A Misguided 'War on Drugs'

The New York Times publishes this opinion from a UN health specialist and a UN torture specialist based on facts from around the world. Here is the link.

Posted by Dave Trippel on June 25, 2009 at 02:54 PM in Current Affairs, Law Enforcement, Licensing and Legislation, Prescription Drugs | Permalink

Oxycontin and the opium epidemic of the 21st century

Larry Golbom argues that the pharmaceutical industry has created an opium epidemic in the name of pain management.  For more, see here.

The paragraphs of most interest to historians are as follows:

It is my contention that we presently are well into the first 12 years of what future historians will refer to as the “opium epidemic of the 21st century”. From a historical perspective, in the beginning of the 20th century it is reported that 27% of the adult male population in China was estimated to be addicted to opium. With the recent dramatic increase in raw opium being imported into our country to make oxycodone (OxyContin), hydrocodone (Vicodin), and all the legal opium derivatives, the statistics available from a number of government agencies can help surmise the number of addicts that have been created since the introduction of OxyContin by the FDA in 1996.

Thousands of years ago, opium was originally ingested as the pure juice from the plant and later manipulated into a formulation that could be smoked for instant gratification. The various alkaloids (natural constituents) within the opium plant can also create or be changed into additional addictive and deadly molecular entities in various forms. In 1803 Morphine was isolated from the plant and with the invention of the hypodermic syringe in 1853 morphine was a welcome miracle during the Civil War. However, the 400,000 morphine addicts, better known as “the soldier’s disease”, created after the war is seldom discussed. In the late 1800’s Heroin was synthesized from Morphine. In 1916 Oxycodone (active ingredient of OxyContin) was created and Hydrocodone (active ingredient in (Vicodin) was discovered in 1920. With the epidemics of pneumonia and tuberculosis in the late 1800’s, heroin was introduced as a “cough product”. In 1943 hydrocodone was approved by the FDA as a cough suppressant and oxycodone made its inroads into medicine via an approval of the drug Percodan in 1950. It is important to note that whether the active ingredients for euphoria come from the pure opium juice or a product that is derived from the opium plant the results of potential addiction, withdrawal and possible death are identical.

Rush Limbaugh for OxycontinThe history of our drug laws make for interesting reading in conjunction with our history of racial phobias. In the 1850’s San Francisco leaders had a fear that “white people were starting to smoke opium with the Chinese” which led to a ban on opium smoking in that city. Later, William Randolph Hearst reported that “white women were being seduced by Chinese men in opium dens. Southern Democrats supported stricter laws on narcotics because “the cocaine crazed Negro brain” was creating problems. In the 1930’s it was stated that “Mexicans were marijuana users and marijuana use caused violence”. In other words, the original drug laws were passed for the blatantly wrong reasons!

Posted by David Fahey on January 2, 2009 at 01:10 PM in Opium, Prescription Drugs | Permalink

Cindy McCain's addiction to prescription painkillers

The Washington Post tells the tangled story of Cindy McCain's addiction to prescription painkillers here.

Posted by David Fahey on September 12, 2008 at 05:45 PM in Prescription Drugs | Permalink

Valium replaces heroin as street drug of choice in Britain

In Britain valium has become the street drug of choice because heroin has dropped in quality and availability. For more, see here.

Posted by David Fahey on September 2, 2008 at 07:55 PM in Britain, Heroin, Prescription Drugs | Permalink

Addiction to prescription painkillers in southwestern Virginia

Miners and other poor people in southwestern Virginia are increasingly addicted to prescription painkillers. For more, see here.

Posted by David Fahey on January 12, 2008 at 03:06 PM in Prescription Drugs, United States | Permalink

Methadone-related deaths in USA increasing more rapidly than cocaine-related deaths

According to a recent report issued by the Justice Department's National Intelligence Drug Center, methadone-related deaths in America have increased nearly 400% from 786 in 1999 to 3849 in 2004. For context, see the deaths related to cocaine that during the same period increased 43% from 3822 to 5461.

Posted by David Fahey on January 12, 2008 at 03:00 PM in Cocaine, Prescription Drugs, United States | Permalink

Youthful abuse of cough and cold medicines to get high

According to a 2006 study, 3.1 million Americans aged 12 to 25 have used cough and cold medicines to get high, a figure much higher for this age group than those who used methamphetamines. The same study showed that for this age group 82% have used marijuana and nearly half have used inhalants or hallucingens such as LSD or Ecstasy. For more, see here.

Posted by David Fahey on January 10, 2008 at 09:25 PM in Cannabis, Drugs (general), Ecstasy, Hallucinogens, Methamphetamine, Prescription Drugs, United States | Permalink

Study: Teens getting high on legal drugs

Slightly fewer adolescents abused illegal drugs and alcohol in 2006, but fairly high numbers of them continued to abuse prescription narcotics, according to a new US study.

CNN reports.

Posted by Cynthia on February 9, 2007 at 11:54 AM in Prescription Drugs, United States | Permalink

Access to legal drugs fueling teen drug culture

ABC News reports that teens are increasingly turning to prescription and over-the-counter medicines to get high.  Find the full story here.

Posted by Cynthia on January 11, 2007 at 01:47 PM in Prescription Drugs | Permalink

What lifts people out of addiction?

Pittsburgh's Post-Gazette reports on the dilemma of resorting to medication to ease the pains of addiction.

Posted by Cynthia on October 30, 2006 at 08:01 AM in Addiction, Alcohol (general), Alcoholism, Drugs (general), Prescription Drugs | Permalink