Pop-up injection site co-ordinator Sarah Blyth with an overdose naloxone kit in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside in January 2018. (JOHN LEHMANN/For The Washington Post)

In July, the Canadian province of British Columbia experienced its fifth straight month with more than 100 overdose deaths — and its third above 170 lives lost.

Globally, the World Health Organization reports approximately 500,000 deaths from drugs, over 70 percent of them tied to opioids. In Canada, from January 2016 through December 2019, more than 15,000 people died from apparent opioid-related causes. In 2019 alone, there were over 21,000 “suspected opioid-related overdoses” across nine provinces and territories, excluding Quebec (for which data wasn’t provided). The opioid crisis clearly persists at home and abroad.

The covid-19 pandemic has further complicated existing challenges, including ensuring users have access to a safe supply, stigma-free communities and treatment programs, should they wish to access them.…  Seguir leyendo »

A written message is seen attached to a pair of shoes as part of a memorial for drug overdose victims in Vancouver on Aug. 31. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press, via AP)

This week, the Canadian province of British Columbia announced it would be tightening its covid-19 restrictions in response to a modest increase in deaths and infections. B.C.’s covid-19 numbers are among the lowest on earth, but health officials say an abundance of caution is still justified. The province’s nightclubs and banquet halls will close, while bars must shut down by 10 p.m. and quiet their music to limit spittle.

Such bossy demands, while hardly North America’s most draconian, stand in sharp contrast to the province’s generally passive approach to what is numerically a far more serious health crisis. May, June and July have been the worst months in B.C.…  Seguir leyendo »

Des hippies en 1971, à Berkeley (Californie).Photo Robert Altman. AKG-Images. Interfoto

Ibiza, Essaouira, Katmandou, Goa, mais aussi Barcelone, Amsterdam ou Berlin figurent parmi les rendez-vous mythiques des premiers beatniks, hippies et autres routards. Ces destinations se déclinent comme dans un catalogue d’agence de voyages… sauf que ce tourisme de masse est un peu particulier : c’est celui de la drogue. Les hauts lieux de ce circuit ont souvent fait sourire les initiés, car sous chaque nom de pays ou de ville se cachent un non-dit, un pied de nez pour la censure : la jamaïcaine, le libanais, le marocain ou l’Acapulco Gold sont toutes des variétés de cannabis.

L’imaginaire des drogues est forcément exotique pour les Occidentaux.…  Seguir leyendo »

I am Just a Middle-Aged House Dad Addicted to Pot

My name is Neal, and I’m a marijuana addict.

A year ago I wouldn’t have said that, because it would have meant giving up marijuana. I would rather have given up breathing.

When I had my first cup of coffee in the morning, I pressed the little button on my vape pen, waited for the blue glow, took a huge inhale and then blew it into the mug so that I could suck in the THC and caffeine at the same time. Then I took another hit, and another. In the afternoons, I’d smoke a bowl, or pop a gummy bear, or both.…  Seguir leyendo »

Siete voces que cuentan cómo superaron sus adicciones

Manos sucias que se aferran a las agujas ensangrentadas, mujeres embarazadas que se inyectan, niños angelicales con sus padres desplomados frente a ellos después de sufrir una sobredosis… las imágenes mediáticas de la crisis de opioides son despiadadamente atroces.

Por suerte, esa no es toda la historia. Cerca de dos millones de estadounidenses son adictos a los opioides. Sin embargo, muchos más han superado su adicción. Un gran estudio demográfico nacional reveló que casi todas las personas que alguna vez cumplieron con los criterios del trastorno de consumo de opioides alcanzaron la remisión en algún momento de su vida, y la mitad de ellos se recuperaron en un periodo de cinco años.…  Seguir leyendo »

A policeman in Manila investigates the scene where the body of an alleged drug user lies after being killed by unidentified assailants on 8 December 2017. Photo: Getty Images.

After winning a landslide victory in June 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines immediately fulfilled a campaign promise and instigated a so-called ‘war on drugs.’ He publicly endorsed the arrest and killing of suspected drug users and sellers, even going so far as to promise the police there would be no repercussions for their actions.

International human rights organizations, such as Human Rights Watch, have documented that 3,906 suspected drug users and dealers died at the hands of the police from 1 July 2016 to 26 September 2017 while unidentified gunmen have killed thousands more, bringing the total death toll to more than 12,000.…  Seguir leyendo »

A New Jersey woman who was questioned by police officers about possession of heroin. Credit Jessica Kourkounis for The New York Times

La guerra contra las drogas en Estados Unidos ha sido un fracaso que ha arruinado vidas, ha abarrotado las cárceles y ha costado una fortuna. Comenzó durante el gobierno de Nixon con la idea de que, dado que las drogas son malas para las personas, tiene que ser difícil conseguirlas. En consecuencia, se planteó una guerra contra el suministro.

Durante la epidemia del crack en la década de los ochenta, Nancy Reagan, la primera dama, trató de cambiar este enfoque. Sin embargo, su campaña para reducir la demanda, “Di no a las drogas”, tuvo un respaldo limitado.

El 25 de octubre de 1988, después de enfrentarse a las objeciones de una burocracia enfocada en el suministro de drogas, le dijo a una audiencia de las Naciones Unidas: “Si no podemos detener la demanda de drogas en Estados Unidos, habrá pocas esperanzas de evitar que los productores extranjeros satisfagan esa demanda.…  Seguir leyendo »

A New Jersey woman who was questioned by police officers about possession of heroin. Credit Jessica Kourkounis for The New York Times

The war on drugs in the United States has been a failure that has ruined lives, filled prisons and cost a fortune. It started during the Nixon administration with the idea that, because drugs are bad for people, they should be difficult to obtain. As a result, it became a war on supply.

As first lady during the crack epidemic, Nancy Reagan tried to change this approach in the 1980s. But her “Just Say No” campaign to reduce demand received limited support.

Over the objections of the supply-focused bureaucracy, she told a United Nations audience on Oct. 25, 1988: “If we cannot stem the American demand for drugs, then there will be little hope of preventing foreign drug producers from fulfilling that demand.…  Seguir leyendo »

Flaviano Villanueva, 47, entered the priesthood in his 30s after leading a fast life fueled by drugs and alcohol. So late last year, when a small-time drug dealer approached him in his rectory in one of Manila’s oldest districts, the Roman Catholic priest, recalling his own checkered past, could not turn her away.

“She was a member of a notorious gang that sells shabu in this area,” the priest told me recently, using the local term for crystal meth. “They were a gang of six. Four had already been killed. She came to me crying, ‘Father, can you hide me?’ ” She feared she might soon join the thousands of Filipinos who have been gunned down since President Rodrigo Duterte sanctioned the wanton killing of drug suspects.…  Seguir leyendo »

Soixante mille décès par overdose chaque année: c’est le bilan de la crise liée à la consommation d’opioïdes qui ravage aujourd’hui les Etats-Unis et le Canada. C’est quatre fois plus que les morts dans un accident de la route, et c’est maintenant la première cause de décès accidentels chez les hommes blancs. Deux phénomènes sont à l’origine de cette catastrophe: d’une part, depuis les années 1990, des prescriptions sans contrôle et encouragées par une partie de l’industrie pharmaceutique de médicaments pour soigner les douleurs, qui ont conduit de nombreuses personnes à devenir dépendantes des opioïdes; d’autre part, lorsque les contrôles ont été mis en place, l’arrivée d’une héroïne parfois très pure provenant du Mexique et celle de puissants opioïdes de synthèse en provenance de Chine.…  Seguir leyendo »

Crouched in the spiky terrain near this border city, a veteran smuggler known as Flaco points to the steel border fence and describes how he has taken drugs and people into the United States for more than three decades. His smuggling techniques include everything from throwing drugs over in gigantic catapults to hiding them in the engine cars of freight trains to making side tunnels off the cross-border sewage system.

When asked whether the border wall promised by President Trump will stop smugglers, he smiles. “This is never going to stop, neither the narco trafficking nor the illegals,” he says. “There will be more tunnels.…  Seguir leyendo »

Residents look on as a police investigator inspects the body of a suspected drug pusher, along an alley in Quezon city. Romeo Ranoco/Reuters

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has vowed to continue his “war on drugs” in spite of growing calls for an investigation into his role in it.

On March 6, the Philippine government lifted its suspension on police anti-drug operations. The suspension had been imposed in January following revelations that anti-drug police had kidnapped and killed a South Korean businessman.

Philippine National Police Director-General Ronald dela Rosa has christened this new phase of the drug war Project Double Barrel Alpha, Reloaded, and has said it will be “less bloody, if not bloodless” than that of the previous eight months.

That bloodshed is unquestionable: police and “unidentified gunmen” have killed more than 7,000 suspected drug users and drug dealers since July 2016.…  Seguir leyendo »

Solo hubo cinco muertos. Fue una noche tranquila.

Los reporteros del turno nocturno cuentan que así son los viernes. Los asesinatos han tomado un ritmo predecible en esta densa metrópolis de casi 13 millones de personas. Entre semana hay más ajetreo, generalmente hay una docena de cadáveres antes del amanecer. Un reportero me comentó que el récord era de 27 en una noche. Los fines de semana hay más calma, ya que los que cubren estos reportajes van a los velorios y funerales de las víctimas o dan seguimiento a testigos y otras fuentes.

Durante los ocho meses que lleva Rodrigo Duterte en la presidencia, los reportajes sobre la guerra contra las drogas han consternado al mundo y a Filipinas, aunque los partidarios del presidente dicen que las noticias son tendenciosas y que los asesinatos son necesarios.…  Seguir leyendo »

Un sospechoso de narcotráfico asesinado en octubre en el barrio de San Francisco del Monte en Ciudad Quezón, Filipinas Credit Daniel Berehulak para The New York Times

Only five people had turned up dead. It was a slow evening.

The journalists on the night shift say Fridays are like that. A predictable rhythm has developed to the killings in this dense metropolis of nearly 13 million. Weekdays are busier, often producing a dozen bodies before morning. One reporter told me the record was 27 one night. Weekends are more tranquil, which is when those who cover this beat attend wakes and funerals of victims, or follow up with witnesses and other sources.

In the eight months of Rodrigo Duterte’s presidency, reports on the drug war have caused concern around the world and in the Philippines, though the president’s supporters cast the news as biased and the killings as necessary.…  Seguir leyendo »

El presidente Rodrigo Duterte, a la izquierda, con el director de la Policía Nacional, Ronald Dela Rosa, en Manila durante una rueda de prensa, el 30 de enero. Credit Noel Celis/Agence France-Presse – Getty Images

Las drogas ilegales son un asunto de seguridad nacional, pero la guerra en su contra no se puede ganar nada más con las fuerzas armadas ni los organismos de justicia. Enviar más soldados y policías contra los consumidores de drogas no solo es una pérdida de dinero, sino que además puede empeorar el problema. Encerrar a los delincuentes no violentos y a los adictos casi siempre resulta contraproducente, ya que se acaba por fortalecer a la delincuencia organizada.

Tal es el mensaje que me gustaría enviar al mundo y, en especial, al presidente Rodrigo Duterte de Filipinas. Créame, aprendí a la mala.…  Seguir leyendo »

In Quezon City, Philippines, inmates sleep on a basketball court at Quezon City Jail, one of the country’s most congested jails on Oct. 19, 2016. Credit Daniel Berehulak for The New York Times.

Illegal drugs are a matter of national security, but the war against them cannot be won by armed forces and law enforcement agencies alone. Throwing more soldiers and police at the drug users is not just a waste of money but also can actually make the problem worse. Locking up nonviolent offenders and drug users almost always backfires, instead strengthening organized crime.

That is the message I would like to send to the world and, especially, to President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines. Trust me, I learned the hard way.

We Colombians know a thing or two about fighting drugs. Our country has long been one of the world’s primary suppliers of cocaine.…  Seguir leyendo »

‘Duterte has been accused of rabble-rousing populism, having inflated drug use statistics in his speeches.’ Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte holds a compilation of pictures of people involved in drugs. Photograph: Lean Daval Jr/Reuters

“You are corrupt to the core,” the Philippines’ president, Rodrigo Duterte, said to his own police force after announcing he would be indefinitely halting his controversial war on drugs to tackle endemic corruption within the Philippine national police.

This is following the death of South-Korean businessman, Jee Ick-joo, who was left strangled in the grounds of Camp Crame, the police force’s headquarters, after a bungled kidnap and interrogation attempt by anti-drugs officers.

The breather this reprieve is offering is a choice time to look at just how bad the Philippines’ drug problem is, especially after Duterte has been accused of rabble-rousing populism, having inflated drug use statistics in his speeches, almost doubling the number of Filipino users from 1.8 to 3 million.…  Seguir leyendo »

L'Iran utilise la lutte contrel a drogue comme un moyen d'oppression contre les minorités du pays. Ici, l'ayatollah Ali Khamenei. — © AFP/HO

La République islamique d’Iran utilise la drogue comme véritable «variable d’ajustement» de sa politique de contrôle et de répression de ses minorités ethniques, sous couvert de lutter contre ce problème récurrent.

Chaque fois que le régime se sent menacé, à l’intérieur comme à l’extérieur, la loi sur la drogue est renforcée et on pend quelques centaines de prisonniers triés sur le volet, en priorité parmi les opposants politiques. Selon l’ONU, en 2015, chaque jour, l’Iran a exécuté 3 personnes en lien avec la drogue au mépris de tous les standards internationaux de lutte efficace et raisonnée contre ce fléau. Cela signifie que certains pays occidentaux cautionnent malgré eux ces exécutions par le biais du financement des projets de l’UNODC (agence onusienne contre la drogue en Iran), devenant des alliés objectifs de cette politique de répression ethnique déguisée.…  Seguir leyendo »

Todavía recuerdo una conversación que tuve hace más de 25 años cuando era un joven médico y recién comenzaba mi trabajo con pacientes con dificultades con las drogas y el alcohol. «¿Sabe qué, doc?», me dijo un paciente. «Emborracharse o consumir heroína se siente como el abrazo de mamá».

Desde entonces he escuchado innumerables variaciones sobre ese tema, que me han resultado conmovedoras y fascinantes. Pero mi capacitación me había enseñado a no hacer ciencia con anécdotas. Así que dejé lo que mis pacientes me decían en el compartimiento susceptible y sentimental de mi mente. Después, volví al laboratorio y a los cerebros de ratas en los que esperaba encontrar ayuda para resolver problemas de salud mental.…  Seguir leyendo »

El 19 de abril del próximo año, los países de Naciones Unidas celebrarán una sesión especial en Nueva York para debatir el futuro de la política mundial en materia de droga. El pistoletazo de salida de las negociaciones gubernamentales para la cumbre se dio la semana pasada en una reunión de la Comisión de Estupefacientes en Viena.

La última vez que se celebró un acontecimiento de esta importancia, en 1998, la reunión estuvo dominada por la estrategia del Gobierno de Estados Unidos, aún consistente en la llamada guerra contra las drogas concebida por Richard Nixon en 1971. Los Estados miembros congregados, en un acto que hoy podemos considerar de engañosa ilusión colectiva, se comprometieron solemnemente a alcanzar el objetivo de “un mundo libre de drogas en 2008”.…  Seguir leyendo »