A dangerous fabrication...
An opioid overdose crisis? No, a deception on a grand scale.
In the U.S. and in countries politically influenced by it, authorities are proclaiming the existence of an 'opioid overdose crisis' or an 'opioid crisis'. However, as with all things related to policy concerning drugs other than alcohol, tobacco and caffeine, it is pure fabrication designed to justify and enhance the so-called 'War on Drugs'. Following is an explanation of the phenomenon.
The message from authorities is clear: an 'opioid overdose crisis'. The clear and intentional message is that people are dying due to simply taking 'too much' opioid and apparently all-too frequently, an opioid prescription pain medication. These deaths are allegedly due to the effects of excessive amounts of the opioid drug on breathing. However, this is not the case, has never been the case and never will be the case.
Firstly, as detailed in the 'Heroin' page of this site, opioids, in significant overdose, do not reach levels in the body that are greater than those found in living people receiving treatment for pain. This is due to the efficiency with which opioids are metabolised, or broken down in the body.
Toxicological examination consistently shows very low levels of opioids present in deaths where opioids have been present. In respect to people who have died having only opioids in their blood, the levels will typically also be no higher than those found in living people.
Secondly, in the vast majority of deaths in which opioids were present, drugs other than opioids have also been present. Other central nervous system depresssant drugs can present a danger to breathing in combination with opioids. Such drugs include alcohol, benzodiazepines and cannabis etc., and other drugs capable of causing sedation, such as anti-depressants and anti-histamines.
The 'opioid crisis': an aggressively promoted hoax. Image: Bciccocioppo
An apparent situation of people succumbing to 'overdoses' of opioids is being alleged, when clearly, this is not what is happening. No evidence exists to support the assertion that people are dying due to taking 'too much' of an opioid drug, be that an 'illicit' substance or a medication. If the situation were to be properly described, it would be as multiple-drug toxicity deaths in which opioids are present.
The crucial factor in deaths in which opioids are present and which is explained in the 'Overdose' page of this site, is not the ingestion of 'too much' opioid. It is a combination of substances leading to heavy sedation, airway obstruction and asphyxiation. Following is an example of how the true circumstances of the deaths is sometimes touched upon in official literature:
"In addition, available data suggest approximately 76% of accidental apparent opioid-related deaths between January 2016 and March 2018 (Footnote b) also involved one or more types of non-opioid substances." (1)
Statistics have consistently shown that alcohol and benzodiazepines are the drugs most commonly associated with mixed-drug deaths and adverse events in combination with opioids. In the context of the 'opioid crisis', even though multiple classes of central nervous system depressant drugs are present in the vast majority of incidents, the deaths are being intentionally misrepresented as being solely due to opioids.
The statistics instantly indicate the fraudulent nature of the so-called 'crisis'. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention quotes figures of 13.1 deaths per 100,000 head of population with involvement of any type of opioid drug in 2016. (2) Put simply, this is 13 thousandths of one per cent of the total population dying predominately as a result of combining drugs. Obviously, this is not an 'epidemic'.
To put this in perspective, the figures for cigarette smoking in the U.S. are "... more than 480,000 deaths per year ...", which equates to "... about one in five deaths annually, or 1,300 deaths every day." It is the "... leading cause of preventable death." (3) The death rate for smoking is about 169 per 100,000 head of population per annum. If ever there was a drug worthy of having the title 'epidemic' in terms of death and disease, tobacco is that drug.
What does the strategy achieve for those seeking to perpetuate the 'War on Drugs'? It achieves several important objectives:
It protects and perpetuates the black market in unregulated opioids, which constitutes a world-wide economy of massive proportions. Measures are implemented such as restrictions on prescribing, which make it less likely that medical opioids are diverted to 'recreational users'. Opioid users are therefore less able to aquire a substance who's quality is known, and they must purchase from the unregulated black market.
Ironically, it presents a huge commercial opportunity for pharmaceutical companies involved in the supply of Naloxone. Naloxone blocks the effects of opioids and is portrayed as the panacea to opioid 'overdose'. It can remove the opioid component of dangerous sedation brought about by combinations of central nervous system depressant drugs. It is of no use to a solitary person who is rendered unconcious by multiple-drug induced sedation.
It creates the perception amongst the populace of a threat to survival, specifically, the use of opioids. Many people will mistakenly accept that the threat is legitimate, merely because it is government inspired. This ensures public support for the strategy and more broadly, reinforced justification for the so-called 'War on Drugs'. A fundamental part of this is increased allocation of public money. Recipients of this money are many and diverse, from enforcement agencies to 'treatment' and community organisations.
It assists in keeping opioid users as an oppressed minority due to their drug of choice being incorrectly portrayed as being uniquely dangerous. Possession of their drug of choice steadfastly remains a criminal act and they must obtain it from the black market.
What are the effects of the strategy on people who for whatever reason, consume opioids? For people that rely on opioids for treament of pain, the strategy has serious negative ramifications. Opioids and specifically morphine, are the 'gold standard' for the treatment of chronic serious pain. Doctors however, are actively discouraged by authorities from prescribing opioids, leaving many patients untreated or under-treated for serious pain.
This has obvious and sometimes catastrophic effects for their wellbeing. The ultimate perversity is that some of these people may be forced to obtain their medication from the black market, making them vulnerable to criminal sanctions, which can further negatively affect their lives.
For those who consume opioids on a 'recreational' basis, their desire to obtain a supply of their drug of choice of known quality, is futher hindered by authorities, whose aim is to obligate them in aquiring their drug from a highly profitable black market in non-regulated opioids.
Is there an 'opioid' or 'opioid overdose' crisis? No, not at all. There is a situation of a relatively small number of people who are combining drugs and dying predominately from a series of events comprising heavy sedation, airway obstruction and asphyxiation. The very few that are dying not having combined drugs, will have opioid blood levels in the range found in living people. The allegation that there are people dying soley due to overdoses of opioids is a complete fabrication and no evidence exists to justify the claim.
Many of those succumbing to drug combinations would have been unaware of the dangers due to the emphasis being on the fallacy of fatal 'opioid overdose'. The continued untrue assertion that people are dying due to taking 'too much' opioid has the effect of the actual hazard (drug combinations) not being adequately publicised, therefore leading to many more preventable deaths.
Perhaps the most salient observation is that there is never a 'crisis' or 'national emergency' relating to any of the truly dangerous drugs in society, alcohol and tobacco, or caffeine. There are only ever 'crises' or 'emergency' situations declared concerning the drugs of a minority or in other words, 'controlled' substances. These are the drugs for which authorities wish to have a black market in place and their users subject to criminal sanctions.
1. Special Advisory Committee on the Epidemic of Opioid Overdoses. National report: Apparent opioid-related deaths in Canada (January 2016 to March 2018). Web-based Report. Ottawa: Public Health Agency of Canada; September 2018.
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Drug Overdoses. Web Page. 2019. https:// www. cdc. gov/ nchs/ fastats/ drug- overdoses. htm
3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smoking and Tobacco Use, Fast Facts. Web Page. 2019. https:// www. cdc. gov/ tobacco/ data_ statistics/ fact_ sheets/ fast_ facts/ index. htm
Page head image: National Opioid Crisis Community Summit, Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD - December 11, 2018 (U.S. Army Photo by Sean Kief)