New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie linked the country's devastating 20-year heroin epidemic on President Obama in a newly released campaign ad.
"Lawlessness in America and around the world under Barack Obama," Christie said while looking straight into the camera, revealing an uncomfortable tight shot of his face. Christie then claimed that "drugs [are] running rampant and destroying lives" as images of drug addicts shooting up appear on the screen.
With laws that protect consumers from false advertising, it’s incredible how easily politicians can lie to their constituents in campaign ads with absolutely no repercussions. The reality regarding heroin addiction in the U.S. is a tragic one, and someone vying to be the next President should probably understand why it’s happening instead of exploiting it for political gain.
The rise in heroin addicts didn’t start with a group of lawless people looking to be junkies. In fact, many of the current heroin addicts are in the middle class, half of them are women, and an estimated 90 percent are white. What The Economist has referred to as “The Great American Relapse” is the direct consequence of pharmaceutical companies pushing painkillers like OxyContin for years, which are also known as opioids.
When patients suffered from injuries or needed pain medication to recover from surgery, doctors would prescribe the highly addictive painkillers with the encouragement of big pharma, and without making sure those taking them fully understood the addictive nature of the drugs. Some clinics became so-called “pill mills” where physicians would prescribe the opioids with no questions asked. The end result was a population of people who were dependent on prescription painkillers.
While the federal government wasted its time raiding marijuana dispensaries, prescription painkillers accounted for 16,000 deaths, or nearly four out of every ten fatal drug overdoses in America in 2012 alone. In response, the government cracked down on doctors over-prescribing painkillers, and pharmaceutical companies changed the consistency of OxyContin so it can no longer be abused by people snorting or injecting the pills by crushing them.
When addicts couldn’t get their hands on the drugs, they resorted to the black market, where OxyContin is being sold for as much as $80 per pill. Most people couldn’t afford the mark-up, so they started using heroin for a cheaper high.
In 2013, an estimated 517,000 people reported that they had used heroin in the last year or had a heroin-related dependence, and that’s a 150% increase from 2007. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 8,200 people died of heroin-related overdose in 2013. No one died from marijuana overdose, which is widely used as a painkiller, but is still considered a Schedule 1 drug by the federal government.
Overall, heroin use has jumped 63% from 2002 to 2013, and the CDC makes clear that those who are addicted to prescription painkillers are 40% more likely to get addicted to heroin in the future.
But according to Christie, this is all Obama’s fault.
The blame should be placed on most politicians who refuse the handle the issue appropriately. Big pharma gets to enjoy relaxed laws due to their politician purchasing power. They’ve already spent $125 million in lobbying this year alone to dodge proposed regulations and make sure drugs like marijuana remain a federally banned substance.
Christie received more than $131,000 in campaign donations from pharmaceutical companies from 2008 to 2013, which is why he’s so willing to place the blame on his political opponent rather than reveal the truth about why people are suffering from these addictions in the first place. Would Christie create rehabilitation programs to help addicts? You haven't mentioned that or any other solutions.
Despite all the damage drugs like OxyContin have caused, the FDA just approved the painkillers for children ages 11-16. It’s maddening that deplorable clowns like Christie are willing to demonize non-addictive painkillers like marijuana while simultaneously turning a blind eye to the pharmaceutical drugs that rip the nation apart. His concern for heroin addicts is disingenuous, and all he cares to do is use Obama as a scapegoat when in reality he’s a huge part of the problem.