By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Heroin addiction is a growing national epidemic. US Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) contends that the lack of border enforcement at the U.S. border is contributing to the heroin problem.
Senator Sessions questioned the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy Michael Botticelli, on the issue on Wednesday, January 27, in a Senate hearing.
Sen. Sessions asked, “Mr. Botticelli, you’re supposed to set drug policy for America. You’re what they used to call the drug czar. Do you agree that reduced price, high purity, and increased accessibility of heroin are the major drivers of the recent increase in rates of heroin use?”
The Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Michael Botticelli replied, “I would actually agree that the availability of very cheap, very pure heroin in the United States, as well as untreated addiction, has significantly increased heroin use rates in the United States.”
Sen. Sessions said “Well, I think that’s a good answer…and the lack of enforcement at the border is a big part of this…We can impact supply—heroin at low prices and high purity on the streets [is] dangerous, and prosecutions are critical to this. People need to go to jail who are pushing this kind of addictive power into our communities and destroying lives and families.”
Heroin abuse has been climbing exponentially. According to the CDC, 5,927 Americans died from heroin in 2012. That number jumped to 8,260 in 2013. 10,574 American deaths were attributed to heroin overdose in 2014 (final 2015 numbers are not yet available). 47,055 Americans died from all drug overdoses in 2015, a number much higher than the numbers killed by guns or in traffic accidents. A growing number of Americans have been prescribed pain killers for a variety of reasons, many of them for very real needs. They get addicted to the prescription drugs and then, when they can’t get their drugs legally, go to the illegal market. They get in a bind and heroin is cheap and plentiful on the illegal market so is easier and cheaper to get. They try heroin and then are hooked.
Sen. Jeff Sessions has argued for much stronger border enforcement including a wall for years. These pleas have been largely ignored by the elites of both political parties. Both New York City businessman Donald Trump and Senator Ted Cruz have borrowed elements of Sessions’ border enforcement plans in their own plans.
Sen. Sessions was first elected to the US Senate in 1996 after serving as Alabama Attorney General, Chairman of the Alabama Republican Party, and as US Attorney for North Alabama under President Ronald Reagan (R).