A heroin epidemic has been spreading across the United States, expanding enormously for the last several years. With it, the number of people dying has also increased dramatically. While politicians offer failed solutions like “securing the borders,” the real solution is to legalize drugs.
The number of drug overdoses in the US is approaching 50,000 per year. Of that number nearly 20,000 are attributed to legal painkillers, such as Oxycontin. More than 10,000 die of heroin overdoses. I believe these figures vastly underestimate the number of deaths that are related to prescription drug use.
The “face” of the heroin epidemic has changed since the 1960s when it was largely contained to urban “junkies” and Vietnam veterans. In recent years the epidemic spread to suburbia as heroin became a low-cost substitute for other drugs. In more recent times, the epidemic has spread to rural areas such as fishing villages in Maine and coal mining towns in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
The problem of the epidemic rests with two causes. The first is the War on Drugs which creates profit incentives in the black market for the distribution of the most dangerous drugs. The second is the pharmaceutical-medical-FDA complex, or Big Pharma, which profits from treating pain with dangerous pharmaceutical drugs.
The Problem with Illegal Opiates
The War on Drugs makes the business of black market drugs more risky and expensive. Hundreds of thousands are arrested every year for illegal drug violations. If drug smugglers can make their shipments of, for example, 1,000 doses or units smaller, they are better able to avoid detection, capture, and punishment. The best and most obvious way to achieve this is to smuggle…