White opioids: Pharmaceutical race and the war on drugs that wasn’t
- 1.4k Downloads
The US ‘War on Drugs’ has had a profound role in reinforcing racial hierarchies. Although Black Americans are no more likely than Whites to use illicit drugs, they are 6–10 times more likely to be incarcerated for drug offenses. Meanwhile, a very different system for responding to the drug use of Whites has emerged. This article uses the recent history of White opioids – the synthetic opiates such as OxyContin® that gained notoriety starting in the 1990s in connection with epidemic prescription medication abuse among White, suburban and rural Americans and Suboxone® that came on the market as an addiction treatment in the 2000s – to show how American drug policy is racialized, using the lesser known lens of decriminalized White drugs. Examining four ‘technologies of whiteness’ (neuroscience, pharmaceutical technology, legislative innovation and marketing), we trace a separate system for categorizing and disciplining drug use among Whites. This less examined ‘White drug war’ has carved out a less punitive, clinical realm for Whites where their drug use is decriminalized, treated primarily as a biomedical disease, and where their whiteness is preserved, leaving intact more punitive systems that govern the drug use of people of color.
Keywordsaddiction whiteness prescription opioids heroin
The authors wish to acknowledge Sonia Mendoza, Laura Duncan, Alyson Kaplan, and Danae DiRocco for their help with media analysis for this paper, as well as the helpful comments of David Herzberg, Donna Murch and Jessie Daniels on an earlier draft of this paper, and the useful suggestions of three anonymous reviewers. This paper was supported by a U.S. National Institute of Drug Abuse K01 award (to Hansen), as well as a Robert Wood Johnson Health & Society Scholars Program Fellowship and a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Investigator Award (to Hansen).
- Adler, J. (2003) In the grip of a deeper pain. Newsweek, 20 October, p. 48.Google Scholar
- Alexander, M. (2010) The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. New York: The New Press.Google Scholar
- Allen, T.W. (1994) The Invention of the White Race. London: Verso.Google Scholar
- Bigg, M. (2007) Report says U.S. jails more blacks than whites for drugs. Reuters, 4 December, http://www.reuters.com/article/2007/12/05/us-usa-drugs-race-idUSN0453686820071205.
- Bourgois, P. and Schonberg, J. (2009) Righteous Dopefiend. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
- Campbell, N. (2000) Using Women: Gender, Drug Policy, and Social Justice. Oxford: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
- Centers for Disease Control (CDC) (2014) Prescription Drug Overdose in the United States: Fact Sheet, http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/overdose/facts.html, accessed 15 December 2015.
- CESAR FAX (2012) Suboxone® sales estimated to reach $1.4 billion in 2012 – more than Viagara® or Adderall®. CESAR FAX, Center for Substance Abuse Research, University of Maryland, College Park, 10 December, Vol. 21, Issue 49.Google Scholar
- CNN (2003) Limbaugh admits addiction to pain medication, http://www.cnn.com/2003/SHOWBIZ/10/10/rush.limbaugh/, accessed 15 December 2015.
- Congressional Record (1999) Hearing before the Subcommittee on Health and Environment of the Committee in Commerce, House of Representatives. Congressional Record – House (106th Congress 1st Session): 1–23.Google Scholar
- Congressional Record (2000) Drug Addiction Treatment Act of 2000. Congressional Record – Senate (106th Congress): S9111.Google Scholar
- Congressional Record (1999a) Drug Addiction Treatment Act of 1999. Congressional Record – Senate (106th Congress): S1089-S1093.Google Scholar
- Courtwright, D. (2001) Dark Paradise: A History of Opiate Addiction in America. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Courtwright, D. (2001) In: V.P. Dole, M.E. Nyswander and M. Jeanne Kreek (eds.) Dark Paradise: Opiate Addiction in America Before 1940. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Daniels, J. (1997) White Lies. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Daniels, J. and Schulz, A.J. (2006) Whiteness and the construction of health disparities. In: L. Mullings and A.J. Schulz (eds.) Gender, Race, Class, and Health. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, pp. 89–127.Google Scholar
- Daniels, J. (2013) Whiteness and Health in Transnational Context: Toward a New Research Agenda. Paper for the American Sociological Association Annual Meeting. New York.Google Scholar
- Davis, M., Varga, D., Dickerson, D., Walsh, D., Le Grand, S.B. and Lagman, R. (2003) Normal-release and controlled-release oxycodone: Pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and controversy. Support Care Cancer 11(2): 84–92.Google Scholar
- DEA (undated) National Take Back Initiative, http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback/, accessed 18 February 2013.
- Dole, V.P. and Nyswander, M. (1966) Study of methadone as an adjunct in rehabilitation of heroin addicts. Illinois Medical Journal 130(4): 487–489.Google Scholar
- Dumit, J. (2004) Picturing Personhood: Brain Scans and Biomedical Identity. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
- Eban, K. (2011) OxyContin: Purdue Pharma’s painful medicine. CNN Money, 9 November, http://features.blogs.fortune.cnn.com/2011/11/09/OxyContin-purdue-pharma/.
- Feagin, J.R. (2010) The White Racial Frame: Centuries of Framing and Counter-Framing. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Feagin, J.R. (2012) White Party, White Government: Race, Class, and U.S. Politics. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Fine, M., Weis, L., Pruitt, L.P. and Burns, A. (1996) Off White: Readings on Race, Power and Society. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Fletcher, P. (2011) Arrests mark U.S. prescription drug abuse crackdown. Reuters 28 October, http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/10/28/us-usa-drugs-florida-idUSTRE79R60F20111028.
- Frankenberg, R. (1993) White Women, Race Matters: The Social Construction of Whiteness. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
- Goode, E. (2013) Incarceration rates for blacks dropped, report shows. New York Times, 27 February, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/28/us/incarceration-rates-for-blacks-dropped-report-shows.html.
- Hansen, H., Siegel, C., Bertollo, D., Case, B., DiRocco, D. and Galanter, M. (2013) Variation in use of buprenorphine and methadone treatment by racial, ethnic and income characteristics of residential social areas in New York city. Journal of Behavioral Health Services and Research 40(3): 367–377.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Hart, C. (2013) High Price – A Neuroscientist’s Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Society. New York: Harper Collins.Google Scholar
- Herzberg, D. (2013) But the wife must have these to live a decent life: Sedatives, stimulants, and the other drug war of the 1970s. Paper Presented at Challenging Punishment; 3 October, Rutgers University, New Jersey.Google Scholar
- Jones, C.P. et al (2008) Using “socially assigned race” to probe white advantages in health status. Ethnicity & Disease 18(4): 496–504.Google Scholar
- Katz Rothman, B. (2001) The Book of Life. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
- Leonardo, Z. (2009) Race, Whiteness and Education. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Linnemann, T. and Wall, T. (2013) ‘This is your face on meth’: The punitive spectacle of ‘white trash’ in the rural war on drugs. Theoretical Criminology 17(3): 315–334.Google Scholar
- Lipsitz, G. (2006 ) The Possessive Investment in Whiteness. Revised Edition Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press.Google Scholar
- Lopez, I.H. (2006) White By Law: The Legal Construction of Race. New York: NYU Press.Google Scholar
- Lovell, A. (2006) Addiction markets: The case of high dose buprenorphine in France. In: A. Petryna, A. Lakoff and A. Kleinman (eds.) Global Pharmaceuticals: Ethics, Markets and Practices. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
- Manchikanti, L. (2007) National drug control policy and prescription drug abuse: Facts and fallacies. Pain Physician 10(3): 399–424.Google Scholar
- Musto, D. (1999) The American Disease: Origins of Narcotic Control. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Naabt.org. (2014) Mike’s Story. The National Alliance of Advocates for Buprenorphine Treatment. https://www.naabt.org/mike/, accessed 15 December 2015.
- Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) (2011) Minorities & drugs: Facts & figures. Office of National Drug Control Policy, http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov/drugfact/minorities/minorities_ff.html, accessed 15 December 2015.
- Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) (2013) Fact Sheet: Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs. April 2011, http://www.whitehouse.gov/ondcp/prescription-drug-abuse, accessed 13 February 2013.
- Roberts, D. (2011) Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-Create Race in the Twenty-First Century. New York: New Press.Google Scholar
- Roediger, D. (2007) The Wages of Whiteness. 2nd edn. London: Verso.Google Scholar
- SAMHSA (2010) Results from the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Volume I. Summary of National Findings Rockville, MD: Office of Applied Studies.Google Scholar
- SAMHSA (2015) Buprenorphine. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, http://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment/treatment/buprenorphine, accessed 15 December 2015.
- Santos, A. (2012) Trafficking and abuse trends for prescription drugsPresentation by Alan G. Santos, Associate Deputy and Assistant Administrator, DEA Office of Diversion Control, at the Pharmacy Diversion Awareness Conference; 2–3 June, Atlanta, GA.Google Scholar
- Schwartz, Y. (2012) Painkiller use breeds new face of heroin addiction. NBC News 19 June, http://dailynightly.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/06/19/12303942-painkiller-use-breeds-new-face-of-heroin-addiction?lite.
- Scotti, R. and Kronenberg, S. (2001) Symposium: U.S. drug laws: The new jim crow?: Foreword. Temple Political & Civil Rights Law Review 10: 303–310.Google Scholar
- Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act (2010) One Hundred Eleventh Congress of the United States of America.Google Scholar
- Seppala, M. (2010) Prescription Pain Killers: History, Pharmacology and Treatment. Center City, MN: Hazelden Publishing & Educational Services.Google Scholar
- Silverman, E. (2012) Reckitt’s Suboxone Strategy Is Really About Patients Or Profits? Forbes Magazine, http://www.forbes.com/sites/edsilverman/2012/10/12/reckitts-suboxone-strategy-is-really-about-patients-or-profits/, accessed 15 December 2015.
- Silverman, A. and Voas, J. (1994) Opiate for the Mrs. Pheonix. New Times News, 8 September.Google Scholar
- Singer, M. (2008) Drugging the Poor: Legal and Illegal Drug Industries and the Structuring of Social Inequality. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press.Google Scholar
- Smith, D. (2005) Eliminating disparities in treatment and the struggle to end segregation. The Commonwealth Fund, http://www.commonwealthfund.org/~/media/Files/Publications/Fund%20Report/2005/Aug/Eliminating%20Disparities%20in%20Treatment%20and%20the%20Struggle%20to%20End%20Segregation/775_Smith_ending_disparities_in_treatment%20pdf.pdf, accessed 15 December 2015.
- Solinger, R. (2013) Wake Up Little Susie: Single Pregnancy and Race Before Roe v. Wade (Kindle Locations 5990–5991). Kindle Edition Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
- Stanton, A., McLeod, C., Luckey, B., Kissin, W. and Sonnefeld, L.J. (2006) Expanding treatment of opioid dependence: Initial physician and patient experiences with the adoption of buprenorphine, www.buprenorphine.samhsa.gov/ASAM_06_Final_Results.pdf, accessed 10 March 2010.
- Steiner, B.D. and Argothy, V. (2001) White addiction: Racial inequality, racial ideology, and the war on drugs. Temple Political & Civil Rights Law Review 10: 443–475.Google Scholar
- Tough, P. (2001) The alchemy of OxyContin. New York Times, 29 July, http://www.nytimes.com/2001/07/29/magazine/the-alchemy-of-OxyContin.html?src=pm.
- Toombs, J.D. and Kral, L.A. (2005) Methadone treatment for pain states. Am Fam Physician 71(7): 1353–1358.Google Scholar
- Ung, E. (2001a) For those who need painkiller, stigma hurts: A drug’s stigma hurts those in need. The Philadelphia Inquirer, 4 September, p. A01.Google Scholar
- Ung, E. (2001b) In neighborhoods, mourning the lives lost to a legal drug. The Philadelphia Inquirer, 31 July, p. A01.Google Scholar
- U.S. Census Bureau (2009) Law enforcement, courts, & prisons: Arrests, http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/cats/law_enforcement_courts_prisons/arrests.html, accessed 18 February 2013.
- Volkow, N. (2014) America’s addiction to opioids: Heroin and prescription drug abuse. Testimony to Congress presented on 14 May, http://www.drugabuse.gov/about-nida/legislative-activities/testimony-to-congress/2014/americas-addiction-to-opioids-heroin-prescription-drug-abuse.
- White, W. (1998) Slaying the Dragon: The History of Addiction Treatment and Recovery in America. Bloomington, IL: Chestnut Health Systems/Lighthouse Institute.Google Scholar
- Zuberi, T. and Bonilla-Silva, E. (eds.) (2008) White Logic, White Methods: Racism and Methodology. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.Google Scholar