Heroin deaths are on the rise again in the US. While there has been a steady increase in use over the years, the main reason for the increase in deaths is because the product is becoming more dangerous. A new trend of cutting the drug with the very strong post-surgery painkiller Fentanyl is largely to blame for the recent spike in deaths that are occurring around the country.
Fentanyl is approximately 80 to 100 times more potent than morphine and roughly 40 to 50 times more potent than pharmaceutical grade (100% pure) heroin.
Since Fentanyl is so strong, it can be mixed with heroin and other adulterants to trick people into thinking that they are getting more heroin than they actually are. However, the risk of death and overdose greatly increase because Fentanyl is very disruptive to the respiratory system.
"The more narcotic you take, the less your body has an urge to breathe, and it makes sense that a lot of people are overdosing on it because they aren't sure how much to take," Dr. J.P. Abenstein, president of the American Society of Anesthesiologists said in a statement.
As I have explained countless times in the past, these types of dangerous knock-off drugs are a direct result of prohibition. If you have missed my previous drug war articles, I will summarize how prohibition makes drugs more dangerous.
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In the black market, one of the major drawbacks is that there is no accountability among the people selling the drug. Since anyone can get kidnapped and thrown in a cage for even dealing with the stuff, it really doesn’t make sense for people to be plastering their names and logos all over the drugs.
In this age of corporate mercantilism logos and branding may seem like a really tacky idea, but when looking at the black market we can see the value in such things. Someone who is selling a product with their name on it, is going to go through far greater lengths to ensure the quality of their product, as opposed to someone who would remain anonymous.
The anonymity creates an incentive for people to be dishonest with what they sell, leading to rip-offs or downright contamination of the drug with unwanted harmful substances. This is why there was bathtub gin that would make you go blind if you drank it during alcohol prohibition. This is also the reason why some of the harder street drugs today are cut with toxic chemicals that increase the chance of overdose ten fold. The fact that the drugs need to be smuggled also creates the incentive to make drugs more potent, and thus, in some circumstances more dangerous.
The increased potency and decreased availability inevitably leads to a massive increase in cost. The increased cost is a whole other issue with its own unique side effects in regards to drug safety. When the price of the real drugs go up, people just start huffing paint thinner, smoking bath salts and cooking up crystal meth in their basements, which is then even many times more dangerous than the unbranded drugs on the black market.
If you want to stop the overdoses, decrease crime, and deal a death blow to the for-profit prison system, there is a simple solution - End the War on Drugs.
John Vibes is an author, researcher and investigative journalist who takes a special interest in the counter-culture and the drug war. In addition to his writing and activist work, he organizes a number of large events including the Free Your Mind Conference, which features top caliber speakers and whistle-blowers from all over the world. You can contact him and stay connected to his work at his Facebook page. You can find his 65 chapter Book entitled “Alchemy of the Timeless Renaissance” at bookpatch.com.