Here at The Ring of Fire, we have covered several aspects of America’s opioid crisis, including its costs to society and how Big Pharma has been profiting – as well as its legislative efforts to keep cannabis (an effective treatment for opioid addiction) illegal. However, there is one cost that has not been widely covered in the media, yet has grave implications for all of us: the destruction of rainforests.
The phenomenon has been labeled “narco-deforestation.” The term describes the wholesale destruction of rainforest habitats in Central and South America as drug traffickers dealing in heroin (chemically, virtually indistinguishable from prescription opioids) clear the land of trees in order to create their bases of operation and provide transportation routes for their products.
It has been fueled in large part by failed U.S. drug policy, which has focused on punishing buyers rather than going after suppliers and their infrastructure. However, the growing demand for opioids has also caused a surge in rainforest habitat destruction. Because heroin is easier to obtain than its prescription cousins (and usually less expensive), drug cartels have been working overtime in regions such as Guatemala and the Amazon River Basin to meet this lucrative demand.