Government can’t seem to reduce the flow of prescription drugs for abuse; and in those areas where they have had some success, all they’ve accomplished by reducing the supply is increasing local rates of heroin addiction. We need to stop thinking about this as a criminal justice issue, and start dealing with the problem as a health challenge. We need to stop addicting ever increasing generations with easy access to prescribed medications, and we need to give the already addicted the drugs they need, while also trying to effect some therapeutic change for the better.
The National Drug Intelligence Center, in its 2007 drug threat assessment on the abuse of prescription drugs, reported a number of findings…and none of them can be considered positive.
- Firstly, the organization asses that the availability and supply of illegitimate (not taken or acquired in a medically prescribed manner) prescription pharmaceuticals is high and increasing.
- Secondly, the organization asserts that demand and use has remained stable over the last year despite law enforcement efforts at reducing supply.
- Thirdly, the organization reports that in some States, where strict pharmaceutical chain of custody regulations have diminished the availability of diverted pharmaceuticals for illegitimate usage, there has been a significant increase in heroin usage.
So there are lots of drugs around, the numbers of people using them has not decreased despite the best efforts of law enforcement, and in those areas where stringent regulations have limited local supply, addicts have been forced into even more damaging and dangerous practices such as heroin usage…hardly good news all around.
The challenges of regulating a product that does have a legitimate purpose, but that can so easily be abused, and that can be easily purchased through any of thousands of out of country illegal on line pharmacies is enormous; and increasing availability throughout most of the country indicates that law enforcement has so far been unable to really effect change. But when we consider that in those few areas where regulations have limited access, all that has occurred is a migration to even more dangerous and socially destructive usage of heroin or other illicit drugs, maybe we should question the philosophical motivation behind attempting to reduce the flow.
Enforcement and prohibition of psychotropic substance has an abysmal track record throughout recorded history, and the desperate realities of opiate addiction means that people will do whatever it takes to avoid the pains of opiate withdrawal. You cannot simply solve the problem by decreasing the supply, and when you consider the increased infectious disease rates, overdose risks, and criminal issues associated with the use of illicit drugs such as heroin, nor should we be striving to push people into even greater desperation.
My opinions are a bit contradictory in nature, and I feel that we need to both loosen availability as we tighten access???
- We firstly need to stop creating ever increasing generations of addicts, and prescribing practices within the health care community need to change to reflect the dangers these drugs present to society. Extremely potent medicines, these drugs do serve a needed therapeutic function for some, but we as a nation consume far too many, and doctor’s need to prescribe these dangerous drugs with greater judiciousness. We should also continue with legislations that have proven effective at limiting the supply of diverted pharmaceuticals into the community.
- Secondly, we need to give those people that have developed addictions the drugs that they need. You can’t stop an opiate addict from taking drugs, and they will do whatever it takes to get a substance that both makes them feel good, and keeps away a very uncomfortable and scary period of detox sickness. Instead of making these people acquire the drugs illegitimately, or even worse, forcing them onto the even greater dangers of illicit drugs such as heroin; we should open clinics akin to methadone clinics, where addicts can get the drugs they need, safely, and without undue hassle.
Addicts participating in these subsidized programs would only be given enough for a day’s usage and they would be required to pay for them at standard market prices. Governmental subsidies would fund corresponding and mandatory therapeutic involvement that would be a prerequisite to access into the program.
We can’t stop it, and we can’t even seem to control the flow of drugs, so instead of increasingly criminalizing the issue, why don’t we control the administration of drugs to those that need them, and while we’re at it try to effect change through offered therapies, medical care and treatment.
Drug abuse is a disease and health care issue, and any attempts at criminal justice control always prove ineffective.