The International Network of People who Use Drugs (INPUD) is a global peer-based organization that seeks to promote the health and defend the rights of people who use drugs. In a statement released today, INPUD dubs today, July 21, a day to “remember our community members, our loved ones, our friends, and our family members who have died as a result of the so-called war on drugs.”
“People who use drugs are dying in increasing numbers,” the statement continues. “There are more than 200,000 drug-related deaths a year. Overdose deaths contribute to between a third and a half of all drug-related deaths. Last year, in the United States alone, overdose deaths exceeded 59,000. Overdose is the principal cause of death of North Americans younger than fifty years old. Not cancer; not heart attack or stroke; not vehicular accidents. Overdose. Avoidable overdose.”
Prohibition gives rise to a black market in which the composition and purity of drugs are unknown and cannot be determined. It is due to prohibition that people are overdosing and dying in record numbers when taking drugs they had not intended to use.
INPUD points to the fact that “[t]he vast majority of those who have died in the last several years have overdosed as a result of mistakenly taking fentanyl or carfentanil instead of heroin and other opiates, with these newer, far stronger drugs increasingly being consumed due to the unregulated drug market under prohibition.” In response to this fact, DanceSafe is now offering fentanyl testing strips for purchase that identify most fentanyl and fentanyl-related analogues in drugs purchased on the black market.
INPUC also correctly notes that most of these drug-related deaths are preventable with appropriate harm reduction methods in place, including access to Naloxone, safe injection facilities, and drug testing facilities.
“Today more than ever, the outcomes of [the drug] war are painfully clear: this is a war on the lives of people who use drugs,” states INPUD. “It is a war that results in pointless deaths, a war that results in people dying when their lives could easily have been saved, a war that results in people dying when their lives should have never even been at risk. Each of these deaths is a needless death. We are not collateral damage of a pointless, moralistic war; we are people: we have the right to life.”