Is Rising US Prescription Drug Abuse Creating the Market for Mexican Drug Gangs?
Prescription drug abuse continues to rise in the US even as cocaine use falls, according to a recent news article. Mexican drug cartels may continue to manipulate this problem to their advantage in the near future in order to offset their cocaine losses as that market dwindles.
Since 2006, the US National Survey on Drugs says there was almost a 40 percent decrease in those using cocaine above the age of 12. With this drop in regular cocaine users, the cartels wasted no time taking advantage of the need for prescription drugs in the US.
Mexico’s drug trafficking cartels are considered to be responsible for nearly 95 percent of the US cocaine supply and since less is coming across the border this was causing them major financial losses.
Considering cocaine has typically been the top income source for these drug cartels, the new trend with prescription drug use may have huge financial implications for them. With rising prescription painkiller abuse this may offset the decline for cocaine traffickers as they move toward this newer, more lucrative industry.
A recent NY Times report claimed one healthcare consultant estimates $8.5 billion in prescription painkillers were sold last year which is nearly double the amount in 2001. This does not mean the drug users are switching from one drug to the other either.
Reuters explains that the populations for both drugs are entirely different. Prescription drug users represent a broad spectrum whereas cocaine users are narrower when it comes to demographics.
Reuters believes it is entirely likely the drug gangs may offset their income loss from illegal drugs and instead exploit people’s dependence on prescription painkillers, especially if the US begins to crack down on this problem.