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Center for Policy Studies
Public Affairs Discussion Group

Why Is There a Heroin Epidemic?

Lee Hoffer, Ph.D. - Associate Professor of Anthropology at Case Western Reserve University
Friday March 4, 2016
12:30-1:30 p.m.
Dampeer Room
Kelvin Smith Library
Case Western Reserve University

Dear Colleagues:

Heroin use has increased across the U.S. among men and women, most age groups, and all income levels. Some of the greatest increases occurred in demographic groups with historically low rates of heroin use: women, the privately insured, and people with higher incomes. Not only are people using heroin, they are also abusing multiple other substances, especially cocaine and prescription opioid painkillers. As heroin use has increased, so have heroin-related overdose deaths.(see chart) Between 2002 and 2013, the rate of heroin-related overdose deaths nearly quadrupled."

So reports the CDC, which also reports 10,574 heroin deaths in 2014. We know a few things about the epidemic: it is related to a massive increase in prescription of opioids and to the larger number of deaths from prescription opioid overdose (18,893 in 2014). The increase in those deaths slowed around 2009, seemingly replaced by the explosion in deaths from heroin. But Lee Hoffer can offer much more understanding of the dynamics of rising heroin use, from the psychosocial dynamics of users and communities to the economics of drug markets.

All best regards,
Joe White
Luxenberg Family Professor of Public Policy and Director, Center for Policy Studies

About Our Guest

Lee Hoffer’s research focuses on understanding the political, social, cultural, and clinical contexts related to illicit drug use. This work has informed a range of topics, including; HIV risk behaviors of drug injectors, diagnostic nosology for substance use disorders, understanding trends in drug use, as well as drug policy and intervention studies. More recently, Dr. Hoffer’s research examines how illicit drug markets, and the acquisition of drugs, influences users behaviors and negative health outcomes. In 2000, Dr. Hoffer conducted an eighteen month ethnographic case-study of a heroin dealing network in Denver, Colorado. This fieldwork focused on the dealer’s business operations; transactions with customers; the interaction between addiction and drug acquisition; social and economic exchange relationships; as well as, characterizing the history of the local heroin market.

This research is detailed in his book Junkie Business: the Evolution and Operation of a Heroin Dealing Network (Thompson-Wadsworth Press, 2006). His ongoing research involves synthesizing agent-based computational modeling techniques and ethnographic research to develop new tools for policymakers and researchers. Borrowing from theories of Complexity Systems, these projects seek to connect the rich descriptive detail offered by anthropology with the epidemiology of drug abuse.

Where We Meet

The Friday Public Affairs Lunch convenes each Friday when classes are in session, from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Our programs are open to all and no registration is required. We usually meet in the Dampeer Room of Kelvin Smith Library. The Dampeer Room is on the second floor of the library. If you get off the elevators, turn right, pass the first bank of tables, and turn right again. Occasionally we need to use a different room; that will always be announced in the weekly e-mails.

Parking Possibilities

The most convenient parking is the lot underneath Severance Hall. We regret that it is not free. From that lot there is an elevator up to street level (labeled as for the Thwing Center); it is less than 50 yards from that exit to the library entrance. You can get from the Severance garage to the library without going outside. Near the entry gates - just to the right if you were driving out - there is a door into a corridor. Walk down the corridor and there will be another door. Beyond that door you'll find the entrance to an elevator which goes up to an entrance right inside the doors to Kelvin Smith Library.

Schedule of Friday Lunch Upcoming Topics and Speakers:

March 11: Spring Break

March 18: E-Cigarettes: Problem or Solution? With Scott H. Frank MD MS, Associate Professor and Director, Master of Public Health Program, and Director of Health for the City of Shaker Heights.

March 25: Hosting the Super B**l of Politics. With Brittany Williams, Senior Project Manager, Cleveland 2016 Host Committee.

April 1: The Obama Administration and the Future of U.S. Manufacturing. With Susan Helper, Frank Tracy Carlton Professor of Economics and, former Chief Economist, U.S. Department of Commerce.

April 8: Citizenship in a Divided America. With Mary Romero, Professor of Justice Studies and Social Inquiry, Arizona State University. Cosponsored by Academic Careers in Engineering and Science (ACES) program. Room to be determined.

April 15: Money, Happiness, and Redistribution. With David Clingingsmith, Associate Professor of Economics. ***Alternate Location: Baker-Nord Center, Room 206, Clark Hall***

April 22: Germany, Asylum and the Future of Europe. With Kenneth F. Ledford, Associate Professor of History and Law and Chair, Department of History at Case Western Reserve University.
February 29, 2016

If you would like to reply, submit items for inclusion, or not receive this weekly e-mail please send a notice to:

Upcoming Events

Foreign Policy and the 2016 Election

A Global Currents lecture discussion with James M. Lindsay, Ph.D. - Senior Vice President, Director of Studies, and Maurice R. Greenberg Chair, Council on Foreign Relations, Monday March 14, 2016, 4:30-6:00 p.m. This program is made possible by the generosity of Ms. Eloise Briskin and sponsored by the Center for Policy Studies. Refreshments will be provided.

2015 was a tumultuous year for world politics. China built islands in the South China Sea and devalued its currency. Nations struck a deal on climate change and Iran's nuclear program. The EU rebuffed Greece's demands for austerity relief, faced a wave of refugees and was struck by ISIS terrorism. Russia intervened in Syria and Saudi Arabia in Yemen. Then there was North Korea…

2016 may not even have as much good news. How will world affairs influence the U.S. election, what challenges will the next president face, and how is U.S. policy likely to differ depending on who wins?

Jim Lindsay combines rare expertise on international issues, the U.S. foreign policy process, and electoral politics. His own research has covered topics from the George W. Bush revolution in foreign policy to how Congress influenced nuclear weapons policy, and he tracks events in his blog, The Water's Edge. Join us for a wide-ranging review and discussion.

March 2016







































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