(Photo: Geopolitical News / N. Azzariti).
by C. Alessandro Maceri –
The US president announced that he had included China in the list of drug transit and production countries. A list that already included countries that were overwhelmingly “American”: Afghanistan, Bahamas, Belize, Bolivia, Burma, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Jamaica, Laos , Mexico, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Panama, Peru and Venezuela.
A maneuver by the president who even requested the modification of the legislation to add the countries of origin of the chemical substances used to produce drugs. Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid responsible for a large portion of the country’s more than 109,000 overdose deaths in 2022, was added to the list.
The problem of drug use and abuse in the United States is nothing new. Especially in some cities. In 2019, the NYT published a report in which Philadelphia (and in particular the Kensington neighborhood) was defined as the “Walmart of heroin”, the drug supermarket. In the article titled “Trapped by the ‘Walmart of Heroin’” Jennifer Percy spoke of the Philadelphia neighborhood as “the largest open-air narcotics market for heroin on the East Coast. Drug addicts come from all over, many never leave.” Kensington also boasts one of the highest rates of homelessness in the country. There are hundreds of people living on the streets. “Philadelphia has the highest overdose rate of America’s 10 most populous counties, and the city’s health department estimates that 75,000 residents are addicted to heroin and other opioids.” Four years have passed. But no one seems to care what happens on the streets of Philadelphia (focused on producing and selling or giving away weapons to half the world). Kensington Avenue is one of the largest drug centers in North America: dozens of newspaper reports and government reports present it as a “zombieland” full of drug addicts with vacant eyes and evaporated souls. Dea called it “one of the largest drug centers in North America.”
For those who are used to imagining the USA as Californian beaches and beautiful girls in bikinis, the sight of this piece of America is terrible: the shop windows are headed by announcements of missing persons; on the street an army of drug dealers offers the “deadly goods”, in many cases “free samples” are even distributed. Everywhere is full of “zombies”, people who smoke crack from a glass pipe, or who consume methamphetamines or inject heroin or synthetic drugs. All outdoors, in broad daylight. Young people everywhere with needles in their arms, necks or between their toes.
Drugs, or rather “the” drugs, have made the history of this part of the USA. John Machen, told the Philadelphia Inquirer that he was one of the first: “The first heroin addicts like me appeared towards the end of 1968”. In the 1970s there was a boom in substances from the golden triangle of South-East Asia. Then came cocaine which, also thanks to an alliance between Colombians and African-American criminal groups, invaded the market. Then there was the “fad” for crack. Up to the present day where new devastating synthetic substances have appeared. John’s daughter Stephanie died at 25 from an overdose caused by a mix of heroin and fentanyl. Now xylazine is in fashion, a veterinary anesthetic (it is used to sedate large animals such as horses and deer), which in humans can cause drowsiness and amnesia and slow down breathing, heart rate and blood pressure to dangerously low levels, explains the National Institute on Drug Abuse (Nida). This is why it is called a “zombie” drug. When injected it induces a state of stupor that lasts for hours. The side effects are terrible: it cuts off circulation and causes skin wounds that, if left untreated, can lead to amputation. It is associated with skin ulcers, abscesses and related complications. As a sedative and not an opioid, it resists common overdose reversal treatments, such as naloxone which targets opioid abuse but not xylazine’s effects on breathing. The report submitted last year by the DEA This drug makes your skin crawl. Deaths, from 2015 to 2020, went from 2% to 26% in Pennsylvania; in 2021 in Maryland they affected 19% of cases and in 2020 in Connecticut 10%. The problem is that compared to other narcotic substances this drug is also cheap. This meant that it quickly spread throughout almost all of the USA: it is currently sold in at least 36 states across the country. Sometimes at a negligible cost: it starts from 6 dollars per kilogram online, according to the Dea. “We are experiencing the worst overdose crisis in U.S. history, currently driven primarily by the proliferation of fentanyl in the illicit drug market,” and “xylazine is a component of this tragic epidemic,” Nida director Nora told Newsweek Volkow.
The problem of drug use and abuse is much more worrying than the “xylazine” phenomenon. THE dati del National Center for Drug abuse statistics they are impressive. In the US, about half of people over the age of 12 have abused illicit drugs at least once in their lives. From 2000 to today, overdose deaths have been just under one million. Among Americans age 12 and older, 37,309 million are reported to be illegal drug users (used in the past 30 days), 13.5% of Americans age 12 and older, an increase of 3.8% per year . 138.543 million or 50.0% of people aged 12 years and older have used drugs illicitly in their lifetime. It’s still. 25.4% of illegal drug users have a drug-related illness. 24.7% of these have an opioid disorder.
The “drug” problem would primarily affect males and those living in cities (5% of people in rural nonmetropolitan counties used illegal drugs compared to 20.2% of people in metropolitan counties). Drug use is highest among people aged between 18 and 25 (39%). Slightly lower among those aged between 26 and 29 (34%). This does not mean that many do not become acquainted with drugs at a very young age. 47% of youth use illegal drugs before graduating from high school. And with serious consequences: 70% of users who try an illegal drug before the age of 13 develop a substance abuse disorder within the next 7 years compared to 27% of those who try an illegal drug after the age of 17.
The evolution of the phenomenon is frightening. The illegal or improper use of prescription opioids (almost 284,000 cases) concerns children under the age of 5 in 44% of cases. Of these, 5,300 cases were linked to heroin and fentanyl. Exposure of children under 5 to marijuana increased by 148% over a 7-year period. Prescription opioid use has increased 93% per year for the last 9 years!
Faced with these numbers, those relating to deaths from overdose are not surprising. In the USA, accidental drug overdose is a leading cause of death among people under the age of 45. Due to deaths from opioid overdoses, the average life expectancy in the United States has decreased (the only exception was 2019 when it increased by 0.16%).
There are over 70,000 drug overdose deaths in the United States each year. And this number is increasing at an annual rate of 4.0%. In 2017, there were at least 28,466 fentanyl-related deaths.
Even those who don’t die suffer permanent damage. 3.8% of adults over age 18 have both a substance use disorder (SUD) and an illness related to other substances. SUDs affect more than 20 million Americans ages 12 and older. Major depressive episodes (MDEs) affect 3.5 million adolescents and 4.6 million young adults. At least 51.5 million (20.6%) of adults over the age of 18 have a mental illness. Which for 13.1 million is a “serious” mental illness.
Numbers that give a different image of the US “promised land”. And above all, they make the Biden administration’s persistence in playing war around the world instead of thinking about internal problems even more incomprehensible.