How bad was China's opium epidemic compared to the present US?

Rodger

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
4,982
US
#11
One thing to keep in mind is that until recently, cocaine was the major drug in the 80's, 90's and early 2000. Heroin is having a sort of revival.

The Heroin used in the US is more processed and probably more lethal in sudden death as a result. Smoking opium isn't as immediately lethal in causing sudden overdose. But the greater numbers almost certainly led to more deaths in China.
M
The fentanyl in the heroin has become the main culprit in overdoses.
 

Edratman

Ad Honorem
Feb 2009
6,069
Eastern PA
#12
The Heroin used in the US is more processed and probably more lethal in sudden death as a result. Smoking opium isn't as immediately lethal in causing sudden overdose. But the greater numbers almost certainly led to more deaths in China.
M
Just yesterday I read in the local newspaper that PA had the most opiate deaths in the nation in 2017. Accordingly, there are many articles addressing heroin usage and all of them attribute the bulk of the heroin epidemic to pain pills. It seems that people start with an addiction to pain pills and turn to heroin because it is so much cheaper than pills.

I find that latter statement incomprehensible, but I have seen it printed so many times that I have come to accept it. Can you believe that heroin is cheaper than pain pills? I still cannot figure out the cost benefit of adding fentanyl to heroin which appears to be the primary source of most overdose fatalities.
 

Sindane

Ad Honorem
Aug 2013
4,545
Europe
#13
Just yesterday I read in the local newspaper that PA had the most opiate deaths in the nation in 2017. Accordingly, there are many articles addressing heroin usage and all of them attribute the bulk of the heroin epidemic to pain pills. It seems that people start with an addiction to pain pills and turn to heroin because it is so much cheaper than pills.

I find that latter statement incomprehensible, but I have seen it printed so many times that I have come to accept it. Can you believe that heroin is cheaper than pain pills? I still cannot figure out the cost benefit of adding fentanyl to heroin which appears to be the primary source of most overdose fatalities.

Yes I can believe the cheapness of heroin. I remember vividly the heroin epidemic of the 1980's / 90's in the UK. The towns and cities were flooded with cheap (smokeable) heroin, at a time of high unemployment in the post industrial districts. The number of UK heroin addicts peaked in the mid 1990's at about half a million. You could buy as low as a £2 deal of it on the council estate where I lived at the time. It was cheaper than drinking or smoking weed. Lost a lot of friends and neighbours because of it.

Now it's in decline and young people in the UK have generally turned against it. Thank God.
I suppose because a lot of them grew up seeing addiction all around them and they rebelled agaisnt it
 
Last edited:

Rodger

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
4,982
US
#14
Just yesterday I read in the local newspaper that PA had the most opiate deaths in the nation in 2017. Accordingly, there are many articles addressing heroin usage and all of them attribute the bulk of the heroin epidemic to pain pills. It seems that people start with an addiction to pain pills and turn to heroin because it is so much cheaper than pills.

I find that latter statement incomprehensible, but I have seen it printed so many times that I have come to accept it. Can you believe that heroin is cheaper than pain pills? I still cannot figure out the cost benefit of adding fentanyl to heroin which appears to be the primary source of most overdose fatalities.
Yes. There has been a crack down on prescribing opiates. so, the supply is now limited. A packet of heroin is $10. An oxycodone, maybe $20. Fentanyl is an extremely powerful, but cheap pain reliever. The overdoses occur because breathing rate slows with heroin. People just fall into a sleep and never wake up.
Why would anyone cut heroin with fentanyl? It’s cheap, these researchers say
Why is Mixing Fentanyl with Heroin So Dangerous? - Desert Hope
https://www.cnn.com/2014/02/04/health/how-heroin-kills/index.html
 
Likes: Edratman
Oct 2018
316
Adelaide south Australia
#15
Opiates are perfectly safe if used to combat pain. That means prescribed and pure, not street.The opiate is then used by the body in dealing with the pain. The patient does not become addicted. Addiction to opiates occurs when it is taken recreationally, or when more is given than actually needed to handle the pain..

An addict receiving chemically pure morphia/ heroin, of a consistent quality, can survive and function for many years. It is especially useful for terminally ill patients in severe pain.
With opiate on demand via spinal drip, the person can remain pain free and lucid, enjoying a good quality to their end of life. Canada is the only country of which I'm aware which allows that practice.

MY own view has remained the same for about 50 years. I was taught about opiates by my boss, the battalion doctor, in my role as a medic. My opinion is illegal drugs such as marijuana (currently having just been legalised in Canada) and opium/ morphia/heroin, should be legal, licensed, monitored and taxed.

There is a great deal of nonsense written about addiction, few doctors know much about the subject.. I urge anyone really interested to have a look online for information about the biochemistry of addiction.

I gained my own knowledge in my journey from alcohol addiction. I have been sober for 16 years. Yes, I recommend Alcohol Anonymous as a good start, but not as a solution. My attitude is to take any and all help on offer, from any available sources. AA teaches that around 10% of the population will be alcoholic. How many members do we have?
 
Jun 2014
4,982
US
#16
Opiates are perfectly safe if used to combat pain. That means prescribed and pure, not street.The opiate is then used by the body in dealing with the pain. The patient does not become addicted. Addiction to opiates occurs when it is taken recreationally, or when more is given than actually needed to handle the pain..

An addict receiving chemically pure morphia/ heroin, of a consistent quality, can survive and function for many years. It is especially useful for terminally ill patients in severe pain.
With opiate on demand via spinal drip, the person can remain pain free and lucid, enjoying a good quality to their end of life. Canada is the only country of which I'm aware which allows that practice.

MY own view has remained the same for about 50 years. I was taught about opiates by my boss, the battalion doctor, in my role as a medic. My opinion is illegal drugs such as marijuana (currently having just been legalised in Canada) and opium/ morphia/heroin, should be legal, licensed, monitored and taxed.

There is a great deal of nonsense written about addiction, few doctors know much about the subject.. I urge anyone really interested to have a look online for information about the biochemistry of addiction.

I gained my own knowledge in my journey from alcohol addiction. I have been sober for 16 years. Yes, I recommend Alcohol Anonymous as a good start, but not as a solution. My attitude is to take any and all help on offer, from any available sources. AA teaches that around 10% of the population will be alcoholic. How many members do we have?
Congratulations on your recovery and best wishes. It is hard to argue with the circumstances that many opium addicts started as people receiving a prescribed opiate from a doctor. As somebody who has struggled with addiction, you know that some people are hard wired in such a way that, once they receive some kind of substance in their body, the cravings can lead to dependency. I can't say that these people don't then abuse their prescription. I will tell you, at least recently here in the U.S., doctors who do prescribe (many have ceased because of the vigilance in reviewing their dispensations) will ask you to bring the prescription bottle in for a count and they won't give you your next prescription until its due. So, going over one's dosage isn't easy. Now, many are prescribed, then the prescription ceases. Some of these turn to the street for their opiate fix. The article I attached below, from the American Society of Addiction Medicine says that 4 out of 5 opiate abusers started out using a prescription opiate first. It's risky stuff to me. I won't even take codeine when prescribed .
https://www.asam.org/docs/default-source/advocacy/opioid-addiction-disease-facts-figures.pdf
 
Feb 2009
6,069
Eastern PA
#17
Yes. There has been a crack down on prescribing opiates. so, the supply is now limited. A packet of heroin is $10. An oxycodone, maybe $20. Fentanyl is an extremely powerful, but cheap pain reliever. The overdoses occur because breathing rate slows with heroin. People just fall into a sleep and never wake up.
Why would anyone cut heroin with fentanyl? It’s cheap, these researchers say
Why is Mixing Fentanyl with Heroin So Dangerous? - Desert Hope
https://www.cnn.com/2014/02/04/health/how-heroin-kills/index.html
Thanks for the links Rodger. I should have realized or intuited that fentanyl was cheaper than heroin, which explains its application.

But once again I wonder why illegal drugs are cheaper than well established pain pills?

Of course, just last week I read that one of the firms responsible for producing and selling huge and unreasonable quantities of legal opiate pain pills is also selling products for resolution of opiate addiction. It close the circle of a perfect business plan, create a problem and then sell the solution. Only in America!!
 
Jun 2014
4,982
US
#18
Thanks for the links Rodger. I should have realized or intuited that fentanyl was cheaper than heroin, which explains its application.

But once again I wonder why illegal drugs are cheaper than well established pain pills?

Of course, just last week I read that one of the firms responsible for producing and selling huge and unreasonable quantities of legal opiate pain pills is also selling products for resolution of opiate addiction. It close the circle of a perfect business plan, create a problem and then sell the solution. Only in America!!
To my understanding, there has been a great deal of pressure upon the pharmaceutical industry and the medical profession to stop over prescribing opiates. The rule of supply and demand then comes into play. Heroin and fentanyl today is mostly synthetic and is being mass produced in places like China, then exported here. These chemists don't have the "overhead" of a big pharmaceutical, I guess. I know a packet of heroin is $10 where I live.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/nati...ory.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.3fd8e3d422f3
Fentanyl has taken over America's drug market. Where is it coming from?
What It Means For The U.S. That China Will Label Fentanyl As 'A Controlled Substance'
 
Aug 2014
3,406
Australia
#19
Opiates are perfectly safe if used to combat pain. That means prescribed and pure, not street.The opiate is then used by the body in dealing with the pain. The patient does not become addicted. Addiction to opiates occurs when it is taken recreationally, or when more is given than actually needed to handle the pain..

An addict receiving chemically pure morphia/ heroin, of a consistent quality, can survive and function for many years. It is especially useful for terminally ill patients in severe pain.
With opiate on demand via spinal drip, the person can remain pain free and lucid, enjoying a good quality to their end of life. Canada is the only country of which I'm aware which allows that practice.

MY own view has remained the same for about 50 years. I was taught about opiates by my boss, the battalion doctor, in my role as a medic. My opinion is illegal drugs such as marijuana (currently having just been legalised in Canada) and opium/ morphia/heroin, should be legal, licensed, monitored and taxed.

There is a great deal of nonsense written about addiction, few doctors know much about the subject.. I urge anyone really interested to have a look online for information about the biochemistry of addiction.

I gained my own knowledge in my journey from alcohol addiction. I have been sober for 16 years. Yes, I recommend Alcohol Anonymous as a good start, but not as a solution. My attitude is to take any and all help on offer, from any available sources. AA teaches that around 10% of the population will be alcoholic. How many members do we have?
Recent research suggests that opiates are only effective at relieving acute pain not chronic pain. They lose effectiveness after a few weeks as the body develops tolerance, so the dose needs to constantly be increased to achieve the same level of relief. Current recommendation is to not use opiates at all to treat chronic pain. The main exception is "end of life" care.
 
Feb 2009
6,069
Eastern PA
#20
To my understanding, there has been a great deal of pressure upon the pharmaceutical industry and the medical profession to stop over prescribing opiates. The rule of supply and demand then comes into play. Heroin and fentanyl today is mostly synthetic and is being mass produced in places like China, then exported here. These chemists don't have the "overhead" of a big pharmaceutical, I guess. I know a packet of heroin is $10 where I live.
The articles that I have read indicate the the real pressures being applied to the pharmaceutical industry are resulting from law suits filed by municipal, county and a few state governments to recover the huge outlays they have made to combat the problem. The federal government appears to be limiting their concerns with the opiate issues by applying frequent and extensive lip service.

Naloxone, a solution to overdose problems, has increased in price by 680% over the past four years. Go figure!

As opioid overdose numbers rise, so does the cost of naloxone
As opioid overdose numbers rise, so does the cost of naloxone | Bill of Health


There is absolutely nothing about the opioid crisis that does not reek of corruption on a massive scale.
 
Likes: Rodger

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