxatives. The gossip in Washington was about these drugs. It's always been a small town.
Any ten year old with a few quarters in his pocket could walk into any corner drug store here in Michigan and buy heroin and cocaine, no questions asked. Few if any bothered to spend their money on something that did what alcohol did more cheaply.
I spent 12 months with Army Aviation outfits in the Central Highlands in 1970-71. I could tell who was addicted to heroin; about 30% of the enlisted. Helicopters were repaired, meals got cooked, reports were fabricated to make our outfit look good, gonorrhea acquired and treated. Things were fine, but the underlying problem was that, had we been attacked, we would have had 30% of our soldiers inside the wires with M16s, (but then they didn't work either.) The military situation is unique and I think that the high rates of addiction were situational. (BTW, the soldiers who were addicted stopped voluntarily before they left that beautiful but troubled SE Asian country. I witnessed a few guys who looked about as uncomfortable as I did when I stopped smoking.)
Folks on the drug seem passive but alert and engaged, they itch and lost weight.
A minority (1.3%?) of normal adults have personality problems that leads to drug and alcohol abuse. The mortality and morbidity that is cited in the article comes only because the illegal stuff to which addicts have to resort varies so greatly in potency. That problem would disappear if users could buy from profitable and proud producers in a marketplace; none would sully his reputation by peddling junk.
The war on drugs, like prohibition, has failed and nothing will ever make it work. Any chemist using his mom's kitchen utensils and simple feed stocks can make any psychotropic drug and dozens of variants as mentioned in the article. Given the number of college educated and unemployed chemistry majors in the USA, I predict that the Afghans and Mexicans will no longer need to do stoop labor growing poppy or Marijuana and will be able to take up poetry as is their birthright.
If drugs were decriminalized, the price would drop to commodity levels and young guys from marginal neighborhoods and with poor prospects would not be attracted to the business. The drug trade works pretty much like Amway, the distributor is pretty much the biggest customer who needs to try to recruit new dupes, maybe at the nearest schoolyard.
The only folks who still push the war on drugs are the Baptist ministers, the big drug dealers, folks who make beer and wine and those who make good livings by enforcing these laws,to wit, the criminal justice system. The latter is the big one in the USA. Unfortunately, these forces are formidable and I don't anticipate any return to reason soon.

Great post, Erwin.
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You wrote - If drugs were decriminalized, the price would drop to commodity levels and young guys from marginal neighborhoods and with poor prospects would not be attracted to the business.
Some time ago, TE had an article about surging murder rates in Mexico due to the "diversification" of the narcos into more regular crimes like kidnapping, robbery etc.
It seems to be the effect of marijuana legalization in USA, which left a lot of low level soldiers previously involved in growing and distributing marijuana, without jobs. The problem is that now they "will be able to take up poetry as is their birthright" but probably won't.

By the way, I made sauerkraut using your method in temps way over 80F. Turned out great. I shared with bunch of people and they loved it. I give you credit all the time.

Thanx for the reading; getting rid of the War on Drugs would discourage newbies from getting into the business. The damaged veterans would drift into other pathologies.
And about the sauerkraut; I posted that video 10 years ago and can't find it anymore. I've made (involuntarily in Georgia last winter-the weather got hot unexpectedly) sauerkraut at above 70 degrees and it worked out OK. We finished it off in 2 months so I'm not sure how well it would have held up after that.
The ancients, aunts uncles, great grand parents, Joy of Cooking) taught us that sauerkraut had to be made at temps below 70 F. But go back to when they had cheap and preservable cabbage; in the mid fall when the temps in northern Europe were-below 70.

Custom became the dogma.

"getting rid of the War on Drugs would discourage newbies from getting into the business"
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This is a questionable premise. First, even if some are dissuaded from taking up the illicit profession because the profit margins are considered to be too low to be profitable, that does not mean they will be routed into the licit economy -- as was pointed out above, prior to the war on drugs, there was illicit gambling, prostitution, etc, that were both profitable and unregulated which allowed marginal members of society easy avenues for money. Second, getting rid of the war on drugs does not mean that drugs will not be illegally trafficked. For example, alcohol and cigarettes are both completely legal drugs for sale and purchase, but are heavily taxed -- as a consequence, there is still the opportunity for illicit price arbitrage (i.e. the black market). We see this occurring still in the U.S. with moonshining (still in existence), and the selling of smuggled, untaxed cigarettes (i.e. loosies).

R77wYfR8Qw in reply to LexHumana

Lex wrote - For example, alcohol and cigarettes are both completely legal drugs for sale and purchase, but are heavily taxed -- as a consequence, there is still the opportunity for illicit price arbitrage (i.e. the black market).
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You seem like reasonable guy, so please, do not tell us "fairy tales".
One can buy a 5 liter box of wine for about 10 dollars. That will provide you with a good buzz for a few days. I am not sure how much the moonshine would have to sell for, in order to be competitive. 5 liter of wine is equivalent to about 2.5 pints of hard liquor. How do you make money competing at such low level of pricing?
Have you ever seen any moonshine "pushers" in the schoolyard? Do I have to tell you about drugs? My daughters tell me that about 30% of kids in their "selective" early college high school get stoned during lunch hour. Heavy users became the dealers as they got kicked out due to poor performance and still hang around the school. They try hard to get new recruits to support their consumption. Erwin is 100% right - "getting rid of the War on Drugs would discourage newbies from getting into the business"
After all they do not try to peddle 10 dollar box of wine for 5 dollars in the school yard. The price is too low.
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Cigarettes maybe somewhat different but again it is an unintended consequence of high taxes. Lower taxes and the problem will disappear. And even with illegal cigs - how many shootouts, murders they lead to?

LexHumana in reply to R77wYfR8Qw

Perhaps you should not talk about fairy tales until you have confirmed your own facts.
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The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (www.atf.gov) is responsible for, among other things, combatting the traffic of illicit liquor or contraband tobacco in interstate commerce. The majority of this involves "diversion" (i.e. the smuggling or redirecting of untaxed products). Your box of "Two-Buck Chuck" might cost $10 legitimately, but might cost only $7 on the illicit market -- since the beverage was stolen, the criminal gets $7 of pure profit, and the consumer gets discounted cheap vino. Moreover, the trafficking of illicit liquor is usually not on cheap box wine, but on premium liquor that has a significant price mark-up. Moonshining still occurs largely in the counterfeit liquor industry -- once diluted and mixed with chemical flavorings and colorants, a criminal enterprise can slap a fake label on the bottle and sell it as the real thing. The industry is also not simply for domestic streetcorner sales; the global trafficking of counterfeit beverage alcohol is significant and lucrative. Likewise, the sale of untaxed cigarettes (sometimes diverted from low tax states, sometimes simply stolen) is also extremely lucrative for the enterprises involved (https://www.atf.gov/resource-center/fact-sheet/fact-sheet-tobacco-enforc...). Popular media (where most people get their "facts") is biased towards drug stories like "Breaking Bad", but criminal enterprises are often a lot more prosaic -- people get killed over a lot of criminal activities that are not very "sexy" or appealing for a Netflix series, and you don't ever see them in headlines or on your local nightly news.
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I would encourage you to get out from your turtle-shell and actually see how the real world works. You might discover some fascinating things you never knew before. If you are remotely curious, you might discover that people also traffic in things like counterfeit olive oil, counterfeit balsamic vinegar, and counterfeit Cuban cigars, among other things.

R77wYfR8Qw in reply to LexHumana

Maybe you should get out of your smarty pants. Watch out for the big skid mark. And remember when putting them back on, not through the head, yellow to the front, brown to the back.
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And more seriously. What a crappy argument you came up with. Now it is stolen alcohol and the expensive variety as well. How is it different from stolen electronics (I bet a lot more popular). How does that affect addiction and deaths from overdose?
Your logic is as sour as the counterfeit balsamic vinegar. BTW, has anybody overdosed on it?

LexHumana in reply to R77wYfR8Qw

You have clearly run out of actual facts and logical argument when you blurt out a cascade of scatological venom and ad hominem attacks.
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You stated that ending the war on drugs would result in young people not being attracted to criminal behavior. I question that premise. Your personal ideology about decriminalization may be crystal clear to you, but not to objective assessment. People get involved in criminal enterprises the same way they get involved in legitimate enterprises -- they need to make a living, and that particular "profession" has a never-ending stream of vacancies available, doesn't have any educational requirements or other technical barriers to entry, and it is a "profession" to which they have early exposure. What is being trafficked is variable. Sometimes it will be drugs, sometimes it will be women, sometimes it will be cars, or anything else that the market will demand. Taking away drugs as a criminal market may reduce the incidence of drug related crime, but that is just a tautology -- taking away speed limits would eliminate speeding tickets too. None of this means that crime itself will be reduced overall, or that unhealthy drug related behavior will be reduced overall -- criminals will find something else to sell (even drugs in an otherwise legal market), and addicts will still overdose on (completely legal) drugs, just like the mere fact that alcohol is sold legally does not eliminate alcoholism.
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If you can get yourself under control and speak rationally, please feel free to raise any actual facts or logical arguments that you believe counter these points.

Peace Love and Understanding

Why would the United States provide help to its drug addicts when it's economic and social structure was pretty much intentionally designed to mold them into addicts in the first place?
You could just, y'know, stop making the opioids if you really wanted to....The fact is, big Pharma doesn't care who buys the pills or for what. It's just business.