Pubdate: Tue, 13 Jun 2006
Source: Chicago Tribune (IL)
Copyright: 2006 Chicago Tribune Company
Author: Stephen Young


This is regarding "Deadly heroin mix tightens grip on city; Across
Chicago, police and hospitals are racing to curb a surge in fatal
overdoses, many of them linked to a potent blend of the drug and a
powerful painkiller" (Page 1, June 8). How many thousands of words are
going to be printed in the Tribune about overdose deaths from heroin
before someone finally dares to type out the one word at the root of
the whole problem?

The word is "prohibition."

Instead we get headlines like this one, which makes it sound like
inanimate powder is making decisions for society.

In reality the problems are caused by market forces.

Prohibition makes drug sales remarkably lucrative, making dealers
ruthless and often violent.

Prohibition encourages drug sellers to push the most potent form of a
drug and to attempt to open markets with novel products (even if those
products are quite dangerous).

A total lack of regulation means buyers never know exactly what they
are getting.

Because they are breaking the law to feed their habits, many users
avoid interactions with authorities, including doctors and other
health-care workers; they may even be afraid to call an ambulance when
they see fellow users overdosing.

The rising body count we see around the country is the fruit of
prohibitionist labors, as was the spike in deaths due to tainted
liquor during alcohol prohibition.

There are other ways to deal with heroin. A program in Switzerland
that distributed free heroin to addicts and gave them a place to use
it nearly stopped overdose deaths completely, while many participants
reduced their drug intake and some willingly entered treatment
programs to get clean.

U.S. officials like drug czar John Walters will protest that such
programs send the wrong message.

The message Walters wants to send is that drug use leads to misery and

Thanks to the policies of prohibition, it's a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Stephen Young
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake