AG Sessions: Creating a Culture Hostile on Drug Abuse

Attorney General Jeff Sessions vows to crack down on healthcare fraud and opiate scams.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions vows to crack down on healthcare fraud and opiate scams.

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced earlier this month that the U.S. Justice Department will be focusing on “healthcare fraud and opioid scams” by implementing a pilot program which would send federal prosecutors across cities most affected by addiction and overdoses.

Further, he and President Trump spoke about reviving the “Just Say No” campaign, a strategy which sends the message that drugs are bad in hopes it’ll be a deterrent to taking illicit substances. It’s a move rebuked by many, including addictions specialist Dr Gabor Mate, who said we need to get to the root of substance abuse to effectively deal with the current opioid epidemic in the U.S.

Here’s the question: Could this move exacerbate an already national drugs crisis?

Sessions Takes a Stand Against Legalized Marijuana

Sessions made the announcement in Ohio – where eight people die every day from drug overdoses.

Despite these sad deaths, the success of proven treatments and the reduction of hospitalization rates in places where medical marijuana has been legalized, he’s still a vocal opponent.

Researchers from the University of California San Diego found between 1997 to 2014, hospitalization rates of people suffering from opiate dependency dropped 23 percent in states with access to legal medical marijuana. A further study showed ninety-two percent of people prefer cannabis over opioids for pain relief, and the rate of marijuana-related hospitalizations has been largely unaffected by its legalization.

In spite of this research, Sessions insists there’s “more violence around marijuana than one would think.” In the article, Sessions stated that smoking pot is “an unhealthy practice” and should be punished like heroin and cocaine use. In a statement regarding legalized marijuana, the Attorney General made his view crystal clear:

“In recent years, some of the government officials in our country have mistakenly sent mixed messages about the harmfulness of drugs. So let me say: We cannot capitulate intellectually or morally unto this kind of rampant drug abuse. We must create a culture that’s hostile to drug abuse.”

Democratic officials remain skeptical. If Republicans succeed in repealing the Affordable Care Act, “it will likely make the opioid epidemic worse,” DNC spokeswoman Mandy McClure told the Washington Post.

Creating a Culture of Criminality

This aggressive tactic could have potentially damaging effects to federal prisons by increasing overcrowding with inmates serving longer sentences. Criminal justice advocates say, “Such tactics could unravel the work of Obama which sought to tackle excessive jailing, focusing instead on rehabilitation. Hence, legalizing marijuana.”

According to Sessions, the opioid fraud and abuse detection unit will use data analytics to uncover pill mills and “focus specifically on opioid-related healthcare fraud using data to identify and prosecute key individuals that are contributing to this opioid epidemic.”

He went on to send a message of caution to both doctors and pharmacists who, he claimed, are “letting these pills walk out the door and onto the streets”. He warned, “We are coming after you.”

A Different Perspective

In opposition of such tactics, physician and author Dr. Gabor Maté proposes, “We need to change the conversation from deterrents and prosecution to provide an effective response to the crisis. Dissuading people from taking drugs and treating addictive behavior isn’t the answer – if it was, why do we have an epidemic that’s only increasing year on year? Understanding and addressing the emotional pain and adverse conditions at the root of addiction would be significantly more effective.”

What do you think about Attorney General Sessions’ proposed initiatives? How do you think his approach will help or harm the opioid crisis? How will it impact drug abuse in our nation as a whole? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Additional Reading:   Changing Our Perspective on the Opioid Crisis


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What Are Your Thoughts on this Topic?

  • Mike Haynes

    The only thing that making it harder to get prescription pain meds is going to do is make people that truly need them and addicts too turn to doing heroin. Which will be so much worse, because you cannot control the strength of heroin like you can prescription medications. So this will just cause opiate related overdoses to skyrocket. How about maybe trying to actually offer people that don’t have health insurance and can’t afford it and opportunity to actually be able to get real treatment instead of locking them up, which only makes their situations worse, which in turn just makes them want to turn to drugs even more to cover up all of the emotional pain of all of their failures in life. All of these politicians that have never been through things like this in their lives should not be allowed to make decisions like this. They should actually go around and ask addicts and recovering addicts for suggestions on how to help other addicts and then put all of the suggestions to a nationwide vote. Or at least just use a little bit of common sense and not try to make people that are already struggling’s lives worse. That is just plain stupidity. And as for the legalization of marijuana, I believe that it would help with stopping the rise of opiate addiction tremendously. I know of several people that have said that they couldn’t have ever stopped using heroin without the medicinal use of marijuana!!!