By Brad Blankenship
November 22, 2017 – telesurtv.net
Opioids, a class of drugs chemically similar to the painkiller morphine, have been sweeping across North America since the late 1990s into the first two decades of the 2000s. These powerful sedative drugs, which include prescription painkillers like oxycodone and powerful street drugs such as heroin, are extremely deadly because their depressant effects can stop a user from breathing. Because of their widespread and ever-increasing use, drug overdose deaths “are the leading cause of injury death in the United States,” according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS).
According to HHS statistics from 2015, 12.5 million people in the U.S. abused prescription opioid drugs – including 2.1 million first time users, and another 828,000 used heroin – including 135,000 first time users. Together, 33,091 people died from opioid drug overdoses and the economy took a $78.5 billion hit as a result of lost productivity. However, the blight of drug addiction, which is commonly thought to be an equal opportunity life-destroyer, is actually discriminatory in who it targets. Drug addiction hits those who are economically disenfranchised harder than those who are secure in employment and have well-paying jobs.
As Maia Szalavitz, an author on drug addiction, wrote in The Guardian:
“In many black communities, before crack took off, unemployment rates had been high and rising, driven by the decline in manufacturing jobs and biased hiring and firing practices… and [now] white America looks economically a lot more like black America in the 1990s: stable, well-paying jobs are disappearing, replaced by lower-wage positions with far more uncertainty.”
As good high-paying jobs, particularly manufacturing jobs that were once common in the “Rust Belt,” disappeared, drug addiction spiked beginning in the late 1990s in the white working class. Statistics show that drug use rates are higher amongst the unemployed, and far higher for those who are chronically unemployed or underemployed.
7 thoughts on “Drugs Don’t Kill People, Neoliberalism Kills People”
While this article does a fair job of highlighting the current opioid drug problem, I find the title a bit misleading. The writer does not explore and explain sufficiently how neoliberalism facilitates the current drug issues. And any discussion on neoliberalism is incomplete without also discussing globalization.
It ignores big businesses involvement in the illegal drug trade that uses this same ease of access to markets and removal of trade barriers to transport and distribute illegal drugs. This illegal drug trade also contributes to violent crimes, which is a bigger picture than the writer paints.
Neoliberalism and the drug trade is not an area i have read extensively. However, I have done a lot of reading on neoliberalism and globalisation
I agree that the article is not a complete piece of research. I think though, the writer is making the link between the neoliberal drive for profits, through exporting jobs and driving down salaries, together with job insecurities, to the impoverishment of communities in the U.S. The anxieties contribute to more people seeking alternative forms of comfort and reality through drug use.
Leanna, you almost hit the nail on its head. Neoliberalism, is truly what the NEW WORLD ORDER/GLOBALISATION is all about. The writer tend to be masking the article somewhat, unlike Crack Cocaiane which was directed to the black community, Opioid epidemic is ravaging White America, the establishment haven’t declared war on drugs, but using subtle means in trying to alleviate this National problem. As a Depressant, Heroin is a killer, and who ent dead, go be badly wounded, if you think Crack Cocaine as a Stimulant had Trinidad playing on the back foot, Heroin and Methadone will really put the country into a spin, I hope Trinidad’ health institutions are getting a grip on this deadly potent. Just like Crack Cocaine, the USA Gov’t and her Corporations, are directly involved in the world distribution of Opioids, this multi-billion drug trade, stretches from Afghanistan, East Asia and Mexico. Mexican cartels, presently stretching their tentacles through out the Caribbean chain, is bad news for Trinidad. With Carnival around the corner, it may be touch down time for Trinidad, i’m personally calling on Trinidad’ law enforcement to be vigilant, now till Carnival and beyond. Yuh think, Trinidad have CRIME? just wait until this Monster settles among Trinidad’ Wretched, it is presently the DRUG of Trinidad’ Affluent, i bet.
“Drugs Don’t Kill People, Neoliberalism Kills People”.
Don’t mean to be facetious but the 33,091 individuals she refers to died of opioid drug overdose; they did not overdose themselves with Neoliberalism and I don’t think anyone ever has. While the the neoliberal drive for profits may increase anxieties as JustRight says, and may cause some people to seek relief through drugs, it is the latter that seals their fate, but more than that it is their decision to seek false comfort in the use of drugs that is to be really blamed. I don’t understand why people are always looking to blame external factors rather than looking within and taking responsibilities for their actions.
See any parallels here, Cooper? And given the copycat mentality of YOUR “Wretched” I guess it only a matter of time before opioid drug overdose comes knocking on their door.
Who knows, it may just be a blessing in disguise.
While people are ultimately responsible for their actions, no attempt to address a problem could exclude what drives people to do what they do. You cannot focus on the ant that bites you alone; you must find the nest and its food source. The article focuses on neoliberalism—a major factor that leads people to despair and drugs. The parallels are the same when examining drug use and crime in Trinidad and Tobago.
Leanna’s response that neo-liberalism should be integrated with globalization has merit. The term liberalism (economic) was introduced when the crash of the stock market took place in the 30s. This term was used adjunct to capitalism. The prefix ‘neo’ attached to that word of liberalism is a revival of that word -‘liberalism’. Alcohol, Marijuana and LSD were the known used drugs at that time. In the last 25-30 years there has been an explosion of the other used drugs, heroin and other opioids in many other countries that have benefited with economic growth in their respective economies, thanks to the global markets. With that also came trans shipment ports etc. and the social ills associated with drug abuse and misuse. One must always keep in mind that with the good comes the bad. That’s a fact of life. To state that one needs to eradicate the nest is literally to take a leaf from the Filipino president war on drugs – https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/09/07/philippine-president-rodrigo-dutertes-war-drugs. That’s not the solution beit in T&T or elsewhere.
I fiNd the headline misleading. Who control the economies. It is the business elites. Most tend to be conservative. The business do whatever it take to make a profit. They have been shut down plants and moving them to places where the labor cost is cheaper that the US. Is this guy saying these decision are done by liberal mindsets. I totally disagree. Walmart make most of their product overseas because it is cheaper. The owners of Walmart are no die hard liberals. Ford still going to open their small plant in Mexico. Allyuh think ford ceo is a liberal flake. Ask the Trumps where their products are made. Trump is a liberal?
As far as the drugs issue, is the chicken coming home to roost. Black American bore the brunt of the draconian laws introduced for crack. Why don’t they do the same for the opioid epidemic. Don’t hold your breath. Most are white. They bending over backwards to accommodate them.
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