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Donald Trump’s “War on Drugs” in America

Published on: May 7, 2018

Written by: Confirm BioSciences.

The opioid crisis is now common knowledge. Opiates exist en masse under thousands of different prescription brand names. Synthetic drugs like fentanyl are imported from overseas on a daily basis. The avenues for drug abuse are endless.

As long as the pharmaceutical industry exists, opioids will be a problem for some. A long-term solution is needed to address illicit drug use, for opioids and all other drugs.

What Are Opioids?

Opioids are a class of drugs which can either be naturally derived or synthetically manufactured. These drugs ease pain symptoms by binding to opioid receptors in the brain. The most commonly prescribed opioids for the treatment of chronic pain conditions include:

  • Morphine
  • Heroin
  • Codeine
  • Hydrocodone
  • Thebaine (Oxycodone)

Opiates, which are synthetically produced to mimic the effects of opioids, are especially dangerous if misused. Some of the most potent opiate varieties are:

  • Methadone
  • Dextropropoxyphene
  • Tramadol
  • Fentanyl

Where Do Opioids Come From?

Because of its potency, fentanyl can be cheaply produced at a low cost and still provide huge profit margins for illicit distributors. Fentanyl is much cheaper to obtain than prescription pharmaceuticals, encouraging patients to seek out contraband to be pain-free and frugal.

The most harmful opioids (namely fentanyl and its derivatives) are imported from foreign countries like China and the Philippines. Drug sales significantly contribute to the GDP of developing nations. For once, Trump’s aversion to international trade might actually have a positive outcome.

States like California, Florida, and Texas have experienced the greatest toll. Unemployment rates, healthcare expenses, and overdose fatalities are good reasons for the President to keep a firm stance on opioids.

History of Opioid Abuse in the United States

Opioid Use in the Eighties

Heroin plagued the United States in the 80’s, especially during the Vietnam War. Soldiers fighting abroad were exposed to opium poppies and jeopardizing their safety as a result. Thanks to the War on Drugs administration and the advancement of drug testing, heroin abuse is less of a concern.

Opioid Use in the Nineties

That’s not to rule out drug abuse altogether, though. Methamphetamine use soared in the 90’s, with the main abusers being teenagers and young adults. Methamphetamines were responsible for a string of overdose deaths in clubs and concerts throughout the decade.

Opioid Use in the New Millenium

Meth use is less common, but the substance is still easily obtained. Drug abuse in night venues remains a concern, and club drugs like ecstasy (MDMA), rohypnol, and fentanyl proliferate in the country.  

In 2016, The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) declared fentanyl a Schedule II substance. Technically, this means the drug poses less of a legal concern than marijuana, which is a Schedule I drug. So, how urgent can the opioid epidemic really be?

Opioid Crisis Statistics

It seems like we’re moving one step forward and two steps back. We need to catch our breath with some statistics. If you’re not totally sold on the impact of the opioid crisis, here are some figures to help you better understand the impact:

  • 91 people die each day in the United States because of prescription drug abuse

  • 6600 people become prescription drugs abusers each day in the United States

  • 1.5 billion prescription pills are projected to be manufactured in 2017, enough to fill thirty-nine Boeing 777s

Trump’s War on Drugs

Prescription drugs are literally available everywhere. But fentanyl, which is 50 times more potent than medical-grade morphine, needs to be controlled now.

If there’s ever been a time where Trump actually demonstrated public interest, it’s around the United States’ opioid epidemic. Donald Trump has expressed a plan to forge several lawsuits against national pharmaceutical manufacturers with the intent of laying more rigid regulations on prescription drug sales.

Trump’s plan goes as far as proposing the death penalty for drug dealers and “big pushers”. Depending on who you ask, this reactionary approach might seem totalitarian. Statistics show regions where a death penalty is enforced also display high murder rates, creating a problem in itself. Extreme measures may not be the solution, but one thing is certain: the President of America adamantly opposes drug abuse.

With the help of Senator Jeff Sessions, the Donald Trump Administration takes a firm stance against drug abuse. Federal outcry has ensued over mass importation and distribution of heroin, fentanyl, and opioid drugs. History is repeating itself in a fashion similar to the Nixon and Reagan eras.

Unfortunately for many foreign developing countries, use of the aforementioned drugs is accepted and hardly regulated. China is one of the biggest producers of fentanyl, and not surprisingly, the largest supplier to the United States.

According to Nielsen Data, almost 2000 pounds of fentanyl were seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection last year. In 2013, only 2 pounds were seized.

As if these figures weren’t enough:

Prescription opioid abuse is the Number #1 cause of workplace accidents leading to injuries. Nobody wants to pay high Workers’ Compensation Claims, let alone deal with a tragedy.

Drug abuse in the workplace is only one facet of the Rubix cube. The impact of the opioid epidemic is also felt in schools, inspiring fear from parents and teachers.

Trillions of pills are manufactured yearly, so it’s not hard for young people to find opioids. Common places where teenagers acquire drugs include:

  • Unguarded medicine cabinets at home
  • Directly from friends and family
  • Through drug traffickers and street dealers
  • The doctor

Are ALL Prescription Drugs Bad?

In spite of the epidemic, prescription drugs should not be demonized. There are many circumstances where opioids encourage desirable patient outcomes, especially in cases where pain, cancer, and chronic disease feel like an uphill battle.

Clinicians and medical directors should prescribe drugs vigilantly. Contraindication (prescribing multiple drugs at once) can create new addictions, or worse, fatal overdoses. Combination drug use is only necessary in a handful of cases.

The light at the end of the tunnel is innovation. Fentanyl urine drug test dip cards can instantly detect the presence of fentanyl metabolites in a person’s urine sample.

With the latest invention in oral fluid screening, fentanyl can also be traced using instant SalivaConfirm Premium Oral Fluid Devices.

Professionals can finally make informed decisions — whether that means designing a plan of care, conducting pre-employment testing, or screening children for drug abuse — now that they have the proper tools to fix the nation’s drug problem.