Heroin Is Killing White People In America


Heroin? That sounds like a white problem.

Heroin was first synthesized in 1874 by adding two acetyl groups to the molecule morphine, which is found naturally in the opium poppy. Administered intravenously by injection, heroin is two to four times more potent than morphine and is faster in its onset of action.
Heroin can be available in freebase form, dulling the sheen and consistency to a matte-white powder. Because of its lower boiling point, this form of heroin is smokable. It’s prevalent in heroin coming from Afghanistan, which in 2004 produced roughly 87% of the world supply in illicit raw opium; however, the production rate in Mexico has risen sixfold from 2007 to 2011, changing that percentage and placing Mexico as the second largest opium producer in the world.
Heroin-related deaths jumped 39 percent from 2012 to 2013, and the longer-term trends are equally disturbing: from 2002 to 2013, the rate of heroin-related overdose deaths nearly quadrupled, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Researchers have found that prior to the 1980s, whites and nonwhites were equally represented among first-time heroin users. But that’s changed as heroin use has expanded across other parts of the country. Now, nearly 90 percent of the people who tried heroin for the first time in the past decade were white. And a growing number are middle-class or wealthy. Three out of four heroin addicts started out by using prescription drugs, according a recent survey, which is part of a growing body of evidence that many of today’s heroin users are shifting from prescription pill addiction to heroin addiction.

Dope Is Killing White People

In response to surging heroin use, President Obama traveled this month to West Virginia to discuss his $133 million proposal to fight drug addiction – by expanding access for drug treatment and prevention programs.

Some law enforcement experts and African-American leaders have expressed frustration with the fact that there seems to be more tolerance and sensitivity for drugs once they move into white communities.

“This is not a new problem,” said Marc Mauer, executive director of the Sentencing Project, which examines racial issues in the criminal justice system. “Go back 100 years on race and the drug war. Look at marijuana in the 1930s. Marijuana was demonized and the popular image of it was that it was used in racy parts of town, where blacks or Mexican-Americans went. That was the perception. Then in the 1960s, millions of largely white, middle-class college students started consuming enormous quantities of marijuana and perceptions changed almost overnight.”

Drugs and addiction are often personal and traumatic ordeals. However, there is a new sense of alarm now that white people are being overwhelmingly affected. I can only think about something mentioned awhile back regarding the overwhelming focus on communities of color and the so called War on Drugs.

We detail it’s failings here. The drug war has produced profoundly unequal outcomes across racial groups, manifested through racial discrimination by law enforcement and disproportionate drug war misery suffered by communities of color. Although rates of drug use and selling are comparable across racial lines, people of color are far more likely to be stopped, searched, arrested, prosecuted, convicted and incarcerated for drug law violations than are whites. Higher arrest and incarceration rates for African Americans and Latinos are not reflective of increased prevalence of drug use or sales in these communities, but rather of a law enforcement focus on urban areas, on lower-income communities and on communities of color as well as inequitable treatment by the criminal justice system. The mass criminalization of people of color, particularly young African American men, is as profound a system of racial control as the Jim Crow laws were in this country.

I, like many, have lost friends and family to drugs. The population that’s affected now can only be explained by Malcolm X.



KTB Editors

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