Safety of the people and security of the nation should be priority number one for any leader who wishes to have a successful tenure in office, perhaps even multiple terms — and the President of the United States is no exception to this model.

So, why, then, has a killer of tens of thousands each year still on the loose inside those putatively impermeable borders? How could this executioner, unmasked and identified, roam main streets of small towns as comfortably as a seedy alley in some decrepit corner of an urban metroplex — unhindered by the threat of detention or arrest?

How could this nefarious reaper sever the lives of ninety-one Americans each and every day, yet — rather than earn a notorious status as Enemy of the Public Number One — this killer is encouraged to thrive, intentionally or not, by those supposedly the most trusted to guard us from bodily harm?

Since the attacks of 9/11, the United States has waged the pernicious War on Terror — combating a concept most of its citizenry will never encounter firsthand — nearly everywhere on the planet, even toppling ostensively brutal but sovereign regimes in its name.

Yet, Terror — its tactics used most often by disciples fighting in the name of religion — has not been as efficacious in destroying American lives as the opioid medications prescribed, without irony, to kill their pain.

Since 1995, terrorists of varied stripe have killed 3,181 people in the U.S. — nearly 3,000 of them in the September 11 attacks, which sparked the nation’s unending war, alone.


That’s a startling figure, indeed — particularly in a country known for Orwellian surveillance and tracking of visitors and citizens, alike — but terror’s death toll cannot be examined separately from known killers more easily stopped.

In 2014, the span of a single year, an astounding 29,467 Americans died by overdose of opioid-related drugs, including prescriptions — and the following year saw more than 15,000 lose their lives to overdose on opioid medications legally prescribed by medical personnel.

Unintentional drug overdose is now the primary cause of accidental death’ in the U.S. — and prescription opioid industry bears a significant bulk of culpability in the problem.

Many opiate addicts never sought the escape of a substance recreationally — but were given prescriptions for medications like Vicodin (hydrocodone) or even OxyContin (oxycodone) following surgery, a serious injury, or as treatment for the chronic pain of another illness.

What might seem innocuous when written by a physician can quickly turn malevolent — a single month of prescribed medication might not be sufficient to fight the pain of a complex fracture or chronic ailment. If the prescriber then refuses an extension of that opioid — all-too frequently, under the benign premise of preventing dependence — that patient might seek other means to procure the same relief.

Many turn to heroin — highly illegal, but readily available from the black market — and without the rigorous federal restrictions guarding its legal opioid brethren. In fact, a large percentage of heroin addicts began using after prescriptions for strong opioids like OxyContin ran their course, leaving the patients suffering without recourse.

Every day, around 1,000 people are treated in hospital emergency rooms for misuse of prescription opioids — and in 2014, alone, roughly 2,000,000 abused or were dependent on those opioid medications. One-quarter, given such a prescription on a long but terminal basis, struggles with dependency.

Fifteen-thousand people perished by overdosing on prescription opioid painkillers in 2015 — and the figures compiled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention grow exponentially by the year. Even as the War on Terror rages on around the globe.

Indeed, veteran American troops have stumbled on that war’s undiscussed elephant in the room while fighting the supposed terrorists we’re made to believe threaten our security, overseas in Afghanistan — the origin, by most reports, of the majority of the world’s opium supply.

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Standing guard over fields of opium poppies isn’t expressly stated in U.S. military recruitment brochures, yet troops returning stateside report that media images showing them doing so are entirely accurate.

Immediately prior to the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan some sixteen years ago — in an irony of tragic shame to warhawk politicians and the pharmaceutical industry — the Taliban had all-but eradicated the opium poppy from the fertile lands under its control, evidenced by a record-smashing low, 185-ton, harvest.

Reversing that became paramount priority — even before dust kicked up by the boots of incoming soldiers had time to settle.

“Within six months of the U.S. invasion,” wrote Matthieu Aikins for the December 4, 2014, Rolling Stone, “the warlords we backed were running the opium trade, and the spring of 2002 saw a bumper harvest of 3,400 tons.”

To call the revival a success would severely undercut the facts. Production of Afghani opium doubled by 2014, and Afghanistan’s potent poppies — rumored to be rivaled in quantity only by secreted fields of the North Korean government — soon dominated markets, comprising 90 percent of the entire planet’s supply.

Opiates fuel a crisis of dependence and addiction that — in tandem with a dearth of treatment programs attainable by those with low incomes or lacking insurance — has mushroomed into an epidemic, without indication of diminishing soon.

Correlation might not equal causation, but that span and gravity of that epidemic run in lockstep with the astronomical rise in production of Afghanistan’s opium — and both share a birthdate roughly coinciding with the U.S. invasion.

Opiates are profitable. Opioid prescription painkillers — doled out to Americans for temporary relief of pain, four times more often than in 1999 — are Big Pharma’s bread and butter. Even when the health of the millions stands in peril — an epidemic reaching across class, gender, race, and income lines to perfect a stranglehold — prescription opioids profit their manufacturers and distributors so many billions, ethics can’t take priority.

Sadly, and with tragic irony, the opioid crisis rekindled the flames of another highly ineffective war — the war on drugs. This most violent, futile, and rights-violating attack on Americans does nothing to stop the problem and only serves to bolster the bottom line of the prison industrial complex.

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In fact, the war on drugs has served its purpose in creating the very crisis it ostensibly fights — a result known by all those who’ve ever taken the time to study the horrid effects of prohibition. 

It must be understood, black-clad terrorists shouting, ‘Death to America!’ might offer a captivating tidbit for nightly national news. However, in actuality, these militants do not present so much as a distant threat to anyone living in the confines of the United States.

Rather, the unscrupulous players in the pharmaceutical industry, motivated by profit more than individuals’ long-term health — and their lackeys in government, specialists in lax legislation tough in language, only — whose decisions, given the chain of responsibility in crises, can ultimately destroy countless families.

Our government will wage this War on Terror, assumedly until the ‘threat’ of ‘terrorism’ decreases substantially. In the meantime, the opium overseas, guarded by U.S. troops and tended by local farmers both incentivized by and hawkishly watched by Taliban warlords, will be to blame for the epidemic killing scores the terrorists otherwise couldn’t.

Claire Bernish began writing as an independent, investigative journalist in 2015, with works published and republished around the world. Not one to hold back, Claire’s particular areas of interest include U.S. foreign policy, analysis of international affairs, and everything pertaining to transparency and thwarting censorship. To keep up with the latest uncensored news, follow her on Facebook or Twitter: @Subversive_Pen.
  • Amor Terra

    While chronic pain is real, it is not cured by opioids–ever. And whether you take your prescription opioids according to direction, or not, it is well-known (and scientifically supported) that long-term use of opioids leads to a decreased pain tolerance, which leads in one of two directions: 1) decreased quality of life-forever, due to the increasing perception of pain; or 2) more frequently, the use of stronger or more opioids. This, as is well-known, can lead to dependence or addiction and possible overdose or organ damage. This also costs society, and as the article points out, it costs tens of thousands of people their lives.

    • The Cat’s Vagina

      So, what do you recommend be done for people in severe pain whose conditions can’t be otherwise cured or mitigated?

      • Amor Terra

        It obviously would depend on the condition, what causes it, and a lot of other factors. There are a good number of them, though, that even the person experiencing them probably wouldn’t feel are worth addiction and death, if they were told the real likelihood of those occurrences, instead of the fake information peddled through the medical community. And many of the “causes” of chronic pain are curable or relieved with lifestyle and diet changes–as I and several people close to me have experienced.

      • billdeserthills


  • yvonnekara

    Thank you, starali. I have tried everything for my unbearable pain, and it took my doctor two years to convince me that addiction and dependence are entirely different things, and that if you are only taking medicine…yes, medicine, for pain, you do not get high, and will not need to require more and more to relieve your suffering. This is only the case for those who are seeking to get high, which I most certainly am not. It is frustrating, but compared to the side effects (many of which are much worse than what they are purported to cure), I accepted that dependency was a small price to pay. Although at the time, naively, I thought it meant I would be dependent on the medication to relieve my pain. I have since learned that you will become very ill if you stop taking your medication. Again, I am not happy about this development; however, it is a small price to pay in order to survive. Incidentally, I have been on the same dosage for 20 years, and have not ever asked for stronger or more medication. There are many things I still am unable to do (almost all of the things that made my life enjoyable), but I am able to care for myself and for that, I will always be grateful. Any substance can be abused, consider alcohol, which is legal and kills numerous people, directly or indirectly every year. To those who now have power over the quality of my life, which will be nonexistent without my medication, please keep in mind when you have a glass of wine (which you are allowed to purchase anywhere), that this does not make you an alcohol abuser — which I do not use at all — any more than my medication makes me a drug addict.

    • Amor Terra

      “This is only the case for those who are seeking to get high, which I most certainly am not.”
      You are both judgmental and wrong. My father, an ex-narcotics-cop who wouldn’t have gotten “high” to save his life, died because of long-term use of Fentanyl and hydrocodone under a doctor’s (IMO-foolish) orders. I can’t say whether you or anyone else could or would experience the same thing. But I do know for a fact that it happens.

      • The Cat’s Vagina

        Perhaps your father was using the medication improperly. It’s also possible that if he hadn’t died from “long-term use of Fentanyl,” he might have blown his own brains out rather than live with the pain. Doctors don’t give out Fentanyl to people who aren’t CLEARLY in agony!

        • Amor Terra

          It is extremely unlikely he misused the medication, as he set an alarm to take it and was about as compulsive as a human can be about his and my mother’s medications. Certainly, he had some pain and obviously he took them because he didn’t want to have pain, and by the later stages because he was completely dependent on them. I do wonder whether, when he first started having knee pain, if he would have gotten started on them if he’d known the likelihood that he’d need higher and higher doses to control the pain as he developed opioid-induced hyperalgesia (which studies have indicated that as many as 40-45% of opioid users do), and that he’d ultimately die from it by drowning in his own lungs.

          However, the woman’s comment was that these consequences don’t happen to people who aren’t looking to get high–and that was NOT my father. Moreover, I’ve stood in a hospital ER and heard a doctor give a prescription for hydrocodone to a person who wasn’t even complaining of pain after a minor car accident–as the doctor put it, “just in case” he had pain later.

          I don’t begrudge anyone their prescriptions, taken after being TRUTHFULLY informed of the real risks–but in many cases, including my parents’, that doesn’t happen. EVERYONE who takes them claims that they take them strictly according to directions, that they don’t need bigger doses or stronger types, and that they have no problems with them. However, that there are tens of thousands of people addicted to them and dying because of it makes clear that at least some of those people are not accurately portraying their use or experience.

  • Lorne Allen

    Don’t forget all the annoying crime associated with addiction: armed robberies, break and enters, thefts from vehicles, shoplifting, that affect the people who are not using, but they do result in a call to police, so at least somebody makes a “legitimate” dollar from those crimes.

    • The Cat’s Vagina

      All that “annoying crime” is a largely a side-effect of prohibition. If addicts were able to get their fix at a safe place for a reasonable price, they might not have to resort to crime to finance their habit. Also, prohibition keeps people from seeking help, which would eliminate a LOT of this “annoying crime.”

  • Anonymous

    We have pain. Some days we have a lot of pain, some days we don’t. There are even some days when we don’t have any pain. So far we haven’t needed pain meds. 🙂

  • alexandra

    Isn’t it interesting that Israel is a front liner on cannabis but the rest to the world pushes hillbilly heroin opiates. Have u ever wondered why they the top 1% travel by jet never going thru x-rays, I also wonder if they are eating GMO’s like the rest of us, are vaccinated to death like California and drinking fluoride in their water, I think not!

  • Mother Earth

    Military personal are used like beer, consumed , drained and then thrown away after use.