(NaturalNews) Is the suggestion that the so-called "War on Drugs," begun in the early 1980s, has turned out to be a complete failure? Not really, when you consider the connection between Big Pharma and the illicit drug trade.
What? You didn't know there even was a connection? Well, there is, and if anything, maybe it could even be said that current Big Pharma and other accepted medical practices have worsened the illicit drug industry.
It stems from a concerted effort within the medical community to curb abuse of the powerful painkiller Oxycontin. While that effort looks like it is succeeding, what it mostly succeeding in doing is pushing former users to an equally powerful, though illegal, replacement: Heroin.
The formula of Oxycontin has been changed to prevent its abuse by crushing and snorting it, or by dissolving it in water and injecting it. That said, there hasn't been much progress in dealing with patients who become opioid-addicts.
Consider what one scientist, Dr. Theodore J. Cicero, vice chair of research at Washington University's department of psychiatry in St. Louis, has to say about the subject.
"We're now seeing reports from across the country of large quantities of heroin appearing in rural and suburban areas," he said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. "Unable to use OxyContin easily, which was a very popular drug in rural and suburban areas, drug abusers who prefer snorting or IV drug administration now have shifted to more potent opioids if they can find them, or to heroin.
Two-thirds reverted to heroin - Hurray for the war on drugs
Cicero and another researcher from Washington University, along with a third from Nova Southeastern University in Coral Gables, Fla., surveyed 2,566 people between July 2010 and March 31, 2012, who had sought treatment for abuse of, or dependence on, opioid drugs. The goal of the research was to see how their habits had changed.
The team also interviewed 103 of those who anonymously filled out surveys, to extrapolate their findings. The surveys came from 150 different treatment centers in 39 states.
The team found that the reformation of the Oxycontin formula had worked, to a point. Some two years after the new formula was introduced and the old formula discarded, only 12.8 percent of the survey sample said Oxycontin was their drug of choice, down from 35.6 percent at the start of the research cycle.
Among the smaller group, 24 percent of those seeking treatment reported finding a way around the measures aimed at reducing abuse of Oxycontin.
Perhaps the most alarming finding; though, was that 66 percent of the sample population said they had moved on from OxyContin to a new drug, the most common of which was heroin. In fact, the number of those reporting having taken heroin in the previous 30 days doubled.
Easily available + Cheap = Abuse
"Most people that I know don't use OxyContin to get high anymore," one of the interviewees told the research team. "They have moved on to heroin [because] it is easier to use, much cheaper, and easily available."
Easily available. Enter the "War on Drugs is a failure" line here.
"The most amazing thing was how quickly [OxyContin use] dropped because they weren't able to extract the drug anymore," Cicero told Reuters. "They switched to drugs that were potentially more harmful to them."
Don't forget easily available.
Deni Carise, chief clinical officer at Phoenix House and an addiction research and policy expert, echoed Cicero's findings. In an interview with HealthPop, she said she had seen an increase in who began to abuse heroin within six months of the first time they used a prescription opiate.
She said part of the reason why they switched was because their supply of OxyContin had run out and heroin was just easier and cheaper to get. She went onto say that once a teen begins experimenting with drugs, they are much more open to trying something new.
So much for another so-called "war on" something that hasn't worked out so well for We the People.