It is not an opioid crisis! The changes we seek are not about a class of drug. This about prohibition & racist drug policy that justifies its existence by punishing people already suffering under the conditions it has created; its a weapon of the structures that must be unmade.
That’s why this is structural violence. It’s not drugs: people are dying from drug policy.
Drug policy is an expression of state power, and COVID amplifies.
But it is NOT an opioid crisis in every possible sense! Let me explain…
Category Error: these deaths were caused by prohibition & criminalization & are all drug policy-related. we can stop these deaths by regulating drugs & addressing this social disaster directly with housing for all, liveable incomes, medicine (Safe Supply), and ways to get out of this cycle. This is not about a class of drugs. this is about drug policy, and this is what happens when a policy becomes detached from the reality it was intended to address, and reforms are attempted by people who have no idea what is going on.
Last year, a huge number of people – around SEVEN THOUSAND – died in canada because the drugs they consumed were produced for an unregulated market. all the supply chains were disrupted by covid and maybe the government should have bailed out the illicit economy too. these disruptions led to dramatic changes in the composition of the supply (btw the drug supply in Ontario is distinct from that in BC and Alberta, clearly from completely different sources. who knows re: prairies, no drug checking), and not ONE big change. its been inconsistent since March, which is the problem. if you use down, and you get a product that is mostly benzos for a few weeks, and then the opioid returns, your tolerance will have decreased and why am i telling you this, you’re dead.
To return to this “stimulant-related deaths” bullshit – a made-up category suddenly introduced LAST MONTH by Health Canada – and “what bullshit is this” i said at the time: because this is a serious and intentional misrepresentation and reframing of the crisis formerly known as the “opioid crisis” by the federal government, a retcon: a BRAND NEW CATEGORY of a cause of death by a category of drugs, invented in 2020, but killing since … 2018? what? so the numbers for “opioid overdoses” went down but this new category was added and what’s really being measured here, when
and its even acknowledged that this is the case:
“Data on apparent opioid toxicity deaths and stimulant toxicity de aths are not mutually exclusive. A high proportion of deaths involving a stimulant also involved an opioid. Adding up those numbers would result in an overestimation of the burden of opioids and stimulants.”Apparent Opioid- and Stimulant-related deaths, PHAC 2020
We all know that the feature shared by these killer opioids and stimulants is that theyre prohibited substances that are available on the unregulated market – but placing these into separate categories misses the point. its not the drug, its drug policy.
There is some irony in calling these Controlled Drugs and Substances.
It’s not this drug or that: its prohibition. Not only is it true that people use more than one drug (ie people mix), this is the illicit market, NOBODY KNOWS WHAT THEY’RE PUTTING IN THEIR BODY so every drug user is a polysubstance user.
so the distinction between classes of drug is false. drugs is drugs and dead is dead. this distinction makes the data – the count of our dead – meaningless. and wrong.
So don’t call it an opioid crisis. Call it a Social Massacre, or a Poisoning Emergency, or a Mass Execution by Poison. Start setting your own terms.