Regarding the Sept. 19 news article “US attorneys focus on prescription opioid and heroin abuse”: I am weary of articles blaming the opium (opioids/opiates) epidemic on our physicians. When opium products became rampant on our streets again, officials had difficulty explaining this epidemic to the public. Our government faced similar problems in the 1960s when our military troops were sent to Vietnam and the Golden (opium) Triangle.
Let’s follow the money trail. According to the United Nations, almost two-thirds of illegal street opium is cultivated in Afghanistan, but not processed there. Most opium is processed into pills, powders, patches and heroin in factories in other foreign countries. The vast majority of opium products sold on the streets is not processed in U.S. factories, not at any time ordered by our physicians or dispensed by our pharmacies. According to the U.N., most opium products used illegally in the U.S. are believed to be processed in Mexican and other factories in Central and Latin America. It is estimated the illegal opium trade is a $69 billion to $79 billion a year business.
While some bad apples exist, U.S. physicians didn’t start and don’t maintain the illegal opium epidemic, so stop the scapegoating. There is a better question. Why are we still in Afghanistan?