The Heroin Epidemic and The Zika Virus
By Rachel Ehrenfeld
Monday, February 8th, 2016 @ 8:01PM
The number of people killed by heroin and opiate overdose in the United States has been growing exponentially, making this epidemic difficult to ignore in an election year. Thus, President Obama’s 2017 proposed budget includes an increase of $1.1 billion to address this domestic epidemic. The proposed budget also includes $1.8 billion to fight the spread of the Zika virus.
The Zika virus epidemic (causing microcephaly in babies) that started in Latin America in 2015, was identified in 51 cases in continental U.S. No death was reported. Colombia had 20,297 cases, of which 3 were deaths. Brazil reported some 3,500 cases. At the White House press conference on February 8, 2016, Dr. Anne Schuchat, the Principal Deputy Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced today they are “working 24/7 to protect Americans” from the Zika virus, as they should.
Fighting the heroin epidemic, however, is different.
According to available national statistics, “from 2000 to 2014 nearly half a million persons in the United States have died from drug overdoses.” In 2014, of the 47,055 who died 28,647 were killed by heroin. The CDC reported that from “2002 to 2013, heroin overdose death rates nearly quadrupled in the U.S..” The National Institute of Health reported in December 2015 that from 2001 to 2014, prescription drugs overdose deaths saw a 2.8-fold increase while heroin deaths had a 6-fold increase. European and other Western nations reported on similar trends. However, the only ones working 24/7 on the heroin epidemic, are the drug traffickers from Afghanistan through Iran to Russia, from North Korea to Europe and the Middle East and from Bolivia through Mexico to the U.S., the Middle East, and Africa.
Heroin addiction, unlike the Zika virus, is self-inflicted. But both originates elsewhere.
Opium poppy, the raw material for heroin, does not grow in the United States or Europe. Afghanistan, North Korea and Mexico are the major producers and suppliers of this and other drugs and jihadist terrorist groups everywhere, together with criminal gangs smuggle and distribute the drugs. But Western governments, including the U.S., have for decades ignored and sometimes even denied that terrorist organizations, including Muslim terror groups such as Hezbollah, al Qaeda, ISIS, the Taliban and North Korea, to name a few, use the illegal drug trade to fund their activities.
Heroin’s devastating effects on the individual are sometimes attributed to overindulgence, and that turns into illness while the accumulative harm and cost to society have been ignored. The different “wars on drugs” have failed for many reasons, but most notably, because they were fought half-heartedly and ineffectively.
The mosquitos, which carry the Zika virus carry no profit. Therefore, efforts are made to control this epidemic. But heroin and other opiates generate enormous sums of money to everyone involved; from the farmers who grow the opium poppy, to drug traffickers and terrorists who smuggle and distribute it, to corrupt government officials willing to turn a blind eye for a bribe, and to accountants, bankers and lawyers who while profiting from this illegal trade often become also its customers.
Indeed, hundreds of billions of dollars in revenues work as a powerful incentive to continue to ignore the heroin epidemic no matter how many life it takes and ruins, or how much of the revenues find their way to the pockets of our dangerous enemies.
You see, it’s all about money.