A respectable senior citizen friend of mine (a listener of the Rush Limbaugh show and whose son seriously abused heroin) once glared at me with utmost seriousness and religiously stated, “Heroin is the devil’s drug, and we need to do whatever we can to get rid of it.”
When I think of that statement, I almost feel the consequently powerful applause likely erupting at least nationally. That statement is apparently the most powerful testament to support Certain Drug Prohibition (a.k.a. the war on some drugs).
Though I respect the man who delivered that statement, and express my sympathies regarding the real damage caused by drug abuse in any case (while doing my part to help establish an effective solution to the problem), the far worse damage caused by law abuse (the worst form of abuse due to its mainly broad scope of destruction) in this case needs sufficient public resonating against that unfortunately intuitive applause.
By “whatever we can”, does that include making a deal with the devil to get rid of heroin (literally or not, depending upon your religious/non-religious stance)? Should “We the people” sell our national soul (logically our fundamental rights and our Constitution supposedly there to protect them) to get rid of heroin?
“We the people” have actually done something shockingly worse than make a deal with the devil in this case. We effectively gave our national soul to the devil and got nothing in return, based upon the whole truth and nothing but. Though I save the legal specifics in part validating that devilish gift for a later post in this series (at least tentatively titled “Tough on Crime”), suffice it to say there is no conclusive evidence proving we live in even a slightly more “drug-free” America as a result of the war on some drugs (we do not even have a “drug-free” prison system), so the heroin abuse problem has never diminished due to prohibition by any credible measure.
By asking the sadly typical “What about heroin?” question, Mr. Limbaugh, you fail to understand the obvious failure of prohibition to provide any positive impact (in addition to being hypocritical, at least constitutionally speaking, as “Tough on Crime” will undeniably expose).
“The head of Bayer’s research department reputedly coined the drug’s new name, ‘heroin,’ based on the German ‘heroisch,’ which means ‘heroic, strong.'” – Wikipedia (Heroin)
The “devil’s drug” (a.k.a. diacetylmorphine) was first popularized by Bayer (yes, that Bayer) around the very end of the 1800s.
“As with other opioids, diacetylmorphine is used as both a legal, medically-prescribed drug (e.g., as an analgesic, cough suppressant and as an anti-diarrhea drug) and a recreational drug, in which case the user is seeking euphoria and transcendent relaxation. Frequent and regular administration is associated with tolerance and physical dependence.” – still Wikipedia (Heroin)
Automatic painkillers are always potentially addictive when people fail to properly remedy the source of their pain (i.e. unhealthy stress). Even the prohibitionist U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) understands that fact, in part by publishing the statement, “Researchers have long recognized the strong correlation between stress and substance abuse”. Demonizing heroin (and its users) and demanding its prohibition is outrageous, at least considering that helpful painkillers come in many forms defying any sense in wasting taxpayer money to ineffectively target this addiction problem (in part by ridiculously selecting which painkillers are legal or not).
We also need to put the heroin abuse problem in proper perspective. Even ‘certain drug’ prohibitionists sometimes cite the annual U.S. National Survey on Drug Use and Health as a credible conclusion regarding illicit drug use nationally (although their results from that survey are highly questionable, to put it mildly and as I will likely address in a future post).
Years ago (I admittedly no longer remember exactly when, though my fair guess is circa 2007), I scrutinized several years of data from that survey. The table I searched for is still titled “Illicit drug use in the past month among individuals aged 12 or older”, because that logically presses maximally close to current illicit drug use, which is still my only necessary focal point in this case.
Back then, the data was consistent each year. About 8% of Americans use illicit drugs, according to that steadiness. That percentage has slightly moved up to about 9% in the latest survey (2013), and suffice it to say (in part due to my very busy status) there is no reason to believe that steadiness was lost during that nudge.
That means about 91% of Americans do not even use illicit drugs at all, so when we hear about the serious problem that is illicit drug abuse (and the constant demand for many billions of taxpayer dollars spent annually to support proponents of that demand), we are hearing a highly questionable demand that is never even close to sufficiently publicly questioned.
It gets worse for the aforementioned applauders. About 73% of that mere 8-9% of all illicit drug use is cannabis (a.k.a. marijuana) use, again according to that steadiness, so heroin use falls within about 2% of the American population. Thankfully for the sake of statistical reporting convenience here, that survey explicitly sets that heroin use percentage at 0.1%.
Finally, unlike deceptive prohibitionist posturing, science (and even the law itself) distinguishes between use and abuse, so logically abuse constitutes an even lower percentage, because our focus is upon a “Use” survey here. If we factor in the dependency rate of heroin, as concluded in the Institute of Medicine’s report commissioned by the prohibitionist Office of National Drug Control Policy (i.e. 23%), then heroin abuse falls well below even 0.1% (not to be lazy about it, but you get the point — heroin abuse occurs from the overwhelmingly minority of drug use cases, so not the ‘society-destroying virus’ that people seriously financially benefiting from its prohibition need to scare you into believing).
The heroin abuse problem is obviously worth addressing for victims of such abuse (including loved ones and communities negatively affected by that abuse), but when we factor in the heavy taxpayer expense and unproven effectiveness of prohibition (nonetheless the other points made throughout this post series), we can find no sanity in applauding the sanctioned thuggery wreaking havoc against society. Law abuse, and all of its nasty intended/unintended consequences, including that from abusive legal precedence, is the real society-destroying “virus” — one that too often breaks people to the serious degree ironically compelling drug abuse.
The sadly popular notion that formally recognizing heroin legality would cause heroin abuse to rise must include the baseless assumption that prohibition sometimes works.
Would you buy heroin upon its legality, while knowing an approximately 1-in-4 chance of becoming dependent exists upon using it, combined with the withdrawal ‘hell’ that eventually comes from not satisfying that dependency?
In all fairness, tobacco has a 32% dependency rate, according to the aforementioned report, and that product with basically a 1-in-3 chance of causing dependency has sold successfully for decades (consequently with an outrageous level of lawfully acceptable harm). However — without a prohibition — not only has education (apparently ignited by mainstream media coverage of the major lawsuit against tobacco companies many years ago — 1990s, memory serving — and the rise of mainstream Internet usage) caused a decline in tobacco use, but one business (CVS) recently voluntarily quit selling cigarettes at their popular chain.
When a product manufacturer sells a harmful product, they should righteously face a (perhaps costly, if not ruinous) lawsuit, and/or disaster in the true highest court of the land (the court of public opinion). Therefore the question regarding possible heroin consumption upon legality is not enough. Additionally, as a business owner, would you sell heroin upon its legality, while knowing the serious risk of liability that should then exist against your business? Okay, that question steers us in a different direction, as indicated by my insertion of the word “should” there. Vast societal harm from tobacco addiction (fast food addiction, etc.) has never led to business-ruining prosecution, at least in the case of major business players reaping serious revenue from common addictions. In other words, addiction is apparently not legally confirmed as harm, except arbitrarily effectively in the case of heroin and certain other drugs, so hypocrisy works against the credibility of the rule-of-law. Rationally speaking, to the extent the rule-of-law is discredited is naturally the extent that any society governed by that law becomes destabilized. Still applauding?
For now, the selling of heroin would occur, if sufficient demand exists, business ethics fail to prevent selling the powerfully addictive drug, and the court of public opinion does not effectively form disastrous liability against that seller(s), because addiction potential apparently does not equal legal liability.
Both the buying and selling factors ultimately depend upon the quality of relevant education. Tobacco existed throughout American history, and proclaimed success surrounding that product occurred, because the public understanding avoided recognizing any serious risks from tobacco use (while users found sufficient rewards from that usage). Even upon scientific validation of those risks, education was (and arguably still too often is) generally poor (preachy and/or lame, so ineffective) — entertainment to interestingly educate is the best (if not only actual) path forward for society with regards to not only heroin, but arbitrarily legal drugs such as alcohol.
Heroin, unlike tobacco upon its entrenchment in American society (nonetheless alcohol), already has been publicly stigmatized. The legality of heroin would not condone its use, but condemn its baseless and destructive (and illegal by any rational interpretation of U.S. law) prohibition, and yours truly expects the mainstream news of such legality to include that powerfully key information for public safety (and to help the mainstream media save whatever face they can for their seriously biased, so journalistically unethical, support for the war on some drugs).
When people understand the risks and rewards, proper adaptation usually ensues (i.e. survival instinct usually thankfully works). The assumption that heroin abuse rises not only includes the baseless assumption that prohibition sometimes works, but also the baseless assumption that no ‘heroin is very risky’ information will continue to prominently exist to a degree discouraging heroin acquisition.
By the way, while the dependency rate for alcohol is only 15%, according to the aforementioned study including dependency rates (not to mention 9% for cannabis with that report stating cannabis dependency is “generally mild”), the aforementioned prohibitionist NIDA states alcohol withdrawal symptoms are worse than that from heroin abuse. Anyone choosing alcohol due to its arbitrary legality as a cheap escape from unhealthy stress should first understand that serious warning.
Finally on this point, even if heroin abuse rises (certainly a possibility, considering stupidity certainly exists, regardless of the rule-of-law), the damage from that rise can never be ethically sufficient. Damage from its prohibition also needs inclusive factoring. In the case of heroin legality, after putting aside (only to make this important point) the well-known damage from the multiple-decade-long experience of prohibition, damage from prohibition would need to be factored in similar to the current factoring of damage from legalized heroin abuse to prevent heroin legality (through inevitable speculation negating fairness, so justice, in law).
The devil usually appears as a trustworthy individual tricking the righteous into falling for temptation (memory serving, and disclaiming that I am not a Christian or such). Based upon the whole truth and nothing but, the result in this case is too many members of law enforcement (and their prohibitionist supporters) have become seriously ironically addicted to the power (including money) that only comes from Certain Drug Prohibition, so they more devastatingly fell into the devil’s trap (at heavy societal expense, no less — as conclusively proven by the millions of non-rights-infringing people negatively affected to varying degrees, including a deadly one, by that prohibition for several decades and insanely counting).
That prohibition addiction is what too many people (including you, Mr. Limbaugh) are actually supporting (if not also applauding). I hope you turn your powerful applause towards those of us working against all forms of addiction on behalf of legitimate members of law enforcement (i.e. those wonderful people thankfully serving and protecting the public — not desiring the serious financial boost from sanctioned thuggery against non-violent people) and everyone else negatively affected by pitifully giving away our national soul (part of what you unfortunately call “American exceptionalism”, Mr. Limbaugh).
One easily argues that heroin abuse comes from precisely the same mentality prompting you to abuse prescription painkillers (oxycodone and hydrocodone), Mr. Limbaugh, so when you ask, “What about heroin?”, I can only sanely counter, “What about the societal damage caused by the hypocrisy that you warmly embrace, and that should instead have your program shut down and have you put behind bars for the sake of consistent application of the intent of law?” Fairness is required for justice, factually speaking.
Certain Drug Prohibition (i.e. the Controlled Substances Act and every supposedly lawful result spawned from it throughout all levels of government) is the devil’s law, and we need to do whatever we righteously can to get rid of it.
Now what do you applaud in this case?
I thank you, if you applaud my (preferably our) case for helping improve exceptionalism (nationally and elsewhere).