A dangerous fabrication...
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 help perpetuate a human-rights abuse known as the '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 by 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. The drug type of concern is central nervous system depresssants such as alcohol, benzodiazepines and anti-depressants, and other drugs capable of causing sedation, such as 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. Absolutely no evidence exists to suggest a situation of people 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 typically 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 purposefully and incorrectly represented as being solely due to opioids.
The statistics instantly indicate the fraudulent nature of the strategy. The U.S. Center for Disease Control quotes figures of 13 deaths per 100,000 head of population with involvement of any type of opioid drug. (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 death rate for tobacco smoking in the U.S. is 149 per 100,000 head of total population. Smoking accounts for about 20% of all deaths. If there ever 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 creates the perception amongst the populace of a threat to survival, specifically, the use of opioids. This in turn bestows an apparent moral obligation on authorities to counter the 'threat'. These measures result in opioid users being pursued and imprisoned for use of a drug of choice and the existence of a black market for opioids: two situations that are highly profitable for their respective benficiaries.
The defining double standard is that these measures are not applied to the users or suppliers of alcohol, tobacco or caffeine even though two of these drugs are extremely dangerous. The 'opioid crisis' is effectively a reinvigoration of the ogre of fatal 'heroin overdose' as a scaremongering tactic.
It assists in keeping opioid users as an oppressed minority purely due to their association with a drug falsely portrayed as being uniquely dangerous. Their use of a drug of choice steadfastly remains a criminal act and they must obtain it from the black market.
Most importantly for authorities, it protects and perpetuates the black market in opioids, which constitutes a world-wide economy of massive proportions.
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 pure supply of their drug of choice is futher hindered by authorities, whose aim is to obligate them in aquiring their drug from a highly profitable black market.
Is there an 'opioid' or 'opioid overdose' crisis? No, not at all. There is a situation of a small number of people who for whatever reason, 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 due to overdoses of opioid 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 obvious 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. Firstly, these are the drugs for which authorities wish to have a black market in place. Secondly, these are the drugs whose users authorites wish to have 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. CDC/NCHS, National vital Statistics System, Mortality. CDC Wonder, Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services, CDC; 2017. https://wonder.cdc.gov/.