Beth Macy’s Raising Lazarus is the latest book on the overdose crisis. Unfortunately, this insightful journalist who wrote Dopesick, made into a series on Hulu, is a harm reductionist who doesn’t put too much stock in primary drug prevention.
Drug policy should have three prongs: Prevention, Recovery and Harm Reduction.
Instead of tirelessly stating “Let’s stop stigmatizing addiction,” why can’t we say, “Let’s celebrate recovery”?
We need to incentivize recovery.
The drug epidemic has been running for more than 20 years now, and today the primary driver is fentanyl, an opioid sold on the black market. An estimated 107,000 died of overdose last year. Why is it only getting worse? Perhaps it’s because we’re addressing the problem with harm reduction only and not spending much money on drug prevention. In the case of fentanyl, youths are going right from marijuana use to buying pills that are laced with fentanyl and dying immediately. In pot legalization states out west, it currently is happening to those as young as 13 and 14.
Macy’s view of marijuana is a blindspot
Macy scorns Nancy Reagan and her “cabal of marijuana-hating moms” on p. 77. But does she realize that the parents movement of 1979-1992 brought down drugs use from 39% of all teens to 14%? The parent movement, which included black activists, was an exceptional achievement. We could do the same now, if only harm reduction were not the primary leg of drug policy. Continue reading Raising Lazarus Describes Continuing Overdose Crisis
The normalization and continued promotion of drug use kills people, harms individuals and harms society. The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) turned people against the “War on Drugs,” a term the government stop using in 2009. The DPA aims for legalizing all drugs, but now uses the term “decriminalization,” disguising their true goals.
DPA wishes to protect drug dealers so that they may never be charged with homicide if a person dies. A press release of November 2017, staked out DPA’s position against drug-induced homicide laws, claiming that “An Overdose Death is not Murder.”
For parents, whose children died after buying pills through dealers, friends or acquaintances, it’s a bitter pill to swallow: the DPA claims their children were already drug users, and no one should be held responsible for death.
Continue reading Drug Policy Alliance should have no influence over policy
In response to the four states that passed ballots to legalize marijuana, we send our condolences to residents of those states. It’s not a good, science-based policy, or a good economic one. We won’t stop doing what we do, supporting families who lost or are losing loved ones to this drug. Marijuana is the starter drug for our addiction crisis, a foundation drug and often the first relapse drug for those who struggle with addiction.
We’re sad because the public have lost special protective factors for public health and safety. Keeping drugs illegal is a vital harm reduction policy. With more marijuana use comes more loss of life from addiction, mental illness and car crashes. It also brings work place incidents, psychotic behaviors, violence related to drug dealing and deaths from child abuse or neglect. Continue reading Response to legalization in four states
The growth of the Drug Policy Alliance’s influence and emphasis contributes to the staggering increase in overdose deaths. * DPA gets political mileage from using the term “war on drugs,” and turning it into a negative term. However, the USA officially abandoned the term eight years ago, and then the death rate began to rise.
Drug Policy Alliance recently put out a paper on decriminalizing all drugs, a first step towards legalization of all drugs. This group often talks about Portugal as an example which is misleading, because Portugal never legalized drugs. Portugal decriminalized drugs while providing assessments and treatment. Continue reading Drug Policy Alliance Pushes Legalization of all Drugs