What the federal government isn’t telling you about the “opioid crisis”

This article was originally published on NationalPainReport.com. It is being republished here with permission from the editor. 

What the federal government isn't telling you about the "opioid" crisis | Fed Up with Fatigue

The U.S. government loves to play the blame game. According to officials, the rise in the use of heroin and the increase in deaths due to drug overdoses are the direct result of the so-called “opioid crisis.” A few days ago, President Donald Trump announced the problem has become so great that it’s a “national emergency.”

The irony of this is that while the government keeps pressuring physicians to stop prescribing opioids for chronic pain, they are concurrently turning a blind eye to the ever-growing poppy industry in Afghanistan that has flooded American streets with heroin in recent years.

No, this isn’t some conspiracy theory, and no, it’s not fake news. Our government’s complacency (or its intentional participation, depending on who you ask) in the heroin trade has been documented by numerous sources in both the mainstream and alternative media. In fact, our military even guards the poppy fields. Don’t believe it? Then watch this video and this one (warning: explicit language).

A May 2012 article from the New York Times (NYT) reads, “In the Zhare district of Kandahar Province, ground zero for the Obama administration’s troop surge in 2010, poppy was everywhere as the harvest approached this year. It encircled the American and Afghan army outposts that dot the landscape. It grew knee-high in fields owned by members of village militias raised by American forces to fight off the Taliban.”

In this same article, the NYT reports how Zhare’s governor pleaded with military forces to take a more active role in destroying poppy crops.

Their response?

“’Going after it, it just pokes the beehive,’ said Maj. Gen. James L. Huggins Jr., the commander of NATO forces in southern Afghanistan. The United States and its allies prefer to focus on interdiction at the trafficking stage of the trade,” read the NYT article.

Well, if that’s indeed true, they are failing miserably – but more on that later! First, a little history…

Afghanistan’s poppy production accounts for more than 90 percent of all heroin worldwide, according to National Public Radio. The casual reader probably blames the Taliban for Afghanistan’s biggest cash crop, but the truth is much darker and more complicated. The U.S. occupation of Afghanistan has directly led to a surge in poppy production, and subsequently, to a rise in heroin addiction and deaths.

Statistics from the United Nations backs this up: In 2000, prior to the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, the Taliban banned poppy cultivation. They were so successful at decimating the poppy crop, in fact, that production dropped from 202,000 acres in 2000 to 19,000 acres the following year – a 90 percent decrease!

The U.S. military invaded Afghanistan in fall 2001 following the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. By the end of 2002, poppy production rebounded to 182,000 acres, and is now more than double that. Last year, the United Nations reported more than 496,000 acres were cultivated – all while U.S. forces continue to occupy Afghanistan. How is that possible? And why is it being allowed to happen?

During this same time frame, from 2001 to 2016, heroin abuse in the United States has doubled. Is that a coincidence? Can you really blame opioids when our own government has at best purposely tried to ignore poppy production in Afghanistan, and at worse, actually participated in it?

And yet, our federal officials continue to blame opioids for this “epidemic” of drug overdoses. Well, I call BS. It is the highest level of hypocrisy to demonize legal prescription drugs and the people who use them responsibly while at the same time supporting the illegal drug trade that’s fueling the “crisis” in the first place.

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  1. Jean Price says

    Sadly, none of what’s happening now regarding the use of opioids to treat pain started with or has relied on making any sense whatsoever, in my opinion!! Not medical or scientific sense, not legal or constitutional sense, and definitely not common sense or statistical sense (if there even is such a thing!)!! Instead it started with greed…and relies on hype and sensationism…and lots of tax dollars initially for a huge advertising blitz campaign!! And it has basically snowballed now to include most medical professionals, society at large, and even congressmen and women…regardless of whether they have any medical background or knowledge about treating long term or acute pain!

    So if it’s not about “making any sense”…we certainly can’t fight this with sense either! Our facts and truths mean next to nothing to those who promoted this faked epidemic or to those who continue to support it out of either polictics or their own greed and what they can gain, or fear…like we see with our physicians!

    So how do we make an impact? Money speaks…as in winning lawsuits…perhaps that’s one way to make a stand! Our own advertising blitz might help a little…although how to fund this is a big problem…especially when our advocacy groups are so fragmented they can’t seem to band together in a coalition to even increase their power, let alone their financial strength! Taking it to the public might help, IF any media sources would pick up ALL of our stories…instead of the sensationalized and incorrect or slanted articles they promote now! Having a nationally known celebrity spokesperson moght really help…yet who among those eligible would risk supporting us when we are mostly seen as drug seekers!?

    I am at a loss to come up with one thing that I feel would truly make a difference here! Well, that is…except prayer! And I believe prayer always makes a difference! So every night around 8pm, I pray for the hearts and minds of those who have caused this and those who are promoting this to be opened, and clearly see what this has done to people who live with daily pain! And then make amends swiftly and ethically, so pain care can be real care again…and not just policing and pill counts!! I’d invite anyone who also wants to do this to join in….and make our prayers more numberous and in agreement!!

    • Maureen says

      Hi Jean, I just read your post (8:13pm) and prayed along with you. As you know,I always strongly agree with all that you write 🙂

  2. Regina says

    Hi, I just wanted to tell you that I am so glad you wrote the article about what the government is t telling you a out the opioid crisis.so many times I have seen articles about the opioid problem and it always points to the doctors and pain patients and rarely speaks of the heroin epidemic. They also imply that all these overdoses are caused by medications given to pain patients and don’t ever separate the truth to the general public. I would love to see an article written where its separated From chronic Pain patients and illegal use of medications and heroin. Be nice to have those statistics. Again thank you for the article.

  3. I wrote a letter to President Trumph and suggest you do the same as a responsible opioid user. I go to a pain clinic and have never abused my medications (been on them for 8 years now) I would have ZERO quality of life without my medications and also use every other pain relieving method to cope with my pain besides my meds. We should NOT be punished for needing these medications and should they should available to us. If we stand together and voice ourselves we have a better chance of being heard to I urge you to voice your opinion. Go to whitehouse.gov or just type in write the president…you can send an email as I did voicing your concerns.

  4. JULIE ANNA Kolankowski says

    does trump have chronic pain no! leave us alone! hit by drunk driver left for dead. have platybasia, chiari malformation, fibromyalgia. he has no idea what that does to the brain, gray matter disappears when pain vanishes comes back. 50 million have chronic pain.

  5. I have taken tramadol for many, many years. In that time I have been able to wean myself from using 8 tablets a day to only taking 6 tablets. I have been at the 6 tabs a day for probably a decade. In all the time I have been on tramadol, my intake did not increase. Now, because of the attack on prescribing of such meds, my doctor is only able to prescribe 4 tabs a day. While tramadol did not remove ALL my pain, it brings it down enough that I can function. Unfortunately I cannot afford to go see a pain specialist for any alternative relief. I AM NOT AN ADDICT. I am dependent upon the tramadol to help ease the pain EXACTLY as I am dependent upon metformin to keep my blood sugar under control. Let’s hear it for the government AGAIN throwing out the baby with the bath water and leaving those who really need the help given by such medicines without them.

    • Cindy Cirlincione says

      I agree Sarah, I wrote him too, but he probably never read it. If some of us didn’t use some pain meds, we would have committed suicide or would have had no life whatsoever. Do we want to be on pain meds no, but along with alternative modalities and balance, it helps.
      I agree Nancy, I too have never abused my medication, it just helps me to function.

  6. Colleen says

    I just wanted to say that all of this was happening when Obama was president and I don’t doubt this at all.
    Thanks for sharing this article.

  7. Vicky Evans says

    I am a retired Firefighter/Paramedic. I did it for 20 years in a midsize rural agriculture based city in the west. Our running area was huge. We had transport times up to 2+ hours. In 20 years I responded to many overdoses & drug related calls. Both legal & illegal drugs. The most common drug related calls we went on by a huge margin were for prescription pain medication. Drug seekers, addiction & withdrawal issues, injuries to both the user & others caused by improper use of prescription drugs, overdoses, attempted overdoses, family abuse, I could go on forever. I agree that there are people with a legitimate need for pain medication, we rarely saw those. There is a much bigger group of people that want the medication for reasons other than legitimate severe pain not treatable by any other means. Many doctors hand it out like candy on Halloween. It makes it easier for them to treat patients who refuse other options for treatment. There are many patients that think that it is the best choice to help them deal with their lives because they can’t go to jail for using it. It absolutely needs to be better regulated. Medical caregivers need to be held accountable for what they prescribe. Other options need to be explored for pain treatment besides opioids. Finally, regardless of what the government is or isn’t doing people need to be responsible for their own behavior. Taking a pill or shot or putting on a patch is a personal choice. No-one is forcing people to become addicts. Absolutely some people have a greater propensity to addiction. That doesn’t relieve them of responsibility for their choices & actions. There is a lot of work being done in the mental health research community on causes for addiction other than weakness or lack of willpower that shows great promise for understanding & treating addiction. But it always takes work & many people just don’t want to quit no matter how much help they are given. Obviously this is a multifaceted issue that can’t be fixed easily. The bottom line is that people with legitimate pain issues are not the only factor in this. Addiction issues in our country have changed the way we all have to do things. Try getting Paragoric for diarrhea. Try getting cold medication with pseudoephedrine in it. That list goes on & on too. We are all being affected by other people’s choices. I absolutely think that our government has ulterior motives for most of what it does. Regardless we all have to keep going & do the best we can. Thinking that the Fibromyalgia community is being targeted unfairly by a corrupt & dishonest government is like a little kid whining because he can’t get a candy bar at the store because his sister is diabetic & she can’t have one so he can’t have one either. Everything isn’t all about him. Just to let you know, I have fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, severe back issues including surgeries, permanent nerve damage & chronic pain from lifting patients for 20 years. Chronic shoulder & knee pain even after surgeries, depression, anxiety, PTSD from all the crap I saw & had to do in 20 years, asthma, insulin resistance, reflux, & weight issues from eating too much. I guess food is my drug of choice. I am in constant pain from any or all of this. I am a physical train wreck but I refuse to be a chronic pain medication user, whether legal or illegal. This doesn’t make me better than anyone else. I am just doing the best I can as responsibly as I can just like everybody else is.

    • Maureen says

      Vicky, BRAVO! Very well written! I am alongside you with your chronic pain issues, history of many surgeries etc after 32 yrs of nursing. The difference is that when I was initially put on opioids after my 2nd spine surgery many years ago… I was truly ignorant. Fast forward and 4 total spine surgeries I remain on them and wish I had known better. I’m not an addict but my body is dependent on them by now. I want off but fear the withdrawal (of which I have suffered once) and the horrid pain I will suffer. I know it would take a long long time to balance out and would need a ton of in-person support, of which I have none.
      Keep strong warrior and Thank you and God bless you for being out in the fields for some many years!

  8. Ann Minch says

    This is all absolutely correct, and something us “conspiracy nuts” have known for years. Thanks for having the guts to put it out there!

  9. Jay, a Vet says

    Gee, anyone heard of Air America, CIA, and the Golden Triangle.
    It will never end until Jesus returns

    • Vicky Evans says

      Thanks for your service Jay. I agree with you, people need to learn a little about history. If it’s an in demand money crop someone is going to be making money off of it. Always have & always will.

  10. This is new information to me. It’s very interesting. Thank you for this.

    I’d long heard that our government was involved in the illegal drug trade. What I didn’t realize was that it stretched to opioids.

    This makes me think that, like a magician, they’re trying to distract you so that you can’t see the truth.

    Thank you for the information!

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