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The availability of drugs

Drug availability, the economy and the criminal justice system all play a role in the issue of addiction

As long as drugs are available people will do them, but how do these drugs, both illegal and legal, become available to the public? Created by: Drew Vernon

The Supply and Demand of Drugs

Part of the drug addiction problem in America begins with drugs being manufactured, brought into the country and sold for use among citizens. Without a substantial supply of drugs, less people would be able to become users.

The war on drugs is impacting the world in several different ways. According to Vox, the war on drugs has created a black market that finances criminal operations. This is most prominently occurring in poor countries, where drugs are produced and trafficked to wealthier nations.

Every single day across the country and beyond, drugs are being moved from one place to another and eventually reach the consumer. While many drugs are manufactured right here in America, a lot of drugs are also coming from out of the country, primarily from Mexico, Central America and South America.

There are millions of people whose daily jobs are to transport drugs across border lines, either willingly or unwillingly. Some choose to engage in drug trafficking because the pay can oftentimes be much higher than a typical 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. day job. According to NBC News, the average payout for successfully smuggling drugs across the southwest border is $1,600.

Kevin Shird, a former drug dealer from Baltimore Maryland, who at one time was earning $20,000 a day in the drug business, explains how easy it can become to fall into a trap of drug dealing to make a living.

“The underground drug economy is huge in Baltimore. It employs a lot of people, it allows a lot of people to take care of themselves and support their family, and even build wealth,” Shird said. “How do you get rid of that? Right? For people that can’t find a job, for people that can’t find a way to support themselves, in their mind rationally or irrationally, what else can you do?”

Because the drug industry can be so profitable for many, leaving the business often becomes a challenge even if the desire to leave is there.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, as many as 1 and 4 people who receive prescription opioids long term for non-cancer pain in primary care settings struggles with addiction

“We are going to offer a guy a job making $12 an hour but he’s already making $10,000 a week,” Shird said. “If that’s the substitute, that’s not going to work.”

Deborah Motika, a trained medical technologist, explains that drugs are trafficked and sold between cities, states and countries in various ways.

“Sometimes they come in a truck load of some kind of pots or rugs,” Motika said.  “It’s hidden… there are all these incredibly unique ways to get drugs into the country.”

What is even more shocking and often not spoken about is that drugs are being smuggled into the country by what are called “mules.” A mule will take various drugs and put them in secure packaging and then the individual swallows them. It is typically known how long it’s going to take for them to then excrete it. If not, they are given a laxative once they reach their destination so they can deliver the drugs.

“Hundreds and hundreds of packages are brought into the country this way and it is known because sometimes something goes wrong,” Motika said. “A package ruptures and the person dies and during the autopsy a person is opened up and there’s a 100 packages of heroin in just one person’s stomach.”

Unfortunately, many times the people being used as mules are women and children who are abducted or forced to act as drug smugglers.

“Sometimes they [drug cartels] abduct young women and that’s their job, to ingest these drugs and travel and then excrete them,” Motika said. “Someone meets them at the airport, picks them up, collects the drugs.”

A solution must be found to the illegal business of drug dealing. Without one the problem will only continue to grow.

Written by: Emily Rowan

Many people take part in the illegal trafficking of drugs either willingly or unwillingly. Created by: Emily Rowan