On the so-called opioid crisis, the media and political class are continuing to treat a migraine by amputating a toe. We have plain but totally ignored evidence and data showing that the record fatalities from drugs are a national security-related many-drug crisis brought on by drug cartels, the surge in Central American immigration, and sanctuary cities, not prescription opioids.
Yesterday, the New York Times and other media outlets posted articles headlining the record 72,000 deaths from drugs in 2017, according to preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). They immediately proceeded to make the issue all about addiction and health care and prescription opioids when, in fact, prescription deaths are down dramatically in most states and the entirety of the surge in deaths is from illicit drugs and poisonous substances laced into other drugs by cartels and drug traffickers, not doctors.
Meanwhile, Roll Call reports that red-state Democrats are trying to save their seats by passing more expensive drug-monitoring programs and more government involvement in health care. In fact, these are the very same politicians who have created and exacerbated the problem with open borders, sanctuary cities, weak immigration laws, and the dismantling of tough-on-crime policies.
There are two reasons why the political class cannot tell the truth about the nature and cause of the epidemic-level increase in fatalities since the border surge of 2014: It implicates their open-borders agenda, and it implicates their agenda to decriminalize drug trafficking as part of “criminal justice reform.” These are two sacred cows with the weight of the political and corporate universe behind them. It’s a lot easier to treat doctors like drug traffickers and stable, chronic pain patients like drug addicts than to address the real drug cartels. And to the extent that there is a health care problem, a lot of it is because of the Medicaid program creating a pipeline of diverted prescriptions on the streets. That is another political untouchable.
According to the preliminary 2017 data (still just an estimate), only 14,330 of the fatalities were from prescription opioids, which is fewer than the 16,800 in 2016 and in line with the long-standing trend. And as I’ve explored ad nauseum in this column, most of those deaths are due to mixing with illicit drugs, sleeping pills, or alcohol. In addition, there is strong evidence that a number of the fatalities listed on death certificates as morphine-related were really from heroin. In other words, pain patients or post-op patients who need painkillers and have no history of abuse or mental or emotional issues rarely overdose. Yet they are being harmed by government clamping down on prescriptions while ignoring the illicit drug trade.
In an article in the April issue of the American Journal of Public Health, CDC researchers admitted that previous government data inaccurately conflated prescription drug deaths with illicit street drug deaths. They conceded that although “opioid-involved deaths were at their greatest levels ever in 2016 … prescription opioid-involved deaths estimated more conservatively have leveled off since 2012.”
A look at the CDC’s state-by-state data, as well as other data I’ve compiled from more accurate state health agencies in the most affected states, reveals the following:
Even Canadian officials are now concerned that the vast network of Mexican drug cartels in America are creating a new Canadian fentanyl problem, yet our media refuses to recognize the Mexican cartels as the primary source of our own problem.
The Senate is now working on dozens of bills designed to spend more money, clamp down on doctors, and harm pain patients. But legislators refuse to recognize the border and sanctuary problem. Worse, they are working on convincing Trump to go weaker on drug traffickers. We’re not talking about your parents’ marijuana here.
Sen. Tom Cotton perfectly illustrated the insane hypocrisy of the political class on this issue:
America faces a drug epidemic. 72,000 Americans died of overdoses in 2017, a record high. Why would Congress even consider letting drug dealers out of prison & reducing sentences for criminals poisoning our streets. By contrast, @realDonaldTrump suggested the death penalty!
— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) August 15, 2018
As I observed earlier this week, a growing part of this problem is synthetic marijuana sold at Yemeni-owned convenient stores and mini-marts containing rat poison. Twenty youngsters dropped like flies in a Connecticut park yesterday after overdosing on a bad batch of synthetic marijuana. This is not a health care issue; it’s a cultural issue tied into a national security issue.
Several weeks ago, four people died and over 300 were sickened in the D.C. area as youngsters dropped in the streets like zany zombies from what is believed to be a poisoned batch of K2 synthetic marijuana. The CDC believes that 255 people have died the same way this year.
A sane country that believed this was a true emergency would:
Instead, politicians did the exact opposite on those issues and then severely limited pain medication for those who never overdose. Cutting off legitimate pain medication while flooding our country with Mexican drug cartels and releasing drug traffickers from prison might be the most insane and toxic mix of policies the government has pursued in recent memory. At this point, the pendulum on prescription killers has swung too far the other way, the same way the pendulum on de-incarceration of drug traffickers has already swung too far.
This disgraceful amalgamation of government inanity – pursuing a witch hunt against doctors and coddling drug traffickers – will either exacerbate the growing suicide crisis or push more otherwise stable people into the street market of dangerous poisonous drugs, thanks to open borders and the war against prosecuting drug traffickers. The real opioid crisis is the ignorance of the politicians – a very expensive commodity indeed.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.