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Heroin addiction

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#1 glunn

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Posted 02 February 2014 - 08:47 PM

It is being reported that Philip Seymour Hoffman has died from an apparent heroin overdose.

I somehow thought thought that heroin use had become fairly rare, but based on the article linked above, it seems to be somewhat prevalent. I favor legalization of marijuana, but wonder about how best to reduce heroin usage.

#2 Bark's Lounge

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Posted 02 February 2014 - 09:48 PM

I am not so sure Heroin use has decreased very much in the last couple of decades. It might seem like it has because nobody well known has died from it in a while. If my memory serves me correctly, it was sort of glorified with the Alt music movement of the early-mid 1990's and a handful of musicians died in the 10 years that followed that movement.

Incarcerating a heroin addict is not a good or long term solution. I think the only thing you can really do is have the help available for them if they want it or if they can be convinced it is the only way to live another day and find some kind of fulfillment out of life. Other than that, I guess they go the way of the Dodo? If innocent bystanders are being put in danger because of addiction... that is a different story and other lawful courses of action can probably be taken or applied.

It is really too bad about Hoffman - he was one of the better actors of the last 20 years. I was stunned by the news. What a bummer and a shame.

#3 glunn

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Posted 02 February 2014 - 10:20 PM

I am not so sure Heroin use has decreased very much in the last couple of decades. It might seem like it has because nobody well known has died from it in a while. If my memory serves me correctly, it was sort of glorified with the Alt music movement of the early-mid 1990's and a handful of musicians died in the 10 years that followed that movement.

Incarcerating a heroin addict is not a good or long term solution. I think the only thing you can really do is have the help available for them if they want it or if they can be convinced it is the only way to live another day and find some kind of fulfillment out of life. Other than that, I guess they go the way of the Dodo? If innocent bystanders are being put in danger because of addiction... that is a different story and other lawful courses of action can probably be taken or applied.

It is really too bad about Hoffman - he was one of the better actors of the last 20 years. I was stunned by the news. What a bummer and a shame.


The current approach seems to be a complete failure. According to the CNN article, heroin seems easy to procure.

It seems to me that the key to a solution may be to reduce the number of people who try heroin for the first time. It also seems to me that the best way to do that would be to reduce the number of dealers, and the best way to do that would be to create centers where addicts can get heroin at a low cost. Apparently, this is happening in Switzerland.

I would like to see fewer people trying heroin for the first time. Better education about the dangers seems worthwhile, but so long as there are thousands of dealers, I am not optimistic about reducing heroin use. The dealers have a bog financial incentive to recruit new users, but if there were places where addicts could get free heroin, maybe the dealers would lose most or all financial incentives to push people to use.

#4 Bark's Lounge

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Posted 02 February 2014 - 10:36 PM

The current approach seems to be a complete failure. According to the CNN article, heroin seems easy to procure.

It seems to me that the key to a solution may be to reduce the number of people who try heroin for the first time. It also seems to me that the best way to do that would be to reduce the number of dealers, and the best way to do that would be to create centers where addicts can get heroin at a low cost. Apparently, this is happening in Switzerland.

I would like to see fewer people trying heroin for the first time. Better education about the dangers seems worthwhile, but so long as there are thousands of dealers, I am not optimistic about reducing heroin use. The dealers have a bog financial incentive to recruit new users, but if there were places where addicts could get free heroin, maybe the dealers would lose most or all financial incentives to push people to use.


What is the current approach? I don't believe there is one in the U.S.

In the current day United States, I have a hard time seeing this country implementing the drug addiction solutions of Western Europe... hell, although progress is being made, we have have a ways to climb to reach the summit of Marijuana Mountain.

Glunn, I agree with what you are saying. I just have a hard time seeing that being executed at this time and place in our country.

#5 mike wants wins

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Posted 02 February 2014 - 10:45 PM

Legalize, tax the bleep out of production and sale. That works for tobacco.
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#6 mikecgrimes

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Posted 03 February 2014 - 06:57 AM

It is being reported that Philip Seymour Hoffman has died from an apparent heroin overdose.

I somehow thought thought that heroin use had become fairly rare, but based on the article linked above, it seems to be somewhat prevalent. I favor legalization of marijuana, but wonder about how best to reduce heroin usage.


I've always heard that heroin deaths are usually from a bad batch of heroin. An addict and a drug that gives them the desired result will not be OD'd on unless its a suicide attempt. As for pot laws, I would agree with most of the arguments, but have people really had trouble with the law because of the drug itself? What makes the cops show up is more important then what charge they haul you off with.

#7 TheLeviathan

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Posted 03 February 2014 - 11:27 AM

Legalize, tax the bleep out of production and sale. That works for tobacco.


It took time, but it sure as hell as influenced how it's seen by the larger public. I tend to think this is the best way to go with basically any drug. Cut the dealers and their laced/tampered products out and tax the bejesus out of it so it becomes unfavorable to use.

#8 glunn

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Posted 03 February 2014 - 02:20 PM

This article suggests that the increase in heroin use is largely the result of the fact that it is cheaper than the synthetic opiates that people get addicted to. This suggests to me that high taxes might not be such a good idea, because there would still be a market for the cheap (and unregulated) version.

#9 mikecgrimes

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Posted 03 February 2014 - 03:31 PM

This article suggests that the increase in heroin use is largely the result of the fact that it is cheaper than the synthetic opiates that people get addicted to. This suggests to me that high taxes might not be such a good idea, because there would still be a market for the cheap (and unregulated) version.


If there is a way to avoid taxes drug addicts will never have any shame in doing so. We'll see in a few years what happens in Colorado, but I don't want no government drugs if they over regulate.

#10 ChiTownTwinsFan

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Posted 03 February 2014 - 06:54 PM

Here's another article. Interesting.

http://www.theatlant...shadows/283533/
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#11 glunn

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Posted 03 February 2014 - 07:34 PM

Here's another article. Interesting.

http://www.theatlant...shadows/283533/


Interesting article, ChiTown. This echoes the concern that Oxy users are converting to heroin in order to get the same high at a lower cost.

Last night I watched a National Geographic documentary about meth. I came away with the impression that meth is perhaps the most destructive drug ever invented, because meth addicts cannot resist the impulse to use more and more and because it is extremely destructive to their health.

I am saddened by all of the lives ruined by these drugs and find it asinine that states still put people in jail for marijuana, which is far less destructive. If we really care about our fellow human beings, then maybe we should divert more resources to education about the perils of meth, and focus more on treatment than on incarceration?

#12 PseudoSABR

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Posted 04 February 2014 - 01:01 AM

This isn't just any drug. What Heroin does for people (and look, its appeal is absolutely limited, nonetheless real and persistent for those afflicted) is something that the scope and possibility of their life does not provide them. I recall meeting a young poet who got messed up in high school and had since recovered. I asked him soberly and seriously what it was that drew him in and kept him hooked. He explained that the drug provided a totally convincing experience of safety and relief; that all those abstract, existential worries were suddenly relieved--things indeed would be just as sublime as we'd hope. Just a couple years later I saw the young poet at bar, and we played pool with some mutual friends. He seemed strange, his pupils, posture, manner, etc.; he was on it. And I asked, and he said, what did it matter, are you happy, I'm happy; I'm happy, man--just stop. And what could I say as sad as it all was, I had no better version of reality for him.

My read (sadly it goes beyond my one shared anecdote) is that this is simply another symptom of our pervasive misunderstanding about mental health and the psychological trauma some (many) experience withing the current cultural and economic climate. Civic responsibility (sadly) poo-poos mental health, just like it poo-poos the role of the arts. These things go hand and hand, folks.

Edited by PseudoSABR, 04 February 2014 - 01:20 AM.


#13 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 04 February 2014 - 03:33 PM

I think the thing that gets me at the end of the day is that no matter how hard society tries, people will always find a way to fry their brain if that's what they want to do. Meth was invented b/c we made drugs harder (but not impossible to get)... how do we respond? We punish law abiding citizens making it hard to get pseduafed. It's dumb. Now I have to find a 24 hour pharmacy if I come down with a cold in the middle of the night or risk potentially having my door kicked in b/c I bought too much... and what have we gotten for it all? Nothing.

I say legalize and tax it. You cannot stop it.

I'd add o Pseudo's comment. Your friend is escaping. That's it. His drug is where he goes to cope with whatever issue he's dealing with... I get that, I have my own demons that led to some poor decisions in life. There's a lot of psychology out there on this stuff, but I find it very interesting that some are far better than others at treating it.

#14 PseudoSABR

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Posted 04 February 2014 - 04:15 PM

Your friend is escaping. That's it. His drug is where he goes to cope with whatever issue he's dealing with... I get that, I have my own demons that led to some poor decisions in life. There's a lot of psychology out there on this stuff, but I find it very interesting that some are far better than others at treating it.

Honestly, it's a lot more complicated than that. There's a certain allure that people have for self-loathing, whether its suicide/cutting, herion, or even eating. It's not mere escape or hedonism, and overcoming it is not simply a matter of will. No doubt we've all overcome poor decisions and circumstances, however, our capacity to cope, clearly, changes from person to person. I think it's unfair to weigh the tragedy of someone else's life against my own.

#15 ashburyjohn

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Posted 04 February 2014 - 06:01 PM

whether its suicide/cutting,


Got a parallel explanation for cutting, along the lines you gave for what heroin does? That's one I've never understood either.

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#16 glunn

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Posted 04 February 2014 - 06:33 PM

After lots of recent reading, I am coming to the conclusion that opiates (including heroin) should be decriminalized, because people can use them and still function. However, it seems to me that meth may be just too dangerous and destructive to allow.

As for cutting, I would like to know more about whether this somehow satisfies the same cravings that lead to drug use.

#17 PseudoSABR

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Posted 04 February 2014 - 08:49 PM

Got a parallel explanation for cutting, along the lines you gave for what heroin does? That's one I've never understood either.

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My sense is that there's deep sense of self-loathing, like the base instinct is that they aren't worth their own flesh, but more I believe that it's also important that the act is essentially cowardly, as the violence falls well short of suicide. There's people that cut as a cry for help or to harm those that love them, but they aren't the habitual cutters, that do so in secret and with shame.

I dated a women who cut herself before our relationship (she was tragic, talented, beautiful). Her scars were omnipresent along her forearms. She wore fashionable arm warmers to be subtle about it, later she covered them with tatooes. It was clear that there was some deep shame that my love could never undue, in fact, she seemed to covet this shame, her desire for ruin; it was important that no one take that away from her. While she didn't cut herself while we dated, she came to abuse (though she's now in recovery, good for her). Drug abuse, self-harm, seem to me, symptoms of the same tragic sensibilities that so many really beautiful people possess.

Edited by PseudoSABR, 04 February 2014 - 09:15 PM.


#18 Willihammer

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Posted 04 February 2014 - 09:11 PM

Why does Andy, a heroin addict, shoot the unconscious heroin addict in this scene?



According to one Neil Morris:

If the reported circumstances surrounding Hoffman's death are true, they lend new, sad resonance to this great scene, where Andy (Hoffman) and his brother (played by Ethan Hawke) rob Andy's drug dealer for needed money. At one point, Andy stumbles across an unconscious heroin addict lying on the same bed where Andy has so many times after getting his fix and, in a moment of tortured self-loathing, shoots the addict in the head.


#19 SpiritofVodkaDave

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Posted 05 February 2014 - 03:23 PM

The problem with "taxing the hell out of it" is the black market for cheaper options will still exist. New York taxes the hell out of cigs here ($11-$12 a pack) and if you are at a bar on a Friday night there are often people walking around with backpacks full of cigs from other states selling them for $8 a pack.

The same thing will happen with weed getting legalized possibly. If the cost is close to the same of what is was before for a user, then they will buy it legally. However if there is a significant mark up, they will simply use the dealer/delivery service etc they did before.

Additionally I don't think legalizing hard drugs such as Meth, Heroin etc is a realistic option, frankly if you are dumb enough to to try either one even once (with all the info that is out there about the addictiveness/what it can do) , I don't have much sympathy for you, even if you are a friend/family. It's the equivolent of drinking 10 beers and then driving IMO, zero sympathy.
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#20 S.

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Posted 05 February 2014 - 04:58 PM

The same thing will happen with weed getting legalized possibly. If the cost is close to the same of what is was before for a user, then they will buy it legally. However if there is a significant mark up, they will simply use the dealer/delivery service etc they did before.

I lived in Denver 4 years ago, and this was very much the case with marijuana there at the time. I knew a few people with MMJ cards who were recreational smokers with no legitimate health issues and they all said it was very easy to find a doctor who would write you a relatively bogus script for a MMJ card for the right cost and then you could buy from the dispensaries (it was decriminalized at the time, but not legalized). On the other hand, if you knew the right people, you could simply buy directly from the same people who were supplying the dispensaries with their weed, cut out one of the middle men, and save money.

For some people the convenience of being able to walk into one of the many dispensaries any time they wanted and peruse a variety of strains of weed was worth the mark up and cost of acquiring their MMJ card. For a lot of people, weed is weed is weed, and if they could call up their buddy who grows and pay $40, they really have no reason to go to a shop and pay $50.

When it comes to hard drugs with very serious addictions, I'm positive this gap would be even more significantly pronounced. You're not going to see a serious heroin addict rationalizing that they can spend $10 more and go legally buy their heroin. They're going to call up their dealer and spend that $10 more to get an extra .1g.


In terms of the general discussion of the popularity of heroin, it definitely started getting more prevalent as the companies producing prescription opiates starting making them harder to abuse, and then continued to rise in popularity as a lot of the Florida pill mill doctors started getting shut down. As the pills were made to be harder to abuse, and the supply of easily abusable opiates started slowing down a bit, the price of pills started going up and for a lot of people with significant addictions, they could not afford to maintain their level of use with pills. From there, heroin was the obvious next step for a lot of people because they could get their same level of high for an absolute fraction of the cost.

#21 TheLeviathan

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Posted 05 February 2014 - 09:04 PM

You're not going to see a serious heroin addict rationalizing that they can spend $10 more and go legally buy their heroin. They're going to call up their dealer and spend that $10 more to get an extra .1g.


You can heavily tax something and still keep it close enough to the black market price to reduce the profit margins of criminals. Business models about moving tobacco from cheaper states to more expense ones isn't exactly going to buy anyone a yacht or their own crime syndicate. It's akin to moon-shining really.

Most of these chemicals are legal in various forms already. The potency available illegally is precisely because it reaches unsafe levels rather than what might be used for recreational purposes. I tend to believe that most users would be content with regulated levels of even hard drugs if they were no longer criminalized and more accessible.

#22 S.

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Posted 05 February 2014 - 09:57 PM

Narcotic opiate drugs are not legal in various forms without doctor prescription. And comparing the business models of black market cigarettes to heroin really isn't valid. Terrorist/criminal organizations, cartels, etc trafficking heroin across the globe is a whole different ballgame than Joe Shmo buying 10 cartons of smokes when he drives through New Hampshire and selling them for a few bucks profit in New York.
A few quotes, just for reference to the magnitude of the heroin trade:

[COLOR=#000000][FONT=sans-serif]According to a U.N. sponsored survey,[/FONT][/COLOR][7][COLOR=#000000][FONT=sans-serif] as of 2004[/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][FONT=sans-serif], Afghanistan accounted for production of 87 percent of the world's diacetylmorphine.[/FONT][/COLOR][78][COLOR=#000000][FONT=sans-serif]Afghan opium kills around 100,000 people annually.[/FONT][/COLOR]

[COLOR=#000000][FONT=sans-serif]
[/FONT][/COLOR]

[FONT=arial]About 15 million people around the world use heroin, opium or morphine, fueling a $65 billion market for the drug and also fueling terrorism and insurgencies: The Taliban raised $450 million to $600 million over the past four years by "taxing" opium farmers and traffickers, Antonio Maria Costa, head of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, said in a report.[/FONT]



Regardless, I don't think legalization of heroin is anything we will see in our lifetime.


Edit: Realized my post seems a bit angry, which is not my intention. No disrespect meant to anyone. Good discussion.

Edited by S., 05 February 2014 - 10:13 PM.


#23 TheLeviathan

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Posted 05 February 2014 - 10:43 PM

Narcotic opiate drugs are not legal in various forms without doctor prescription. And comparing the business models of black market cigarettes to heroin really isn't valid.


Didn't mean to imply that, I sort of merged my response to Dave and to you to the same quote. Yes you need a prescription, but they aren't all that difficult to obtain. The price is more of a deterrent than that is.

My point about organized crime vs. the black market as Dave suggested falls right into line with what you're saying. Loose black markets will always exist, but legalizing these drugs will do massive damage to actual criminal organizations. Which is a good thing IMO.

#24 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 06 February 2014 - 08:26 AM

I lived in Denver 4 years ago, and this was very much the case with marijuana there at the time. I knew a few people with MMJ cards who were recreational smokers with no legitimate health issues and they all said it was very easy to find a doctor who would write you a relatively bogus script for a MMJ card for the right cost and then you could buy from the dispensaries (it was decriminalized at the time, but not legalized). On the other hand, if you knew the right people, you could simply buy directly from the same people who were supplying the dispensaries with their weed, cut out one of the middle men, and save money.

For some people the convenience of being able to walk into one of the many dispensaries any time they wanted and peruse a variety of strains of weed was worth the mark up and cost of acquiring their MMJ card. For a lot of people, weed is weed is weed, and if they could call up their buddy who grows and pay $40, they really have no reason to go to a shop and pay $50.

When it comes to hard drugs with very serious addictions, I'm positive this gap would be even more significantly pronounced. You're not going to see a serious heroin addict rationalizing that they can spend $10 more and go legally buy their heroin. They're going to call up their dealer and spend that $10 more to get an extra .1g.


In terms of the general discussion of the popularity of heroin, it definitely started getting more prevalent as the companies producing prescription opiates starting making them harder to abuse, and then continued to rise in popularity as a lot of the Florida pill mill doctors started getting shut down. As the pills were made to be harder to abuse, and the supply of easily abusable opiates started slowing down a bit, the price of pills started going up and for a lot of people with significant addictions, they could not afford to maintain their level of use with pills. From there, heroin was the obvious next step for a lot of people because they could get their same level of high for an absolute fraction of the cost.


I think for the most part, the dealers go away. Keep in mind, if it's legal, it isn't terribly profitable for them. They lose tons of business. I do agree that a black market can form due to over-taxation, but as it is right now, buyers pay an inflated price due to the inherent risk associated with it. Pot is cheap, if it was legal and untaxed, it would be much much cheaper than it presently is. If you legalized it and taxed it, I don't think the prices would drop much for your average user. What it would do is provide a safer means for them to get their supply, eliminate billions spent yearly on fighting the "war on drugs" which quite frankly is a huge waste of money, and bring in extra money to the states.

This is true of many illegal activities, and in a free country, I just don't see how it is we should be able to stand up and tell people what they can and cannot do so long as they are not depriving other citizens of their own rights...

#25 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 06 February 2014 - 08:29 AM

Narcotic opiate drugs are not legal in various forms without doctor prescription. And comparing the business models of black market cigarettes to heroin really isn't valid. Terrorist/criminal organizations, cartels, etc trafficking heroin across the globe is a whole different ballgame than Joe Shmo buying 10 cartons of smokes when he drives through New Hampshire and selling them for a few bucks profit in New York.
A few quotes, just for reference to the magnitude of the heroin trade:

[COLOR=#000000][FONT=sans-serif]
[/FONT][/COLOR]

Regardless, I don't think legalization of heroin is anything we will see in our lifetime.


Edit: Realized my post seems a bit angry, which is not my intention. No disrespect meant to anyone. Good discussion.


Something to chew on... For all the talk about the Taliban in Afghanistan. They had banned the growth of opium right before we took them out. It was a death penalty to grow it. The US came in, and Afghanistan is back to being one of the top global producers of the drug.... Think about that for a second...

#26 twinsnorth49

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Posted 06 February 2014 - 09:43 AM

This is really two separate discussions, one surrounding the effect on users and one surrounding the effect on crime. Legalization or decriminalization of drugs would undoubtedly lead to a decrease in the associated crime that occurs with illegal trafficking and the enormous costs, both fiscally and socially that go into fighting it. Decriminalization in particular would get rid of the absurd street level and user punishment that most populates the courts and prisons, taxes the resources of law enforcement and stigmatizes lower socio-economic demographics.

On its own though it would not have much effect in the rate of usage or addiction among the population unless accompanied by a public health program designed to help people with that addiction. Legalization nor decriminalization eliminates the harmful use that drugs can have on people by itself, a large part of the social cost would still exist and that needs to be addressed. Portugal provides an interesting test case of this example. Although there are different views on what constitutes success, there has seemed to have been positive results on many fronts from that country decriminalizing all drugs.

Edited by twinsnorth49, 06 February 2014 - 09:46 AM.