West Virginia is at the heart of the U.S. opioid epidemic, with the state having the highest rate of opioid overdose deaths in the country. With drug abuse and addiction being two main pillars of her “Be Best” campaign, it’s not surprising to learn that first lady Melania Trump visited the state this Monday.
During her visit, the first lady talked to state and local leaders to learn more about how local resources are being used to help residents. While this isn’t her first visit to the state to discuss the opioid problem, as she visited Lily’s Place, the infant recovery center helping families dealing with addiction, this might be an important trip policy wise, as she might learn some important details about the crisis from people actually living it. But what exactly should locals be telling her so that she could actually help potential victims?
Drug Prohibition Is Why We Have an Opioid Epidemic
When the drug war started to take roots in America with the Harrison Narcotic Act of 1914, drug sellers started to take to the black market to provide consumers with their desired goods. Unfortunately, as the federal government implemented more laws targeting drug use and commerce, the black market expanded.
Unfortunately, in a setting where drug suppliers are not constrained by product liability law and other factors that are often present in the legal drug market, drugs become more powerful — and lethal. And thanks in part to government’s interventionist policies, which end up creating virtual monopolies in the drug and medical industries, licensed doctors are compelled to write a great number of opioid prescriptions. Without real competitors in the drug market, as opioid manufacturers have patents that prevent others from developing similar products, doctors have fewer options.
With patients suffering greatly due to the highly addictive nature of these drugs, they are left with very few options once their treatment is over. Going to the black market is one of them.
As the demand for opioids grows, the potency starts to change depending on the batch. And as more users go to dealers for help, many either lose access to certain substances or begin to switch to more dangerous substitute ingredients such as Fentanyl, to boost their profits.
For the most part, this is how we got the current opioid epidemic.
If Mrs. Trump could take this knowledge back to the White House, she could compel President Donald Trump to become an advocate for less harsh drug policies. Additionally, she could even convince the president that drug patent legislation should also be addressed. After all, government-backed monopolies have proven deadly in this case.