If you’d like to know why people are so misinformed, you need look no further than your local news. Noah Bond of ABC4 in Salt Lake City recently reported on a new heroin epidemic:
A strong batch of heroin is killing addicts in Salt Lake County. At least four people are dead and two others are critically injured.
Part of the reason is access. Heroin has never been so cheap. It’s selling for as little as $10. Cottonwood Heights Police Officer Beau Babka is extremely concerned. “We’ve seen a peak in heroine use lately,” he said.
(that’s his spelling mistake, not mine – there isn’t a peak in female hero use)
Here’s the first problem Noah: Heroin has always been this cheap. Always.
|The Jambar, May 29, 1970|
A quick google search showed that The Harvard Crimson reported on $10 bags of heroin seized by Cambridge police back in february of 1971. And according to a Special Edition of The Jambar, a Youngstown State University newspaper from May 29, 1970, a hit of heroin costs between $7 to $10. This has remained the average price of heroin through four decades, and there have been 40 excruciating years of stories reporting on the lure of cheap heroin. (although in some places it can be bought for $5 a bag)
Let’s look carefully at what newsman Noah Bond is suggesting. He’s saying that the reason people are being killed by heroin is because it’s so cheap.
This is a dangerously idiotic view, because it ignores the true reasons people abuse substances, and if it’s correct, then Mr Bond is killing people too by acting as an advertiser for the drug. Imagine a happy housewife watching the local news as she prepares dinner. All is well in her life, she’s happy raising her children, communicates well in her relationship with her husband, and has a small successful party planning business on the side. Everything is great in her life. Noah Bond reports that heroin is available in Salt Lake City for the cheap price of only $10 a bag and this otherwise happy normal person drops everything, and runs out to get a bag of heroin because she can’t resist the lure of a discount. Sound like bullshit? It is. Cheap prices would never have ANYTHING to do with someone becoming a heroin user. This is pure nonsense.
Mr Bond is not the first person to utter such bullshit. To be fair to him, he’s only repeating a point he’s heard from the journalists in the big leagues. They’ve been reporting on this new cheaper purer heroin for years now – but the price has remained the same. To have written such a story 10 or 20 years ago would have been somewhat excusable, but it’s so tired at this point and the $10 figure has been reported so many times that it’s now unforgivable.
Bond also writes:
Now the addicts are now dying. Heroin sold to Salt Lake County is usually only 30 percent pure because it’s diluted with other substances. Police think the deadly batch is 90 percent pure, which is so powerful many user stop breathing.
(again, this is directly quoted, the grammar mistakes are not mine)
The supposed purity of street heroin has been going up for as long as $10 bags of heroin have been a new phenomena. While researching this story, I found that I’m not the first one to notice this nonsense – Matt Harvey of the New York Press recently covered both these points, and he found that purity levels are in a constant state of flux (check the article, he also digs into the constant alarmism about heroin reaching suburban white kids). The problem is that the media is continually reporting a sharp rise in purity and that if we took their reports at face value then street heroin would be 500% pure by now!
Then there’s this all too familiar point:
Packets of heroin now come stamped with characters from pop culture including the Twilight Movies to entice young teens to buy. Users can get the drug dirt cheap with drug lords peddling it for even less than marijuana.
This is actually infuriatingly moronic.
When I started using heroin in 1995 there were bags stamped with pictures of Bart Simpson. These stamps are for branding purposes, so that dealers and users can have some idea of the quality of a batch. Yet the stamps have constantly been reported as if they’ll somehow lure otherwise well-adjusted children into becoming heroin users. Can you imagine the absurdity of some drug dealer showing a bag stamped with the image of a Twilight character to a kid who has no interest in heroin and all of a sudden he can’t resist both the cheap price and the lure of his teen idol, and becomes a heroin addict? I’m sorry, but if your kid were to start doing heroin simply for the reason that there is a crude drawing of a cartoon character or teen idol on the bag, then he’s got BIG problems which you should be addressing and heroin is actually the least of them.
So, to review – heroin has come in $10 bags forever, it has been getting purer forever, the bags have been stamped with cute images forever – none of this is a new threat! Furthermore it’s absurd that we waste our time and mental energy discussing such transparently empty issues. But why do we talk about this nonsense in the public arena again and again? The reason is that we’re NOT allowed to talk about the issues that matter. The PC police have stepped in and proclaimed that addiction is a disease, that it has nothing to do with an individuals beliefs, values, morality, free will, or choice. If you discuss any of this you will be painted as a heartless judgmental son-of-a-bitch. These topics are off limits in the public debate. So we talk about nonsense. We actually pretend that a lower heroin price (which is never actually lower!) contributes to addiction. We pretend that the branding on the bags contributes to addiction. But what about the addicts themselves? We can’t discuss them in any other terms than as victims. We can’t discuss what’s going on in their life in terms of values & morality. Addicts feel empty. They are unfulfilled in life. As a result they obsessively chase a fake form of happiness strung together with the cheap thrills of drug use. Why are our youth feeling so empty that they do this? I wish we could discuss that, but we’d have to talk about values & morality to do so, and that’s off limits.