The Argument for Legalizing Heroin?

Deaths caused by opioid- and heroin-related overdoses totalled more than 28,000 in 2014. President Obama has decided to respond to this public health crisis by calling for an allocation of $1.1 billion in funding to help those who struggle with opioid and heroin addiction.

1. Opioid Prescriptions Have Skyrocketed

Prescriptions for opioid painkillers increased more than 200% between 1991 and 2013.

2. Prescription Narcotics Are a Gateway Drug

Once someone is addicted to narcotics, it is not a far leap to using heroin, which is much cheaper. One 30mg tablet of oxycodone can cost around $50, while a bag of heroin can be found for around $5. 

3. Face of Addiction Is Changing

The number of white Americans using heroin has skyrocketed 114% in the past ten years. The demographics of middle-class Americans, women, and 18- to 25-year olds have also seen a sharp increase in the number of heroin users.

These drastic changes have changed the conversation about the “War on Drugs”. In the past, when addiction disproportionately affected minorities, especially Black men, the laws and conversations around addiction and drug use emphasized a zero-tolerance policy as well as very long prison sentences. Now the conversation is shifting to the idea of “compassionate” care towards those afflicted with addiction to narcotics.

4. The War On Drugs Makes Drug Use More Dangerous

The people that turn to heroin because they are addicted to prescription opioid painkillers are getting their heroin from street dealers. Street drugs, cut with dangerous and unknown substances, are much more dangerous that obtaining prescription drugs through a pharmacy. Just like the United States learned from Prohibition 100 years ago, criminalizing drugs does not make people less likely to use them, but it does make it more dangerous. This is why we use education at Prevention Plus. We have found that this has been very effective with the students we work with. 

5. There is going to be a push to Legalize Heroin

It is amazing how quickly our mindset has changed when it comes to Marijuana. Marijuana is already legal in four states and decriminalized in 14 more and nine of out ten Americans believe that marijuana should be legalized. I’m hoping that the pro drug use people face a much harder time getting heroin to become main stream like marijuana.  

For more information, read the statistics on overdose death rates and two articles discussing heroin addiction, and legalization.