I wrote blog posts some time back about the Case-Deaton study of the rising death rate in the 21st century among middle-aged white people without college educations—a strange trend because the death rate continues to fall for all other demographic groups and also for Europeans.
I also reviewed a book, Dreamland, about over-prescription of optoid drugs and how this has led to a heroin epidemic specifically among white people. I didn’t make the obvious connection with the Case-Deaton study.
A blogger who calls himself Lambert Strether pointed out that the body count from opioid overdoses approaches the number deaths from AIDS. If you think of opioid overdose as a disease, the vector of the spread is not a microbe and not unsafe sex, but the marketing strategies of certain drug companies—especially Purdue Pharma, manufacturer of OxyContin.
I accept that there are deeper reasons for the rise in drug abuse than the unethical marketing of one drug by one company. Purdue Pharma would not have been so successful if there hadn’t been a big potential demand for its product. I still think drug prohibition hasn’t worked, just as alcohol prohibition didn’t work and gun prohibition wouldn’t work.
This is another question for which I don’t have good answers. What do you think?
Genocide by Prescription: The ‘Natural History’ of the Declining White Working Class in America by James Petras and Robin Eastman Abaya [added 7/14/2016]
Credentialism and Corruption: The Opioid Epidemic and the Looting Professional Class by Lambert Strether for naked capitalism. Very much worth reading.
Poison Pill by Mike Mariani for Pacific Standard.
Drug abuse and suicide: Why death rates have spiked among middle-aged white Americans, an interview of Angus Deaton, one of the authors of the study, by Christina Cauterucci for Slate.
Opioid Addiction 2016 Facts & Figures by the American Society of Addiction Medicine.