Inside a Killer Drug Epidemic: A Look at America’s Opioid Crisis – The New York Times

” “Harm reduction” is an approach that was to some degree pioneered here. One of the nation’s first clean-needle exchanges started in nearby Tacoma in 1988.

 

King County is now considering opening what could be the country’s first safe-injection site. There, addicts could use drugs under supervision by a health worker who may, crucially, also open the door to recovery programs, all under one roof.”

These are tragic anecdotes, and horrifying statistics. Over 33,000 deaths to opiod addiction in the US in 2015. “The worst drug crisis in American history.”

I picked out the facts above, because they indicate the solution. Medicalize the problem. Make the addictive drugs legal or non-criminalized, and tens of thousands, perhaps millions,  will be able to get professional help, while supplies will become less expensive and safer, and the obscene profits from the illegal trade will no longer destabilize politicians, courts and police and the young and old people who find illegal drug dealing irresistible.

My son Austin, before he died of a heroin overdose on August 5th, 2011, probably the first time he ever played with the drug, said more than once, “Dad, it is hard to stop dealing. I make so much money for so little work.” Austin, may he rest in peace, was addicted to the huge margins of the illegal drug trade. He quit a perfectly good job as a cook in a restaurant, and lied to his parents, saying he still worked there. He certainly had money to spend.

Though I might be an amateur economist, there are many famous economists who quietly support legalization. See the other posts in this blog. See the argument of Prohibition.

Advertisements

Young Victims of the Opioid Epidemic – The New York Times

“Opioid overdoses have claimed more than 300,000 lives in the last 15 years, including some 33,000 in 2015 alone. But those numbers do not tell the full horror of this epidemic, which has devastated the lives of countless children whose parents have succumbed to addiction to prescription painkillers and other opiates. In one terrible case last month, a Pennsylvania couple died of apparent overdoses, and their baby perished from starvation a few days later.”

A successful effort to reduce drug addiction would look very different than our current war on drugs. It would be complex and multilayered. As several famous economists, including Herbert Stein and Martin Feldstein, have noted, we have to legalize and decriminalize addictive drugs to end the epidemic and the illegal trades horrific, related crime. We would have to have a Marshall Plan of support for addicts, possibly including the unemployed. One of my goals is too elaborate more on each idea either in a book, or at my blog, InconvenientNews.wordpress.com. My son Austin died in 2010. He is one of the 300,000 to die in the current epidemic. The illegal trade is a powerful force, a $50 Billion a year business that is destabilizing familes and governments around the world.