The opiate epidemic has reached an all-time high in the United States, with drug-related deaths now surpassing deaths from vehicle accidents. Statista’s Niall McCarthy wrote, “drug-induced deaths (have) reached 49,714 while road crash deaths fell to 32,675,” in 2014. Opioid- and heroin-related deaths have reached epidemic levels. According to the Centers for Disease Control, "Since 2000, the rate of deaths from drug overdoses has increased 137%, including a 200% increase in the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids (opioid pain relievers and heroin)."
With over 1 million heroin users in the U.S., heroin-related deaths are skyrocketing, made possible in part, as McCarthy says, by the cheap supply of heroin, governmental regulations, and Fentanyl-infused heroin (50 times more potent than heroin).
While progress is being made to reduce deaths by vehicle, with safer vehicles on the road and the future promise of driverless vehicles, very little is being done to curtail the rising deaths from opiates.
McCarthy says many of those deaths are attributable to the government’s insistence opioids be manufactured differently. “It involved changing the texture of the pills to make them more difficult to crush and inject into the bloodstream. That move made people shift over to heroin in droves,” he wrote.
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But there seems to be hope for heroin and opiate addicted Americans seeking to beat their addiction. As The Free Thought Project has reported, Kratom, a highly beneficial naturally grown plant, shows promise in helping addicts defeat their disease. Kratom, when taken in pill, tea, or tincture form, has opiate-like properties, which help users curb their cravings for heroin and opiates.
Public outcry kept the federal government from classifying Kratom as a narcotic in September, but it’s anyone’s guess whether or not the new Trump Administration will push through its original plans to outlaw yet another plant. For now, Kratom is still available.
Americans’ struggle with opium and heroin addiction goes all the way back to the American Civil War, when soldiers on the battlefield were given opium-derived morphine for pain. Morphine gave way to the creation of Methadone in 1937. And then in the mid-80’s into the 1990’s, the pharmaceutical companies created synthetic opiates: Vicodin, OxyContin, and Percocet.
Michael Botticelli, Obama’s so-called “Drug Czar”, knows all too well about the pain associated with losing a loved one. Botticelli’s brother died of a prescription painkiller and alcohol overdose, and likely takes his role in the war on addiction-related deaths quite personally. "He wants police officers nationwide to be trained to use naloxone, a nasal spray or injection that can almost instantly resuscitate people who overdose on opiates; better education for prescribers of painkillers and other drugs so that they can recognize signs of abuse or addiction; and the distribution of clean syringes for intravenous drug users to stem the spread of infectious diseases like H.I.V. and hepatitis C. 'Locking people up for minor drug offenses, and especially people with substance-use disorders, is not the answer,' Mr. Botticelli said. 'It’s cruel. It’s costly. And it doesn’t make the public any safer.'"
Newsweek described the nature of the problem, “A recent CDC report found that more people died from drug overdoses in the U.S. in 2014 than in any other year on record—and over 60 percent of those deaths came from opioids. And as the media coverage, town hall meetings and local legislative hand-wringing over the past 18 months have shown, things are only getting worse. A new heroin scourge has risen out of the ruins of the 2000's opioid craze, and, unlike previous incarnations in the late 1960s and ’70s, it’s no longer confined to the seedy alleyways of the nation’s big cities. This time it’s sweeping through working- and middle-class America."
In America, opioids are readily accessible, simply by complaining of chronic pain. And with marijuana’s proven ability to treat chronic pain, why wouldn’t the federal government remove its ban on cannabis and allow marijuana to be sold legally in all 50 states, not just the 29 or so which now have medical marijuana options? Americans need to become aware that marijuana may be a safer option for treating pain, and may also serve as an alternative to heroin and prescription based opiates. The stigma associated with marijuana must be removed, availability readily accessible, and the fear of being arrested and prosecuted for marijuana use removed. For now, heroin and opioid addicts should investigate the benefits of using Kratom as an all-natural option to treat their opiate addiction, and stay alive.