Opium has been around for over a millennium, known in classical civilizations for its healing properties. In the 1800s opium was widely used; opium (then it was in the form of morphine) was used for everything from leg cramps to tuberculosis. By the 1900s they were again widely prescribed for all kinds of pain control. By 1996, Oxycontin had come to the market2 and swept over the world in ways the world never expected or saw coming. Doctors claimed that this was a form of pain management that wasn’t as addictive as other pain forms have been. Come to find out it was the opposite of that. “Oxycontin is different than some of the older, classic opioid pain prescription medications. Oxycontin is pure oxycodone… Oxycodone is extremely potent”2 It seems as though through history, people have tried to control pain with opioids through nonaddictive ways, every time has ended with suffering and addiction. The end result has most recently been heroin, and the effects of it are seen worldwide. Someone dies from an opioid overdose every 11 minutes, and in the United States alone, opium use has ended more lives than gun violence. Worldwide, it has ended more lives than the Vietnam war.
Opium has an enormous trade network worldwide, and not many signs are pointing to it slowing down. “Global opium production increased by 65% in 2017 alone.” Most of the opium comes out of Afghanistan.3 One of the massive places that has been affected by opium, (in the form of heroin), is east Africa, more specifically Kenya. Stuck in a bad system, the crisis is in a critical state. Suppliers make a significant amount of money when selling heroin, compared to if they were to work a legal job. Taking this risk is worth it to these people who live in impoverished places. The addicts are suffering and living in these outdoor “graveyards”3 most of the time hopeless and feeling like they’re stuck in the trap of heroin. With this increasing problem, and no signs of slowing down, this problem is critical and needs to be addressed.
In the United States, Oxycontin was introduced in 1996, and was marketed deliberately towards doctors to prescribe. Once doctors started widely prescribing this drug, this pill did the rest. As the government and doctors started to realize this pill was extremely addictive, they started to regulate and cut back prescribing this drug. When the pill was harder to get, and pricier, addicts turned to heroin which was much cheaper, and easier to find. “It’s the same thing, just a different version”2 The effects of heroin, much like East Africa, are harmful and destructive. Because heroin is so potent and addictive, healing and coming clean from it is extremely difficult and painful. Coming clean from an addiction from any form of opioids is hard and takes lots of steps.
Overall, the opioid crisis is booming and taking a lot of lives as it continues. Opium in all forms leads to the same story and ending every time, and this is seen around the world. Pain, suffering and sometimes death, are the end results of opium. With no sign of slowing down, and not having it under control anywhere in the world, it is important to bring to light and awareness of the current climate we are facing.
Norn Svend, Kruse Poul R, Kruse Edith, “History of opium poppy and morphine”, PubMed, accessed November 4, 2021. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17152761/
Amaryllis Fox, Yasmin Hurd, Rodrigo Canales Business of drugs:Opium. (July 14, 2020), http://www.netflix.com
Amaryllis Fox, Yasmin Hurd, Rodrigo Canales Business of drugs: Heroin. (July 14, 2020), http://www.netflix.com
Van Zee Art, “The Promotion and Marketing of OxyContin: Commercial Triumph, Public Health Tragedy”, PMC, February, 2009, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2622774/
 Svend Norn, Poul R Kruse, Edith Kruse, “History of opium poppy and morphine”, PubMed, accessed November 4, 2021. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17152761/
 Business of drugs: Opium. Directed by Amaryllis Fox, Yasmin Hurd, Rodrigo Canales.(July 14, 2020), http://www.netflix.com.
 Business of drugs: Heroin. Directed by Amaryllis Fox, Yasmin Hurd, Rodrigo Canales.(July 14, 2020), http://www.netflix.com.
Art Van Zee, “The Promotion and Marketing of OxyContin: Commercial Triumph, Public Health Tragedy”, PMC, February, 2009, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2622774/