The opioid epidemic is worse than ever, with the death toll due to drug overdose rivaling that of AIDS in the 1990s. How bad is it? It is now the leading cause of death for Americans under fifty years of age. And among this death toll, two thirds are from opioid overdoses.
And this didn’t happen overnight either.
Factors Leading to Drug Overdoses
Understanding drug abuse entails recognizing the patterns that lead to the condition. As observed from the various routes that drug addicts have taken to their problem, this is the most common journey:
- People are prescribed an opioid like OxyContin or Vicodin for pain relief, and they get addicted to it.
- After their original cause of pain has healed, they are cut off from the opioid.
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms, the now-addicted person looks for illegal alternatives, and finds a high quality, affordable version easily on the black market.
If you’re wondering where this cheap and premium quality drug is coming from—it’s Afghanistan.
And ever since the invasion in 2001, the opium use in America has matched the opium production in Afghanistan.
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) mapped the levels of opium production in Afghanistan.
It is highly unlikely that this massive scale of opium production would be unknown to the government of the United States. And all available evidence points towards the fact that U.S forces are tolerating the thriving opium trade in exchange for loyalty from the political leaders in Afghanistan. This is a process that went up to POTUS at one time. As The New York Times reported:
Ever since the American-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, critics have charged that the Bush administration has failed to take aggressive action against the Afghan narcotics trade, because of both opposition from the Karzai government and reluctance by the United States military to get bogged down by eradication and interdiction efforts that would antagonize local warlords and Afghan poppy farmers. Now, Afghanistan provides about 95 percent of the world’s supply of heroin.
Just as the Taliban have benefited from money produced by the drug trade, so have many officials in the Karzai government, according to American and Afghan officials. Thomas Schweich, a former senior State Department counternarcotics official, wrote in The New York Times Magazine in July that drug traffickers were buying off hundreds of police chiefs, judges and other officials. “Narco-corruption went to the top of the Afghan government,” he said.
The US dealings with drug leaders and politicians benefiting from drug trafficking is nothing new. During the 1960s and 1970s, US agencies made deals with various opium dealers throughout Southeast Asia in exchange for political support. And in the 1980s, the CIA facilitated cocaine import in LA as a result of a deal with Central and South American dealers in return for support in the Contras war.
And while these dealings and collaborations may have political necessities as the root cause, they completely contradict the US “War on Drugs” campaign. And if the country really wants to restrain the opioid epidemic, then it has a simple solution—stop the war in Afghanistan.