During a press conference at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s Chicago office, agent Tim Ogden stated, without apparent irony, that the current threat of Fentanyl-laced heroin, which has been responsible for 150-300 deaths throughout the upper Midwest and the Northeast, was “the biggest threat I have seen in almost 30 years of law enforcement experience.”
To say that this statement is a bit hyperbolic is putting it mildly. Especially since the “victims,” as the news refers to them, are all willing participants who are generally mindful of most of the risks involved with cooking up and injecting a substance like heroin intravenously.
They are aware of the risk of contracting hepatitis or HIV. They know that if the mixture is just a decimal point off, they will be receiving intervention in the form of a code blue and electric shocks. They are aware of these things.
However, for proof that America’s long-fought “war on drugs” has settled into a cease fire, both government officials and addicts alike are calling for the distributors and primary suppliers of the Fentanyl-laced heroin to be captured, prosecuted and permanently taken off the street?”I suppose for the purposes of allowing addicts worldwide to indulge relatively unhindered in unlaced heroin.
This is losing sight of two key issues:
1) The last time I checked, heroin abuse was a felony.
2) Heroin addicts have never been known for their thorough regard for the risk of over-indulgence, as was pointed out by Chicago-area addict 59-year-old Don Howard, quoted in The Defender recently: “Some addicts are frightened, but others simply aren’t,” he said when asked about how some of his associates who are addicts are responding to the warning of fentanyl-poisoned drugs.
“Suicidal behavior comes from being an addict,” 58-year-old recovering addict Francois Seets of Chicago said in the article. “They think they are immortal.” In fact, many users, when told of the various locations where the poisoned drugs had been confiscated by authorities, many users went to those locations anyway to try to obtain the heroin at bargain prices. This makes one wonder if the valiant effort by the police force to get this substance off the street (so far in Chicago one West Side gang member has been arrested for distribution of the substance) will ultimately be in vein.
Ultimately, the effort to make the streets safe again for addicts is losing sight of the real victims of addiction: the families of the addicts. My guess is they would much rather see these dozens of hours of police work to capture the distributors of fentanyl (which has been discovered in at least five different cities, including Detroit, Philadelphia and Chicago) put to the use of making heroin obsolete by giving their loved ones interventions instead.
If I’m a kleptomaniac, are you doing me favors by telling me you have a safe behind the living room painting above the fireplace and you keep a spare key under the “Welcome” mat outside?
Have we just given up on these people, realized that they will not help themselves and therefore just waved the white flag on assisting with their recovery? I’m sorry, agent Ogden, but if this is the greatest threat you have seen, then apparently you haven’t been checking the statistics of your own DEA office which report that heroin use has reached alarming levels in Chicago with more heroin-related emergency department mentions in Chicago during the last two years than in any other U.S. city.
I think the real crime is not doing enough to get these people the help they need in the first place. Sure, not everyone will receive assistance and even others will severely withdraw, but once the threat of Fentanyl poisoning is gone (which may take a while considering the rapid spread of the outbreak) will the addicts have any more motivation to seek help?