Opium Infographics – Afghan Opium Supplying US “Counterfeit” Narcotics Market?

United Nations Office on Drugs & Crime (UNODC) 2010 Drug Report – Opium Infographics
Is Afghan Opium fueling the US Narcotics Market? According to official sources, it is not.

In 2009, Afghanistan controlled the production of over 90% of the world’s total opium supply.  The official reports suggest that none of that opium makes it into the United States and is bound for destinations in Russia, Asia, Europe and Africa.  Instead, the United States is supposedly supplied by “Mexican” sources, but often times, reports only focus the Heroin originating in this region.  Not only is it possibe, but it is highly probable that a significant portion of Afghanistan’s annual opium crop does, in fact, make it to the US via trade routes crossing into Africa, South America and then Mexico.

At some point, it could be processed into heroin, but recent data, which goes mostly un-addressed in the UN report, shows that America’s interest in Opioids doesn’t involve heroin as much as it does prescription narcotic painkillers.  Is it possible that a percentage of Afghan Opium is finding it way to this market?  This is not implausible:  In 2007,  there was a proposal in the European Union by a international think tank named Senlis Council to legally divert Afghan opium to the prescription narcotics market.

The route to accomplish this in the American market would be circuitous, but in our free-market system, supply must meet demand.  According to some reported statistics, Americans account for over 80% of the world’s TOTAL non-counterfeit “opioid” prescription-narcotic use. If absolutely NO afghan opium is imported into the US, what other source can supply 80% of the worlds ‘legal’ opium derivative? (I have not been able to find this information)  From the data below, it appears as though opium/processed opiates ARE  flowing in the direction of the United States, but as we approach the borders, data collection seems to stop.  Since this is a UN report and prescription narcotic abuse is mainly a US problem, I’ve included some graphics from other domestic Drug Control reports. (See below gallery)

The following were extracted from UNODC 2010 Drug Report for use to better facilitate research on opium trade and markets.  Accuracy of data comes down to methodology of data collection, interpretation and political skewing.  When looking at the big picture of opiate use world wide and in the United States specifically, there is a lot of data that is either left out or ignored.

Prescription Narcotic (Opioid) Use/Abuse Data (US)

From January 2008 President’s Office of Drug Control Policy Report

Clearly indicating that prescription narcotic pain killers have found their way into the US-mainstream is the above chart showing that of the total NEW drug-users, just as many chose to start off using pain relievers as marijuana, the traditional starting-point for most teens.

Data Source: Drug Abuse Warning Network

Emergency room visits for treatment for narcotic pain killer overdose has been steadily rising for over a decade with a noticeable spike in the same years as notable spikes were seen in opium production in Afghanistan.

Some Internet pharmacies, including some based in Mexico and Canada, distribute counterfeits of popular brand-name pharmaceuticals that often contain inactive ingredients, incorrect ingredients, or improper dosages. According to FBI, most counterfeit pharmaceuticals are produced in India and China, and in some countries counterfeit pharmaceuticals are quite prevalent. In fact, FBI reporting indicates that as much as 60 percent of the pharmaceuticals sold in China, Nigeria, Thailand, Cambodia, and Indonesia are counterfeit. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reports that the level of counterfeit drug distribution within the United States is very low compared with other countries; however, occurrences of counterfeit pharmaceutical distribution in the United States are increasing. As a result, FDA counterfeit drug investigations have increased from 6 in 1997 to 58 in 2004.

While this shows that the FDA is reacting to a growing problem, it cannot completely illuminate the prevalence of counterfeit narcotics in the United States.  Overseas, counterfeit narcotic operations have been supplying heroin’s acceptable cousin for over a decade, often times to impoverished populations in need of affordable pain relief.  On the other hand, many Americans embrace a culture of wanton excess and live in a world where prescription narcotics exist for pleasure first, purpose later.  And as many enterprising citizens of the world have discovered, there’s profit in pleasure.

Sources:
http://www.theantidrug.com/pdfs/prescription_report.pdf
http://www.justice.gov/ndic/pubs11/12620/pharma.htm#Figure 54

http://www.justice.gov/ndic/pubs11/12620/d-links.htm#Figure 51
http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/ucm172951.htm
https://dawninfo.samhsa.gov/data/default.asp?met=All

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