Illicit drug use is hardly a new problem. For decades, drugs like cocaine, heroin, and marijuana have been abused by people, but recent studies suggest that as of late, these black market drugs have become even more potent and less expensive than they ever were.
Illegal Substances and the War on Drugs
The findings that these dangerous drugs have become more potent and less expensive is troubling news, especially when it is viewed in terms of the amount of time, money, and other resources that have been devoted to seizing drugs and removing them from the black market. Over the past few decades, countless raids have been conducted on drug dealers and their suppliers, which have taken large volumes of illicit drugs off of the market. This should, ostensibly have raised the price of illegal drugs, as removing drugs from the market should have lowered supply and thus increased demand. It is possible, however, that while drugs have in fact been removed from the black market, drug dealers are cropping up at unprecedented rates. This may be due in part to the fact that the economy in countries where drug production is rampant remains highly unstable, leading a growing number of individuals to attempt to make money in drug production. This increase in drug production may also account for the fact that drugs have become stronger, as manufacturers may be facing mounting pressure to offer more potent drugs in order to remain competitive.
A Global Phenomena
The degree to which drugs have become more potent and less expensive is surprising in terms of sheer numbers and how widespread this problem seems to be. Based on tests conducted in seized drugs, heroin has become 60% more pure, cocaine 11%, and marijuana a whopping 160%. The consumer costs of these drugs, when inflation and level of potency is considered, has fallen an alarming 80%. In Australia and Europe, prices fell only slightly less, at around 50%.
What Does this Mean for the Future of Addiction Management?
Lower prices and higher potency are troubling because drugs have become more accessible to a wider variety of people, especially young or low income people who, unfortunately are at a higher risk for not receiving the help they need for addiction. More potent drugs can also mean that a user becomes addicted much more quickly, or that they are at a higher risk for overdose after consuming less of a drug. Because of these increased risks, it is now more important than ever that parents, loved ones, and, ideally, addicts themselves become more aware of the dangers of addiction. If a parent suspects that their child is using drugs, they should take all necessary action to find treatment for their child. Loved ones of adult addicts should be acutely aware of the dangers surrounding the potent drugs that are currently in the marketplace and should speak with their loved one about their addiction. The most effective way to recover from addiction is with professional support, and, as drugs become more potent, it becomes more and more important to undergo the process of detox with the assistance of medical professionals.
What Will Cause This Trend to Reverse?
Because it is difficult to conclusively tell why exactly prices have fallen and potency has increased, there does not seem to be a clear solution when it comes to finding ways to decrease potency and allow prices to rise. Unfortunately, drug production and distribution are international problems that will likely require highly complex and well thought out solutions. The one solution that does seem to be available, however, is to help curb the amount of people who begin using illicit drugs in the first place.
Cindy Nichols is the founder of 411 Intervention, a full-service intervention resource that helps individuals with addiction issues find treatment solutions. You can see an interview with Cindy here on Recovery Now TV.