America, Land of the Brown

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

I warned about a resurgence of heroin use, following this year’s bumper opium crop in Afghanistan, in Smacktastic Britain, and unfortunately this may be already starting to come true, with reports of presentations of new heroin users at services (too young to remember the stigma of the last wave) and increased purity levels of the drug. But, given that there has been an international drought for the last three years, I guess this could just be business getting back to normal. And it will be another few months, possibly into early next year, before that crop reaches our shores and heroin use becomes a tempting prospect again – and people like the drug so much they start dying all over the place.

There has, however, been somewhat more of a significant increase in America. Fox News report that heroin use is “on the rise: cheap, available and out of control”, and the Wall Street Journal state that “heroin use in the U.S. is soaring, especially in rural areas”.

Fox’s Dr Manny Alvarez makes the claim that this increase is due to the last decade of prescription drug abuse, as painkillers such as Vicodin and oxycodone have been dished out like sweets and created large numbers of opiate addicts. The report also spells heroin with an ‘e’ on the end, claims that it causes miscarriage, and demands that America starts another War On Drugs – so I’m guessing we can take its contents with a pinch of salt – but it remains however an interesting suggestion that America’s increase is heroin use may be self-created. This claim is supported by other reports, which claim that OxyContin (the market name for oxycodone) has been refomulated to make it less abusable (by making it harder to crush and pastey, so that snorting or injecting is more difficult), and that, compared to the price of buying prescription meds, heroin is by far the cheaper option for those who find themselves dependent.

The Wall Street Journal, who also support the idea of a vast shift from prescribed opiates to painkillers, give some insightful and scary facts on the country’s growing heroin problem – seizures from the Mexico border have quadrupled between 2008 and 2012, and overdoses are going through the roof. Some of the rural communities are heroin-naive, most of them have no service provision, and heroin purity is at its highest in years, making overdose an inevitable consequence. Even more headline-grabbing – these medicated kids are white and middle-class.

So maybe we haven’t got as much to worry about in the UK as we first thought. The US market is prepped, desperate, and think that heroin is a bargain. If I was a drugs baron, I know where I’d be taking my bumper crop. Something tells me that the horrendous US drug overdose death rate of someone every nineteen minutes might be about to get a lot, lot worse…

2 comments on “America, Land of the Brown

  1. Jamie says:

    Hi another interesting post…unfortunately I fear we maybe closer to America than we would hope due to the new accessibility of substances. The new generation of user are so much more equipped to source good quality products from the Internet.(recent reports of UK u18s sourcing a number of subs from stimulants, prescribed drugs such as the mentioned oxycodone through to the opiate morphine via simple means rather than Silk Road ) Potentially cleaner heroin , relativley straight from source rather than the sink estate stuff that is bashed by six consequtive ten bob dealers on the same street before being injected into the groin of some hopeless junky may mean not as much contaminate problems but maybe will,due to strength and purity require a greater response to OD from emergency services at a time when austerity significantly reduces emergency response and harm red messages .As much as I believe the answer to all this is the inclusion of substance use and inturn the user to mainstream acceptance and decriminalisation ….the truth of the matter is drug policy in this country isn’t in isolation , whilst mrs May may have to follow the lead of America on khat to stop the UK being European disribution hub ,the contradiction is evident -we have to wait for America to capitalise on an opportunity (as they are doing with cannabis) and change their moral stance, it seems, before we dare have any balls- yet with god and America on our side we will kill thousands in the Middle East … Anyway while the government is waiting to be told what to do by America can we at least have a rerun of grange hill to save the lives of just a few worthless British kids – cheap,misplaced ostracising harm reduction messages from the 80’s (which was well placed in the 80’s hats off to phil Redmond) is all we maybe will be left with to save a generation of potential….

    • Thanks so much for this response – so kids are buying morphine via the Internet?! Scary stuff. Makes you wonder why the American kids don’t just source their OxyContin elsewhere! I do wonder how America will cope with this though – and it makes me appreciate the services that we have over here, which are significantly better and more accessible even with austerity measures in place. Hey Kids of America – JUST SAY NO!

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