The New Heroin

The New Heroin
Posted by FoM on November 17, 2001 at 21:06:54 PT
By Bill Picture of The Examiner Staff
Source: San Francisco Examiner
San Francisco drug experts fear that a new, deadly wave of Afghan heroin believed to be headed for The City could hold devastating consequences for addicts here.  The U.S. State Department last month reported that the Taliban is selling off vast quantities of potent opium and that the resulting pure strain of heroin is headed for American cities. The massive stockpile of narcotics could hit San Francisco late this winter or next spring. 
If it does, it could spell disaster for a city already in the throes of a heroin epidemic.  More available heroin will mean an immediate and drastic drop in the street price of the drug, health officials and treatment providers say. They warn this will translate to more emergency-room visits for addicts and more overdose deaths, which already account for nearly a third of all premature deaths in San Francisco each year.  "The cheaper the heroin, the more inherent danger we see of overdoses," warns Bryan Oley of DanceSafe, a national nonprofit organization offering harm-reduction services.  World law enforcment agencies say the Taliban is releasing tons of opium through intricate drug-smuggling webs traversing Central Asia, the Baltic states and the former Soviet republics. The stockpiles are the product of huge bumper crops stored before the Taliban cut back on opium production June.  But now the Taliban is in need of money to buy weapons to fight a guerrilla war against allied forces that include most of the Western countries struggling with large-scale heroin addiction, including the United States.  The product of their opium stash, called "Heroin No. 4" by international drug police, is a white powder that is 80 percent pure, according to recent reports in The Economist.  The flood of cheap, high quality heroin may be on its way to a city that Darryl Burton of The City's Department of Public Health calls "already overwhelmed by heroin addiction."  San Francisco is feeling the social impact of heroin addiction now. The "walking dead," as addicts are sometimes referred to, are fixtures roaming many of The City's streets. Their visibly desperate, gaunt figures haunt pockets of the Haight, Tenderloin, mid-Market and Mission, which have been seemingly transformed over the years by a crippling combination of drugs, alcohol and poverty.   Local residents complain the location of treatment-service providers in those areas makes them virtual havens for addicts. And added to their lure is the ease with which junkies can get lost among the rest of The City's down-and-out.  Robert Potter, a three-year resident of the Haight, says he's noticed more young addicts in his neighborhood lately. "I usually step over them on my way to work every morning. This whole neighborhood changes when the sun goes down and the tourists leave. You'll see kids talking to themselves or nodding off on the street or on the bus, tracks up and down their arms.   "It's creepy."  Heroin is not a recreational drug, and for most users, not a social one. Its sedative and euphoric effects, and especially the symptoms of drug withdrawal, make leading any semblance of a normal life impossible for most users. As use continues, tolerance increases and so does the amount of heroin needed to attain the same high. Heroin itself becomes a lifestyle and life, an endless cycle of scoring and using to feed an ever-growing hunger.  The arrival of the Taliban's heroin will make it even worse.  "For sure, the amount addicts would use would increase," says Greg Hayner, chief pharmacist for the substance-abuse division of the Haight Ashbury Free Medical Clinic, one of a handful of private agencies in San Francisco offering services to addicts.  Hayner and other providers fear the arrival of stronger and even cheaper heroin will wreak havoc on agencies like HAFMC, whose services are already stretched to the limit.   Hayner says there has been a shortage of treatment slots for some time now and that at any one time, there are at least a thousand people in San Francisco waiting to receive drug treatment. These agencies simply do not have the available resources to handle the increased demand for their services that might accompany the drug's arrival.  Even before the new Afghan heroin hits The City, local government, law enforcement and treatment-service providers have been unable to make more than a small dent in San Francisco's growing heroin problem, due in large part to the ongoing influx of cheap, black tar heroin from Mexico, which currently plagues San Francisco and the rest of the western United States.  This crude, tar-like substance, or "chiva," as it's often referred to, is deadly potent. Its lower purity means it has to be "run" or injected.   The "china white" or powder form of the drug that East Coast junkies enjoy comes from Southeast and Southwest Asia.   While purity varies, that of the powder form tends to be higher, meaning it can be snorted, smoked or injected. It's the virtual Beluga of heroin, and exponentially more dangerous, health experts say.  Curious drug-takers who would otherwise be turned off by the very thought of mainlining heroin can smoke or snort the powder form and thus avoid both the social stigma attached to intravenous drug use as well as the chance of contracting syringe-borne diseases.   As funding from local, state and federal sources dwindles, treatment providers are finding themselves having to depend more and more on private donations. Now Gov. Gray Davis is calling for further cuts in state spending, and according to Hayner, social welfare programs like his "usually fare poorly in such a situation."  Hayner believes the only thing The City can really do is increase treatment capacity. But he concedes that this is "a dicey proposition with a projected $100 million shortfall in The City's budget."Source: San Francisco Examiner (CA)Author: Bill Picture of The Examiner StaffPublished: November 17, 2001Copyright: 2001 San Francisco Examiner Contact: letters Website: Related Articles& Web Site:DanceSafe Trade Resurgent in Afghanistan Ban on Growing of Opium Is Unraveling Repeats as U.S. Finds Unlikely Allies
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Comment #1 posted by Lehder on November 18, 2001 at 04:58:37 PT
They said the restrictions became worse after the Bush
administration took over this year. The intelligence agencies had been told to "back off" from investigations involving other members of the Bin Laden family, the Saudi royals, and possible Saudi links to the acquisition of nuclear weapons by Pakistan.,4273,4293682,00.htmlYoung George also received fees as director of a subsidiary of Carlyle Corporation, a little-known private company which in just a few years of its founding has become one of America's biggest defence contractors, and his father, Bush Senior, is also a paid adviser, the program said. And it became embarrassing when it was revealed that the bin Ladens held a stake in Carlyle, sold just after September 11, it added. The program said it had been told by a highly-placed source in a US intelligence agency that there had always been "constraints" on investigating Saudis, but under President Bush it had become much worse. After the elections, the intelligence agencies were told
to "back off" from investigating the bin Laden family and the Saudi royals, and that angered field agents, the
program added. The policy was reversed after September 11, it reported. The program was told by FBI headquarters that it could not comment on its findings. A spokesman reportedly said: "There are lots of things that only the intelligence community knows and that no one else ought to know." connections:
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