Suboxone: Chemical Warfare on the Oppressed
In 2017, MIM(Prisons) published Under Lock & Key #59 (ULK) which focused on the impact drugs have on the prison movement. ULK #59 was particularly significant to our cause, given the fact that drugs play a central role in preventing the lumpen from developing into a revolutionary force inside U.$. prisons. As various comrades attested to in that issue, drugs are poisons that eat away any potential unity of the oppressed, by fostering violence amongst the imprisoned lumpen, and the bourgeoisification of those involved in the trade. Also, discussed in ULK #59 was the scourge of the synthetic cannibinoid K2 and the rise of opioid use in prisons at the time. Since then, another opioid has gained popularity behind prison walls, mostly because of its availability; Suboxone.
In 2020, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation(CDCR) introduced Suboxone to its 33 prisons as part of its Integrated Substance Use Disorder Treatment(ISUDT). Suboxone is a medication used to treat opioid addiction, specifically in the detox and withdrawal stages of care. According to the San Quentin News, “ISUDT is touted as the largest in-prison medically assisted treatment program in the nation.”(1) CDCR credits Suboxone with a sharp decline in overdose deaths in its prisons since its introduction. But is there more than meets the eye to this apparent miracle drug?
What is Suboxone?
Suboxone is a combination medication containing buprenorphine and naloxone.(2) Suboxone is derived from opium, and was supposedly intended to be a less addictive alternative to methodone, morphine, and oxycodone.(3) Though viewed as a safe alternative to other drugs, Suboxone can still be deadly when taken intravenously or in combination with other drugs and alcohol. Other side effects are:
* cardiac arrhythmia* irregular blood pressure* respiratory issues* liver and kidney problems* constipation* urinary retention* sweating* short term memory issues* difficulty thinking clearly and focusing* impaired coordination* headache* nausea and vomiting* sedation (4)
Where Did Suboxone Come From?
Suboxone was developed in the 1970s by Reckitt Benckiser, a Briti$h company at the behest of the Amerikan government. At the time, the United $tates was searching for a “less addictive” alternative for patients with opioid use disorder. After Suboxone was created, Reckitt Benckiser shipped the drug to the United $tates narcotic farm in Lexington, Kentucky to be tested on detoxified addicts. The farm was also a prison and treatment facility as well as the site of the U.$. government’s Addiction Research Center.
It was at the Addiction Research Center that the government discovered just how addictive Suboxone could be, yet it was still marketed as a useful tool to combat addiction. Originally the doctors prescribing the drug had to hold special licenses and undergo special training. However, the government loosened its restrictions in response to the number of opioid associated deaths. Since then, Suboxone has raked in billions of dollars for pharmaceutical companies and millions more for the addiction treatment sector that sprang up in its wake.(5) Yet, there have been 100,000 overdose deaths attributed to opioids in the last 12 months.(6) Those same doctors trained by the government have also been found to be some of the most unscrupulous predators around.(7) As such, it was perplexing to many that the CDCR would provide such a highly addictive drug with such potential for abuse at a time when most prison addicts had already detoxed and gone through withdrawals, thanks to the statewide prison lockdown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Drugs are Chemical Weapons
The use of drugs as part of a larger strategy of unconventional warfare dates back to the 16th century when Europeans created the drug trade to finance the expansion of their empires and the rise of industrial capitalism.(8) One of the most infamous examples of this was the Briti$h East India Company’s use of opium to subdue China and bring it into its sphere of influence by creating a nation of addicts. While the Portuguese and Dutch were the first to popularize opium smoking in China, it was the Briti$h who took full advantage of this. When the Chinese realized what was happening, they attempted to ban all foreign ships from entry and close their ports. The Briti$h claimed the Chinese were blocking their access to Chinese markets, and used this as a pretext to launch the first of two opium wars. By 1900, 27% of all adult males in China were addicted to smoking opium and China was forced to cede Hong Kong to the Briti$h.(9) This chapter in Chinese history marked the beginning of what Mao Zedong called China’s dark night of slavery to the west.
It was around this same time that alcohol was used by Amerikkkans to facilitate the genocide of First Nations people and the theft of their land. This period also marks the first recorded use of biological weapons, when the U.$. Army used smallpox infected blankets to decimate natives and clear the land for white settlers. Together, these acts of savagery resulted in the extermination of 98% of people indigenous to what is today the United $tates and the worst genocide in humyn hystory.(10) Events similar to these played out in Africa, Asia, and the Americas.(11)
During the 20th century, the Briti$h and Amerikkkan imperialists developed more sophisticated means with which to subdue the oppressed nations. Project MK-Ultra is one such example. Project MK-Ultra was initiated by the CIA in the 1950s along with the Briti$h MI6, their sometimes collaborators. This top secret project involved using drugs and the media to attack and discredit Amerika’s political enemies.
Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD), or just simply “acid” for short, became the drug of choice for the CIA at this time. LSD was created by Albert Hoffman, a Nazi collaborator working for the Swiss IG Farben. Starting in the 1950s, the CIA began producing their own acid in “tonnage quantities” after asking pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly to synthesize Hoffman’s formula. This was part of the CIA’s larger plan to dose the water supply of the Soviet Union. The CIA knew for themselves the effects of LSD as they tested the drugs on prisoners at the same facility in Lexington, Kentucky that Suboxone was tested at twenty years later! Here, prisoners were kept tripping for 77 days straight as part of Project Artichoke which was one of many programs under the umbrella of Project MK-Ultra.(12)
The connection between the development of Suboxone, the CIA and Acid’s early days are alarming given the fact that Suboxone was introduced to California prisons at a time of heightened political consciousness amongst prisoners, an economic recession, a rise in white nationalism, Black Lives Matter protests, a statewide no visiting lockdown, and the ten-year anniversary of prison hunger strikes that rocked CDCR and produced ripple effects across Amerikkka’s gulags. Thus, it was certainly in the interests of the imperialists to suppress the germs of any potential organizing amongst the oppressed lumpen.
And although the CIA’s plans with respect to the Soviet Union never came to fruition, they did use LSD to attack the political enemies of the Amerikan bourgeoisie. Outspoken college professors critical of the U.$., political activists, communists, government whistle-blowers and their families all fell victim to LSD and were publicly discredited.(13)
As the anti-imperialist movement gained traction both outside and inside of U.$. borders, the use of LSD and other chemical weapons was expanded. Throughout the 1970s heroin became part and parcel to the fight against New Afrikan, [email protected], and First Nations national liberation movements. Asian-produced opium also became critical to U.$. imperialism’s war against Vietnam. Drug money was used to help facilitate the creation of Taiwan as a U.$. ally against Maoist China prior to these events.(14) Methadone too was linked to the opioid problem in New York City in the 1970s. Methadone as “maintenance treatment” for heroin addicts was funded by the Rockefeller Program.(15) The Rockefellers have also been implicated in Nazi atrocities, the red scare media campaigns, and CIA operations.
The 1980s brought us the Iran-Contra scandal responsible for the introduction of crack-cocaine into the ghettos and barrios of the United $tates. Again, the CIA was found to be at the heart of these dirty wars which involved the use of Iranian money to buy Amerikan guns. Money from the Iranians was then use to buy cocaine from Colombia for sale in the United $tates. Amerikan drug money was then re-circulated to fund counter-revolutionaries in Nicaragua fighting the leftist Sandinistas.(17)
More recently, Operation Fast and Furious made international headlines when the CIA was exposed for selling firearms to Mexican cartels as a means of keeping the Mexican government destabilized and the Mexican people from fighting their oppressors. The last thing the U.$. wants is for a neo-colonial country on their doorstep to turn independent and determine their own destinies.
The Problem as We Understand It
If the imperialists really wanted to they could shut down the drug trade, but that runs counter to their interests. Addiction defines capitalist society. Addiction lies at the center of supply and demand economics and is what drives the anarchy of production. From cell phones, to soap operas, to opioids and methamphetamines, everyone living in a capitalist society is addicted to something. Addiction in capitalist society is encouraged as a means to realizing profit; but also as a way to keep people in general, and the masses in particular, distracted and unable to rise up against oppression. Nowhere is this seen better than in the recent hystory of the oppressed nations.
In a critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, Karl Marx explained how religion had hystorically been urged to drug people much in the same ways the bourgeois uses actual drugs today:
“Religious suffering is at one and the same time the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.”(18)
Marx was writing at a time of the industrial revolution when the “miracle” of capitalism was creating advancements in humyn hystory never before seen. However, it was also creating grinding oppression and poverty previously unknown. Capitalism also promoted ideas of individualism, self-centeredness, greed, and exceptionalism, some of the worst qualities in humyn behavior, and expanding them to include entire populations, most pointedly in the labor aristocracy. All this combined led to lives full of misery and desperation for the masses. Lives in which the only solace was that of an afterlife. And while religion continues to act as a smokescreen in the oppression of the masses, the use of drugs has proved indispensable.
Today the root causes of oppression can be better traced to nation, class, and gender contradictions which have completely warped the way people interact on both a macro and micro level. The root causes of addiction are much the same.
In regards to religious suffering, Marx knew better than to simply call for the abolition of religion. Instead, he realized that it was the conditions that led to religious suffering themselves that needed to be abolished. Otherwise, some other new feel good belief would come to fill the void left by religion, and the oppressive system itself would remain in its place:
“The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their conditions is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusion. The criticism of religion is therefore in embryo the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo.”(19)
In other words, religion sanctified capitalism and helped make it tolerable for the oppressed. Drugs play a similar role in today’s culture. If one is high all the time than ey does not think about the many years ey have to spend in prison. One does not have to deal with the fact that ey made a decision that impacted countless lives because of eir parasitic behavior. The use of drugs allows one to cope with the impact nation, class, and gender contradictions have had on em through intergenerational trauma, all the while keeping them unable to understand how the three strands of oppression manifest through that trauma.
We encourage people to get drug free and stay that way, but this requires more than the status quo in addiction treatment, which only teaches how to better cope with the trauma of imperialism. We encourage comrades to go further and destroy the conditions that require illusions. We encourage comrades to take up revolution.
MIM(Prisons) adds: We will be doing a follow-up on this article with the results of our second survey on drugs in prisons found in ULK 75. We are still collecting and aggregating your responses. It’s not too late if you have not responded yet.
We know the state is opposed to our efforts to expose and combat the plague of drug addiction among imprisoned lumpen. Branchville Correctional Facility in Indiana censored ULK 75 citing:
“denied based on the article about Suboxone, and the common drug slang terms and sale information used in one of the articles. The items in the article violate IDOC/BCF policies.”
The drug sale information of course was that the C.O.s were selling it. See Targeted as Mentally Ill for Honesty & Not Participating in Staff Drug Running and Retaliation for Writing On Drug Smuggling for more on repression of those who don’t play the drug game.
Notes:  San Quentin News, September 2021, Pg. 8.
 5 Myths About Using Suboxone, Peter Greenspan MD, October 7, 2021
 Extended Suboxone Treatment Substantially Improves Outcomes for Opioid Addicted Youth, November 4, 2008
 Suboxone vs Methodone: Positives and Negatives, Avatar, May 21, 2021
 Addiction Treatment with a Dark Side, New York Times, 2013
 Amanpour & Co, PBS, December 7, 2021
 Addiction Treatment with a Dark Side, New York Times, 2013
 Drugs As Weapons Against Us: The CIA’s Murderous Targeting of SDS, Panthers, Hendrix, Lennon, Cobain, Tupac, and Other Activists, John L. Potash, Trine Day LLC, 2015, Pg 7-9
 Ibid, pg 10
 J. Sakai, 1989, Settlers: Mythology of the White Proletariat, 3rd Edition, Morningstar Press, p. 7. Sakai cites 200-300,000 native people remaining by 1900, of an estimated 10 million people before colonization.
 Drugs as Weapons Against Us, Pg 10
 Ibid, Pg 29-30
 Ibid, Pg 31-36
 Ibid, Pg 45-51
 Under Lock & Key, Issue 59, Pg 5, 2017
 Drugs as Weapons Against Us, Pg 13-14
 Ibid, Pg 279-285
 Karl Marx, 1843, Introduction to “A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right.”
 A Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, Karl Marx