Subject: Drug Czar McCaffrey Says Drug Threat To U.S. Is Changing
The nation's leading figure in the war on drugs believes the enemy is switching uniforms. Retired Army General Barry McCaffrey, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, sees the cocaine threat giving way to another old nemesis: methamphetamines.
McCaffrey says that while 1.4 million Americans remain addicted to cocaine, he sees cocaine use in a dramatic decline. "If you look over the last 15 years, it's come down by 75 percent ... from six million (users) down to 1.4 million," McCaffrey said. "Our guess is 15 years from now, it won't be the principal drug threat to America. But that won't help if it's replaced by methamphetamines ... prohypnol and other boutique drugs."
Methamphetamines, while hardly a new class of drugs, are quickly becoming the drug of choice, McCaffrey says, in certain parts of the U.S. "It's the drug threat to America now in Arizona, Southern California, San Francisco and a lot of the rural Midwest," McCaffrey said. "We just designated a high-intensity drug area in the Midwest to confront ... Indiana, Missouri, Kansas, where methamphetamine abuse is a real nightmare."
McCaffrey said a principal reason for the downturn in cocaine use is probably that young people have seen what it can do. "A lot of young folks have seen the impact of crack and don't want any part of it," McCaffrey said. "But they don't have the same sensitivity to heroin ... high-purity heroin that's now showing up in America or new drugs like methamphetamines."
He lamented one of the heroin epidemic's latest high-profile victims, fashion photographer Davide Sorrenti, who died of an overdose last February at age 20. A New York Times article indicates that the fashion industry, which has for some time glamorized the strung-out look of heroin addiction, now admits the approach is wrong.
"That New York Times article about the tragic death of Mr. Sorrenti really blows a wake-up call to the advertising industry," McCaffrey said. "We can't glamorize heroin addiction in America ... the Cadillac of illegal drugs, with its tremendous impact on human health, on crime rates ... 14,000 dead a year in America from drug abuse ... You've got to have in music, in entertainment, in film and fashion a consistent message that says drug abuse is destructive to the human spirit."
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