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Jonathan Alpeyrie : The Drug Crisis in the United States


The Opioid crisis in the United States has become one of the most worrisome issue across the land. Between the increase of the International drug trade and the drug consumption by American citizens, the United State government and its attached drug law inforcement agencies have been incapable in stemming the flow of illicit drugs crossing its Southern borders. The illegal drug trade is, however, only part of the story. Indeed in the time span of twenty years, Americans have gotten hooked on prescription drugs from OxiContin, Xanax, Adderall or Codeine and other types of Opioid based Opium derivative drugs. Furthermore, new types of highly addictive synthetic drugs have also entered the market in the form of Fentanyl and Ketamine, adding to an already dire situation. This combination of illegal and prescribed drug consumptions has created a perfect storm of addiction across the land. In fact, where it used to mostly be an issue in large ghetto urban centers like New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago and Philadelphia, has now spread everywhere across the country hitting small and medium size towns from the Mid West to the Southern more religious States.

Overdose from drug use kills now more than breast cancer, guns, or car accident combined, making it one of the deadliest trend in the United States. In 2021, it is estimated that 108 thousand Americans have died due to drug overdose, an increased from 92 thousands in 2020, and 71 thousands in 2019. 2022 has so far set a new record high with 115 thousands.

The United States authorities has so far been unwilling to address the issue on the national stage in order to create a national debate as a first step to understand what is going on with the growing addiction affliction.

Since statistics on the matter are to be taken with a grain of salt, we will try to draw an accurate picture. In 2022 it was estimated that over 39% of Americans abuse pain killers and other types of illegal drugs, a staggering amount of the overall population.

This uncontrollable drug pandemic has reached most corner of US society: from rich to poor, from small town folks to large urban city dwellers, drug use is now common. Indeed, drug consumption, which used to be for the rich with the use of cocaine in the 70’s and 80’s or for Jazz musicians in the 40’s and 50’s with Heroine, has now infiltrated most social classes. The popularization of drugs as a whole within our society, within our culture has certainly not helped, in fact, it has accelerated its popularity amongst youth of all social classes.

The arrival of many new types of drugs on the streets and within our pharmacies has further exacerbated these trends. Fentanyl, though an FDA approved analgesic in 1968 has become a public health crisis in the early 2000’s as a use for pain relief. Seeing its devastating affect and addictive nature, Mexican drug cartels were quick to jump on that new money making opportunity and started producing it in large quantities only a few years ago. With this new cash cow, and open policy after 2020, the cartels South of the border flooded US street with a highly potent and addictive, yet extremely dangerous if used in significant doses. Last year alone over 70 thousands Americans died from Fentanyl use. The substance has now found its way in most drugs like Cocaine, Crack but especially Heroin, which, if mixed with just a little too much Fentanyl will become a hot dose, in another word an overdose. News of young American teenagers and adults dying from Fentanyl because of Cocaine use if becoming widespread as the consumers usually does not know the drugs are laced with the deadly addictive substance.

These troubling trends are especially visible in large declining urban areas like Baltimore and Philadelphia where drugs and gang crime has been on the rise for years now, rendering these cities unattractive to live in and do business with. The situation in Baltimore, is especially telling as gangs, which control parts of the city have been making lots of cash selling Fentanyl laced Heroin to its addicted clients. It is estimated that over 350 thousands Baltimoreons use drugs, close to 800 died last year. In Philadelphia, the situation is even more dire due to the infamous quarter of Kensington which has become and open air legal drug market where thousands of addicts from across the land merge to buy and consume their favorite poison right off the streets. Last year so far, 2400 locals in Philadelphia died due to overdose. More than 850 thousand locals now use drugs more or less regularly.

These staggering numbers are yet to increase further if nothing is done to address the issue. The CDC now refers to the drug epidemic as a national disaster, which can easily be seen as a strategic issue for the US as now such a large part of its population is using drugs and dying from them. Indeed, the average expectancy has decreased for the first time in the US since 2019 from 79 years to 77 in 2020, and 76 in 2021. Drug overdose death, though not the only culprit, Covid 19 being one of them, has certainly helped tremendously in bringing this national trend downward.

Jonathan Alpeyrie

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