Pubdate: Wed, 20 May 2009
Source: Palm Beach Post, The (FL)
Copyright: 2009 The Palm Beach Post
Author: Andrew Abramson, Palm Beach Staff Writer
Bookmark: (Heroin)
Bookmark: (McCaffrey, Barry)


PALM BEACH GARDENS -- Destroy opium plants, or U.S. soldiers will
continue to abuse heroin and terrorism will continue to thrive in

That's the message from former U.S. drug czar, Gen. Barry McCaffrey,
who was Wednesday's keynote speaker at a conference for the National
Association of Addiction Treatment Providers at PGA National Resort.

McCaffrey, a retired four-star general who served as the nation's drug
czar under President Clinton, believes that drug abuse among soldiers
has doubled in the last four years.

As the United States shifts its war from Iraq to Afghanistan,
McCaffrey fears that heroin use will continue to rise.

"I know there are 9,000 metric tons of opium raised every year in
Afghanistan, and I'd be astonished if we don't see soldiers who find
10 kilograms of heroin and pack it up in a birthday cake and send it
home to their mother with a note that says, 'Don't open this package
until I'm home,'" McCaffrey said. "That's one thing that's going to

"The second thing is (soldiers) are going to stick it up their nose
and like it."

McCaffrey believes the solution is to eradicate opium plants in
Afghanistan. Opium production, he said, is directly linked to the Taliban.

"If you don't separate opium production money from the terrorism
problem, the warlords, the criminals, you can't build a nation-state
in Afghanistan, period," he said.

McCaffrey's speech focused on national health care reform, and the
need for drug treatment to be a major part of it.

"Health care reform is going to happen in the next 24 months,"
McCaffrey said.

"There are 24 million Americans who are chronic substance abusers, but
less than 4 million now get treatment. Right here in this state, 1.5
million Floridians lack treatment."

McCaffrey said he doesn't support the legalization of marijuana, and
he doesn't want to stop funding the war on drugs.

However, he said it's crucial to rehabilitate and treat drug users,
including those abusers in prison.

"What the chamber of commerce will have you have believe is that it's
only poor people abusing drugs," McCaffrey said. "Well it's also
anesthesiologists, ICU nurses, healthcare providers.

"It's the single biggest problem in America." 
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