The Washington Post recently published an opinion article written by Eugene Robinson who argues that the recent death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman shows that America is losing the drug war. On Super Bowl Sunday, 46 year old actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead in his Manhattan apartment, allegedly from a heroin overdose. Robinson argues that this is further proof that anyone, no matter how talented or how rich, can become addicted to drugs.
The author also makes an argument that one of the big reasons why people are dying from drug overdoses is because the drugs they buy off the street are unregulated. Stronger batches or drugs containing extra chemicals can be deadly to users who purchase them from street dealers. The author cites a recent occurrence where 37 people died in Maryland, 22 in Pennsylvania, and several more in Ohio and New York after they injected heroin adulterated with fentanyl, a synthetic opioid. This drug has been found to be as much as 100 times stronger than morphine.
Robinson then goes on to say that states like Colorado and Washington are setting the bar for legalization and that all drugs, including harder drugs like heroin, should be government regulated. He believes that addiction should be treated as a medical problem. Instead of simply telling addicts to quit by themselves, their addiction should be approached as a chronic illness where steps can be taken manage the symptoms. He states:
There would be times when managing addiction means prescribing to addicts pharmaceutical-grade heroin and other drugs and then medically monitoring them. There would be other times when it means treatment to get clean.
This is a very controversial issue, but clearly something needs to be done to help people addicted to us to drugs to overcome their addictions. Increasing penalties for drug crimes will not make people stop using drugs, it will only cause jails to Philip faster and more people to avoid getting the help they need.