I read a fascinating article about heroin dealers from Mexico who deal the US. The drug problem is of epic proportions. At first I couldn't understand why - but three things became clear -
1 - the cost of heroin is cheaper than the cost of perscription drugs for pain. (the article is not clear here - it says 'on the street' which may mean that the doctor has told the patient to stop, but he is intent on getting more pain killers illegally, and buys them from dealers on the street.)
"Investigators say that Arthur E. was not alone in switching from a prescription painkiller to heroin. It gives a similar, euphoric high at a fraction of the cost, $10 to $20 for a “balloon” — one dose, usually a gram or less — as opposed to upwards of $60 for a typical prescription pill dose on the street."
2 - and doctors seem to perscribe these pain-killers as if thery were, well, candy (in France, reports say that perscription medicine addiction is completely out of hand, for example - and yet doctors love to perscribe them. Question - do doctors get kick-backs from pharmaceutical companies?). "When Arthur E. injured his back in a car accident in 2005, he started taking prescription medication, Percocet and OxyContin, for chronic pain, under a doctor’s supervision. His brother, Rob E. said he had been taking similar medications after he broke his arm on the job as a maintenance worker at a golf course. Soon, all three brothers were acquiring OxyContin illegally and sharing it. When supplies dried up and their dealer suggested heroin, they tried it and quickly developed an addiction."
The drugs come from Mexico but the US is responsible for the rise in power of the drug cartel because... "it is American drug consumers who fuel demand and American guns smuggled into Mexico that are used by the drug gangs." (NY Times article comment)
Three years ago, the Mexican president moved to crack down on the drug cartels. Since then, 10,000 people, most of them innocent, have died in a vicious war that pits police and investigators against well-armed drug dealers.
It's a tangled web made of the cost of drugs, the facility to obtain high-powered weapons, and especially, the huge discrepency between the average salary of a Mexican and an American, a poverty ascerbated by the fact that in this day and age, everyone can turn on the TV and see the ease and comfort Americans live in. Mexicans intent on getting jobs and caring for their families in a fragile economy are easy pickings for drug cartels.
I suppose that if wages were evened out between the US and Mexico, there would be far less poverty in Mexico and less people tempted to risk life and limb to sell drugs. If gun controls were stricter, less guns would end up in the cartel's hands, and Mexican police could control the problem with more ease. If perscription drugs were cheaper, and if doctors were more careful how they perscribed them, less people would be hooked from the start, and they wouldn't turn to illegal venus to get them. And if, if, if all this were true... maybe poor Arthur E. would still be alive.