Kratom may be the key to solving America’s widespread opioid crisis. As disenfranchised Americans continue to overdose, governments and the media alike scramble for a solution. Some candidates, such and Andrew Yang, have gone so far as to make the causes of the opioid crisis their foremost campaign focus. Yet amidst this crawl towards salvation for middle-America, the government continues to embrace flawed logic and pursue damaging legislation in regards to Kratom.
Andrew Lepore | United States
Currently, The United States is in the midst of what many call an opioid crisis. People from all backgrounds are getting addicted to, and overdosing on, opium-derived substances (Prescription painkillers, heroin, fentanyl, and more) at record rates. Every 11 minutes, another individual dies from an opiate overdose. In fact, the United States leads the world in drug overdoses, and opiates cause the majority of these. But kratom, an ancient drug, may offer solutions. Continue reading “Banning Kratom Nationwide Will Be Deadly”
Cassandra Twining | United States
Doctors in the United States write 50 million Xanax prescriptions per year. That’s over one prescription per second. You can buy 30 Xanax pills at your local pharmacy for on average $100. That amounts to five billion dollars being spent on Xanax every single year. But what exactly is Xanax and how does it work?
Xanax, also commonly known by its cheaper off-brand counterpart Alprazolam, is a Benzodiazepine. It is commonly used to treat general anxiety disorder, panic disorders, and insomnia. Benzodiazepines are a specific category of drug that works in specific receptors in your brain. The Benzodiazepines, in this instance, Xanax, attaches to the gamma-aminobutyric acid-A (GABA-A) receptors in your brain and diminish sensitivity to stimulation, which in turn produces the calming effect so many people love. Xanax is listed by the Drug Enforcement Agency as a schedule 4 drug. This essentially means that it is the second least likely to lead to addiction and it is very safe to take. At least according to their classification that is… So let’s look a little more into what exactly Xanax does to your brain along with the long term effects.
Treating anxiety disorders can be very difficult for some people because of the vast amount of kinds of ways anxiety can present itself. While Xanax is not the only option for treating anxiety medically, it is certainly the most commonly prescribed and most well-known option. There are 3 fundamental problems with Xanax and its long term effects on the brain.
Treating Symptoms, not Problems
The first problem being that Xanax doesn’t stop one’s anxiety, it merely numbs it. When the medication goes into the receptors in your brain and dims the sensation in the brain it effectively reduces the release of the chemicals in your brain that causes anxiety. However, the issue arises from the fact that a reduction of the release of the chemicals does not mean they go away, it just builds up.
This is why when people try to quit taking Xanax or the dosage they took wears off the anxiety feelings not only come back but comes back more forcefully. It’s essentially like sweeping dirt under a rug; it’s still there and it’s still going to affect you eventually. The problem is just continuing to build up and get worse.
This problem is enhanced by the second problem faced with Xanax: it has an incredibly short half-life. Meaning that the amount of time it takes for the drug to completely leave your system is really quick. Which makes people want to take more of the medication even when they’re not scheduled to because of the adverse effects that come when it wears off.
Xanax Addiction and Overdose
Both problems, in turn, contribute to the third and final problem that Xanax is highly addictive. Because of the short half-life, the increase in anxiety when it wears off, and the effectiveness of the drug, people quickly become both physically and emotionally dependant on Xanax as a treatment for their anxiety.
It is also very possible to overdose on Xanax, especially taken with other opioids or alcohol. In 2015 over 30,000 drug overdose deaths were the result of opioids mixed with benzos like Xanax. It is also important to note that these numbers of Xanax use are only those prescribed by doctors; Xanax is also a very commonly used recreational drug. Doctors and pharmaceutical companies are making billions of dollars from prescribing and encouraging the consumption of a drug that is continuing to increase the amounts of anxiety and addiction in our country.
Nevertheless, anxiety is a very real and serious issue. So what can people do to change the current system for go to treatment options? A community health center in Louisville, Kentucky started to notice how the mass amounts of Xanax prescriptions for patients were not only dangerous but also a drain on their resources.
Because of the lack of education surrounding the long term effects of Xanax they were also spending an enormous amount of time just simply educating people about it. This is why they decided to switch to prescribing clonazepam a similar drug with less adverse long term effects. They are trying to completely wean their patients off of Xanax altogether. There are some people who do truly benefit from its effects. However, it is such a dangerous drug that the risk just doesn’t appear to continue to be worth it.
Finally, there are a lot of ways to try and alleviate anxiety using natural methods of treatment. Exercising can release endorphins and be a cathartic experience that can help with anxious feelings. Meditation and relaxation exercises like slowly relaxing each muscle group and breathing techniques can also help. You can also try reading, writing, natural medical treatments, or anything you may feel will help.
It’s most important to remember that anxiety isn’t the same for everyone and what might work for you might not work for someone else. It takes hard work and bravery to evaluate your options and find the best course of treatment for you. It’s okay to not want to try modern medical solutions, and it’s okay to want to! What’s not okay is not having the full story of how these solutions actually affect you. Do your research and make sure you’re not just making the problem worse while trying to solve it.
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By Dr. Kyle Varner | United States
For a business magnate, Donald Trump is surprisingly ignorant about basic economics.
Back in August of this year, he was offered a copy of Henry Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson and he would have done well to take a look at what it had to say. The missed opportunity to educate himself on the subject is particularly painful now that Trump is trying to apply his economic ignorance to tackle the country’s opioid crisis.
Just last week, the President called on the Chinese government to apply the death penalty against distributors of Fentanyl, a dangerous opioid drug, because “the results will be incredible!”
America, this is not going to end well…
Governments have been trying to reduce the social harm of opioids by restricting their supply since at least 1729 when the Emperor of China issued his first decree against opium. This did not go well for the Chinese, giving rise to a highly profitable business of opium smuggling and culminating in the disastrous Opium Wars of the late 19th century.
The results have been similar in the modern war on drugs, which America has been waging for more than 100 years. Despite the federal government’s best efforts to protect public health by restricting the supply of opioids, marijuana, LSD, cocaine etc, it has been largely ineffective. Prohibition has consistently failed throughout history–and if you understand the economics of supply and demand, it’s obvious why.
The Basics of Supply and Demand
At the core of supply and demand are prices. Prices provide everyone in the market with vital information. They’re a signal to producers, telling them how to satisfy consumers and what obstacles there are to overcome.
When something as common as toilet paper becomes scarce, prices rise. The higher price prompts producers to act: new suppliers move into the market, lured by the high prices and an opportunity to undercut the competition. As supply increases, prices fall.
Market pricing mechanisms ensure that shortages are temporary and supplies of goods are available. This, however, only works in a free market. When the government intervenes, supply and demand are prevented from finding equilibrium, leading prices to stay artificially high or low.
So what happens when the government tries to restrict the supply of drugs like Fentanyl?
The Economics of Prohibition
Prices will rise. There will be a greater incentive to smuggle Fentanyl (and the even more dangerous drug Carfentanil) into the United States. And with so much money to be made, there will also be a greater incentive to divert narcotics from medical supplies in the U.S.
Narcotics obey the same rules of any other goods: the higher the price goes, the harder the suppliers work.
On the buyer’s side, there are severe consequences as well. Someone who is truly addicted to a drug is typically willing to pay for it at any cost. As prices rise, addicts often take even more desperate measures to obtain the drugs–even if it means turning crime.
How to Solve the Opioid Crisis
Instead of prohibition, we need to legalize the sale of opioids that are the least likely to kill people. This will provide addicts with less deadly and less costly alternatives to Fentanyl such as low potency opioids like oxycodone IR, hydrocodone, or buprenorphine.
We must be realistic. If people are going to take harmful drugs, the best course of action is to make the market and consumption of these drugs the least harmful. Legalizing these drugs for over-the-counter will reduce overdose deaths. By eliminating covert distribution and administration of drugs, HIV infections will fall as will hospital admissions for cellulitis and endocarditis. Billions of dollars and tens of thousands of lives will be saved.
Without the cruel and unwise policy of prohibition, fewer people will die because they won’t have to use unsafe means to get high. It’s literally the difference between choosing a simple Percocet tablet or a dirty heroin needle. Prohibition pushes people towards the dirty heroin needle.
For centuries, governments have been trying to protect the public by restricting the supply of opioids and with no positive results. They’re doing the same today by pressuring doctors, sending militarized police to bust down doors, and begging foreign regimes to execute people. Instead of saving people through prohibition they are spreading death and destruction.
Coercion is deadly and immoral. To help fight the ongoing opioid crisis, let’s try freedom.
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By Indri Schaelicke | United States
Since the passage of the 1970 Controlled Substances Act, the War on Drugs has destroyed countless lives. This campaign often oversteps constitutional restrictions to searches and seizures without warrants or probable cause. Worse than this, however, is the pain it inflicts upon families. For mere use of an illicit substance, the state takes people away from their loved ones.