The entire Vietnam War claimed 58,000 American lives. In 2019, drug overdoses killed 70,980 Americans. And in 2020, the number of suspected overdoses in the U.S. — both fatal and nonfatal — was 18 percent higher year to year in March, according to the Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program. And in April, overdoses were up 29 percent; in May, 42 percent.
While everyone is focused on COVID19, everyone seems to be forgetting that there is a second worldwide Pandemic.
Hidden in CDC statistics is data confirming record Opioid Addiction in America. There are at least 2 Million Americans that use Opioids regularly.
Every time I write about this, there is a comment from someone that says that this is because of record use of prescription Opioid drugs in America and has nothing to do with Afghanistan and Iran.
While this has been partially true in years past, its not true anymore. Lawsuits against companies that manufacture these drugs has led to significant reduction in Opioid Analgesics (Drug) prescriptions and availability. When prescription drugs are not available or are simply too expensive, addicts switch to illicit supply. And illicit supply has continued to grow and remains cheap!
And then there are comments that suggest that US Opioid supply is from Mexico, not Afghanistan; but its very clear that Mexico only has about 10,000 Hectares of poppy cultivation, and Mexican cartels continue to import vast quantities that have originated from Afghanistan. Basically, US Opioid supply is from Afghanistan.
The day, the USA invaded Afghanistan, Total Afghan Opioid annual production of Opioids was less than 1 Ton. Today, 20 years later over 300,000 hectares of poppy is cultivated. Afghanistan provides most of the world’s supply.
Iran too suffers from an extreme Opioid drug addiction problem.
Under US ‘supervision’, Afghanistan’s production increased dramatically. A cynic would say, that the US sponsored (and protected) Afghanistan’s opioid production and exports, because the bulk of it was entering Iran and Russia. This was a modern Opium war organized by the CIA to undermine and eventually defeat US enemies.
It is true that Iran’s heroin addiction problem is probably the “worst in the world.” Estimates of the number of addicts vary widely—from one million to more than three million habitual drug users. A 2006 report estimated that 8 percent of the adult population was addicted to drugs. There are reports that as much as 6 Million Iranians use Opioids recreationally.
Iranian health care data indicates that over a recent six-year period, over half million people received treatment in government related drug programs. Drug abuse and addiction often drive drug users into crimes to support his or her habit or wind the person up in jail due to an arrest for sales or possession of drugs. Out of the 170,000 people in jail in Iran, 68,000 are there for drug trafficking and 32,000 are these because they are addicts.
Iran lies directly in the path of the world’s largest flow of heroin. Finished heroin, partially refined heroin in the form of morphine or raw opium leave Afghanistan and enter Iran—an estimated 140 metric tons a year of it. Only about 23 percent of it is seized each year or 32 metric tons. Most of the remainder enters Turkey and then travels through the Balkans on its way to Europe and then eventually to the US. It is interesting to note that half of the world’s seizures of heroin occurred in either Turkey or Iran.
As the US finally exits Afghanistan this May, it would be helpful for the new US administration to recognize that this idea of destroying Iran via Opioid cultivation next door has backfired badly. Repeat: it has backfired badly.
Like so many of our nation’s other pandemic pathologies, the overdose pandemic appears to have grown even more severe in 2020 than it was in 2019. One pandemic has led to dramatic worsening of another pandemic.
This global calamity is being further exacerbated by widespread closures of treatment centers and recovery programs during COVID19 shutdowns. For now, the scaling back of these services is primarily driven by the exigencies of shutdown orders and social-distancing protocols. But a great many of these facilities are also shuttering permanently, as a result of financial insolvency.
If there is to be a rapprochement with Iran, one critical area of common interest (that could help re-establish trust between the US and Iran) could be cooperation in reducing drug trafficking and collaboration on reducing Afghanistan’s poppy cultivation.
More broadly, the new US administration needs to get a handle on CIA’s illicit drug and biological warfare programs. It is unconscionable for the US government to have been a major partner in Afghanistan’s record poppy cultivation and opium industry.
And on a separate note, everyone knows that even if China’s Wuhan Virology institute was a source of the COVID19 virus – which is debatable – that the US had similar programs and was also heavily involved in joint programs with the Wuhan Institute. The US could very well have supplied critical components (and technologies) for Wuhan’s ‘dual use’ programs.
Biological weapons need to be banned. We have not one, but two pandemics across the world because of these programs. This must stop.