Opinion – ‘Lock them up:’ My double standard in responding to the crack crisis vs. the opioid epidemic – The Washington Post

Here's an unusual article that's a recommended read. The author recalls his first-hand experiences as a pastor in a multcultural community. He reflects, 'As I look back at my own calls for harsher sentencing legislation, I can only confess that I was complicit in doing the wrong thing'.

Source: ‘Lock them up:’ My double standard in responding to the crack crisis vs. the opioid epidemic – The Washington Post

This article is important in comparing the ‘crack epidemic‘ of the eighties to current ‘opioid epedemic’. The pastor sums it up in his words:

So what I am struck by now is how my perspective has changed. Sure, I’m a few decades older and have learned some things, but it’s worth noting what crack meant to us. It meant black street crime.

Today, what the opioid epidemic means for many of us: Whites need treatment.

Perhaps, there are still two standards in the US, one for blacks and another for whites? Given that Pew Research has recently cited 50% of US families have been impacted by the opioid crisis, there’s now a political incentive for politicians to be seen to be engaged helping encouraging more funding for treatment and prevention.

But there’s another factor, overprescription of opioids to older Americans looks to be peaking. But the ugly part of the opioid crisis is the massive explosion of illegal opiods by criminals – prices are tumbling and greater volumes are entering the marketing targeted at younger users.

Surely the criminal aspects of the ‘crack epedemic’ are not so dissimilar from the crimal aspects of the ‘opioid epedemic’? So are the media and political classes now softer on crime?



Opinion – Opioid epidemic shares chilling similarities with the past – The Washington Post

English: Three drug addicts seen smoking a hug...

English: Three drug addicts seen smoking a huge amount of crack cocaine, in a downtown eastside alley, in Vancouver BC Canada. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here’s an excellent article by The Washington Post. It reports that while declaring the opioid crisis a national public health emergency, President Donald Trump said: “Nobody has seen anything like what’s going on now.” The article takes a longitudinal perspective, using historic evidence, to challenge Trump’s assertion.

Source: Opioid epidemic shares chilling similarities with the past – The Washington Post

The article is important because it highlights many major drug epidemics in the US, going back to the Civil War. There are a number of recurrent themes, including aggressive marketing from pharmaceutical companies, and the growing importance of illegal drugs. Another recurrent theme is widespread use of drugs in the US miliary, especially in wars.

Unfortunately, the article does not provide a checklist of winning intervention strategies. While there are some clues, it misses the point that perhaps the context has changed. For example, there’s now a global supply-chain of illicit drugs to US addicts and the CIA with its interventions in Afghanistan is an integral player. Also social attitudes are different – the public quickly turned against ‘crack cocaine‘ users but there’s a widespread sympathy for opioid addicts. Recent research by Pew highlights that nearly fifty percent of US families can cite a member with opioid addiction, so perhaps the current crisis is larger as Trump highlighted.

There are many threads to the current US opioid epidemic. Older addicts have typically turned to prescriptions and overzealous doctors and drug companies have rushed to meet their needs. But the more alarming threat is to younger addicts who are turning to imported, illegal drugs.

Perhaps, there’s room to focus on sociological trends in US society that leave the underprivileged, from lower social groupings, light on education and skills, weak on motivation, and deprived of opportunity – all highly vulnerable to drug addiction?