global opium cultivation — which is used to make heroin — has dropped 13 percent overall, to 657 tons.
…heroin use remains solid in Europe. Consumption is particularly strong in Western countries such as the United Kingdom, Italy and France, and as demand for both heroin and cocaine has grown within those nations…
So a drop of 13 percent in opium cultivation only pulls the figure down to 657 tons. Well that’s a relief.
The statistic about the alarmingly high usage in (Western) Europe is particularly interesting. What does it mean? What are the implications of this figure? Does it have anything to do with the histories of these European countries? Does it have anything to do with the political makeup of these countries?
It has become my belief after studying history and political science in University that most countries, since the inception of countries (arguably in the 17th century, after the Peace of Westphalia), loosely follow a linear progress. Generally speaking, most countries begin as dictatorships. Some move quickly on to become monarchs and/or theocracies and / or empires. Then, usually through a period of violent struggles, these countries become democracies.
If one were to attribute the birth of the nation state to Europe (most specifically, Western Europe), then one could argue that these European nations have been on this line of historical progress the longest. As we can see, most of the Western European countries now have centuries-old democracies, some of which came as a result of the masses overthrowing monarchs (most notably Great Britain and France). Other democracies were born after extended periods of often violent struggles, some involving the toppling of empires, others involving a battle of ideologies (ex. Italy and Russia, although Russia did not become a so-called democracy until the late 20th century).
(Note that this line of historical ‘progress’ that I’ve outlined does not refer to it being ‘good’ or ‘bad’, because that would stir up a whole other debate about how ‘great’ the countries are, and bring into question the merits of democracy. The ‘progress’ in my context simply refers to the evolution countries undertake over time.)
With this in mind, let us look the non-European countries that are potentially ‘next in line’, or have already followed, this historical line of progress: India, China, Iran, and various African nations. The article shows that these countries all have heroin consumption rates of 5-15%.
If these countries do follow the line of progress as those of Western Europe, does this mean that heroin use in these countries will increase in the future?
The key question here is: what is the correlation between the politics of a country and its population’s drug addiction problems? Britain, France, and other Western European countries now have functioning welfare-state style social democracies. Some of these countries pride themselves on this fact. It would be quite devastating if there is a relationship between the political structure of a country (more specifically, social democracy) and its drug problems.
But alas, it is nonetheless good news that opium production is down. Now if only we can ameliorate the drug problems in some of the oldest democracies in the world…
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost