By Donna Gregory Burch.
The U.S. government loves to play the blame game. According to officials, the rise in the use of heroin and the increase in deaths due to drug overdoses are the direct result of the so-called “opioid crisis.” A few days ago, President Donald Trump announced the problem has become so great that it’s a “national emergency.”
The irony is that while the government keeps pressuring physicians to stop prescribing opioids for chronic pain, they are concurrently turning a blind eye to the ever-growing poppy industry in Afghanistan that has flooded American streets with heroin in recent years.
No, this isn’t some conspiracy theory, and no, it’s not fake news. Our government’s complacency (or its intentional participation, depending on who you ask) in the heroin trade has been documented by numerous sources in both the mainstream and alternative media. In fact, our military even guards the poppy fields. Don’t believe it? Then watch this video.
A May 2012 article from the New York Times (NYT) reads, “In the Zhare district of Kandahar Province, ground zero for the Obama administration’s troop surge in 2010, poppy was everywhere as the harvest approached this year. It encircled the American and Afghan army outposts that dot the landscape. It grew knee-high in fields owned by members of village militias raised by American forces to fight off the Taliban.”
In this same article, the NYT reports how Zhare’s governor pleaded with military forces to destroy local poppy crops.
“Going after it, it just pokes the beehive,” said Maj. Gen. James L. Huggins Jr., the commander of NATO forces in southern Afghanistan. The United States and its allies prefer to focus on interdiction at the trafficking stage of the trade,” read the NYT article.
Well, if that’s indeed true, they are failing miserably - but more on that later! First, a little history…
Afghanistan’s poppy production accounts for more than 90 percent of all heroin worldwide, according to National Public Radio. Most people would probably assume the Taliban is solely responsible for Afghanistan’s biggest cash crop, but the truth is much darker and more complicated. The U.S. occupation of Afghanistan has directly led to a surge in poppy production, and subsequently, to a rise in heroin addiction and deaths in our nation.
Statistics from the United Nations back this up: In 2000, prior to the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, the Taliban banned poppy cultivation for religious reasons. In fact, they were so successful at decimating the poppy crop that production dropped from 202,000 acres in 2000 to 19,000 acres the following year - a 90 percent decrease!
The U.S. military invaded Afghanistan in fall 2001 following the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. By the end of 2002, poppy production rebounded to 182,000 acres, and is now more than double that. Last year, the United Nations reported 496,000 acres were cultivated - all while U.S. forces continue to occupy Afghanistan. How is that possible? And why is it being allowed to happen?
During the same general time frame, from 2002 to 2012, heroin abuse in the United States has doubled. Is that a coincidence? Are prescription opioids truly to blame for this “crisis” when our own government has at best purposely ignored the poppy industry in Afghanistan, and at worse, actually participated in it?
And yet, our federal officials continue to blame prescription opioids for this “epidemic” of drug overdoses. Well, I call BS. It is the highest level of hypocrisy to demonize prescription opioids and the people who use them responsibly while at the same time supporting the illegal drug trade that’s fueling the “crisis” in the first place.
Donna Gregory Burch was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2014 after several years of unexplained pain, fatigue and other symptoms. She was later diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease. Donna covers news, treatments, research and practical tips for living better with fibromyalgia and Lyme on her blog, FedUpwithFatigue.com. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter. Donna is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared online and in newspapers and magazines throughout Virginia, Delaware and Pennsylvania. She lives in Delaware with her husband and their many fur babies.