In case you haven’t heard, there’s an opioid crisis in America.
With majorities of Americans now clearly supportive of marijuana legalization, opioids, a class of drugs used for thousands of years to treat pain and other ailments, have become the latest target of drug warriors and do-gooders alike.
“Our nation is in the throes of a heroin and opioid epidemic,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Wednesday. “Overdose deaths more than tripled between 2010 and 2014. According to the CDC, about 140 Americans on average now die from a drug overdose each day. That means every three weeks, we are losing as many American lives to drug overdoses as we lost in the 9/11 attacks.”
Indeed, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 33,000 Americans lost their lives in 2015 due to opioid-related overdoses, including 12,989 deaths associated specifically with heroin.
Candidate Donald Trump suggested, of course, a border wall would help solve the problem, while President Trump has complained America is a “drug-infested” country where “drugs are becoming cheaper than candy bars.”
On the other side of the aisle, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia has gone so far as to call for a new war on drugs to combat apparent problem of opioid use, abuse and overdoses.
With so many Americans dying, it’s important to clarify a few things about opioids, the folly of knee-jerk government reaction and the need for harm reduction.