Study Shows 90% Of New Heroin Users Are White Americans
Heroin is no longer the drug of choice for poor Blacks. According to recent studies, 90% of new heroin users are white Americans.
Salon has documented the crisis and looks in depth as the justice system changes to appease this new face of heroin.
90 percent of new heroin users are white, following what one expert calls the “heroin prep school” of prescription opiates. In America, heroin used to be linked to the “inner city,” with all the socioeconomic and racial implications that suggests. As heroin addiction has taken on a whiter, richer face, it’s become a cuddlier drug, one more likely to be responded to with help instead of force. Frontline follows different treatment approaches with a few different addicts in “Chasing Heroin,” as well as interviewing dozens of scientists, policymakers, and social workers.
And the documentary extracts admissions from top policymakers of how race has altered our perception of heroin. In a startling scene from the documentary, Frontline correspondent Martin Smith, who is white, asks Attorney General Eric Holder, “Not to be too glib, but isn’t [the new public health response to addiction] because a lot of white kids are doing heroin?” Holder, who is the first African-American attorney general, struggles to be diplomatic. Smith presses him further. “Richard Pryor said, you know, famously—about cocaine—that it’s an epidemic now ‘cause white people are doin’ it.” Holder responds, “There’s an element of truth to that.”
Heroin use has now become an epidemic and national problem because white folks are doing?
The documentary also interviews the director of the Centers for Disease Control, Tom Frieden, and a former senior White House advisor on drug policy, Keith Humphreys, who explain how deliberately they chose to start using the word “epidemic” around heroin abuse, a term that was quickly picked up by the media. Humphreys points out that politcians pay more attention to drugs when they begin to affect the white middle class. “It’s not fair, and it’s not right, but that’s the kinda country that we’re living in.” Public health lawyer Scott Burris adds, “Stereotypes turn out to be so very important to people’s attitudes towards drug use, and the war on drugs, and drug users.”
So, the war on drugs takes a friendlier stance when white kids are involved? Discuss.