America’s Opioid Addiction Epidemic Was No Accident
Today, more Americans use RX opioids than smoke cigarettes. Opiates such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, fentanyl and morphine also kill more Americans than automobile accidents annually.
Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin, lied to doctors and patients, convincing them that OxyContin, a narcotic pain killer was safe and non-addictive when prescribed for pain.
Starting in Y 1996, Purdue unleashed more than 20,000 “educational programs” to encourage long-term use of opioids to control non-cancer pain, even though there were no studies to support the use of opioids long-term in patients with non-fatal conditions.
In that 1st year sales of Oxycontin reached $45-M. By Y 2000, that number had risen to $1.1-B, and 10 years later sales 3X’d to $3.1-B, for 30% of the Rx pain “killer” market.
Misinformation and manipulation of scientific facts by drug makers have led to a drug crisis of truly astounding proportions, with more Americans now using Rx opioids than those who smoke cigarettes.
In Alabama alone, which has the highest opioid Rx rate in the US, there are 143 prescriptions for every 100 people. Medical doctors bear a a huge responsibility for creating this situation.
Surgeons also need to reevaluate current practices of routinely sending surgical patients home with a powerful painkiller. In fact, many of today’s addicts became hooked after being prescribed a narcotic pain reliever following dental surgery or a relatively minor injury.
Heroin use more than 2X’d in 18- to 25-year-olds between Y’s 2002 and 2011, and this rise in heroin addiction is a direct result of prescription opioid addiction among young patients.
Last year the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of opioids in children as young as 11 anni. I shudder to imagine what this might do to an entire generation of American children.
Now, just 1 in 10 drug addicts receive the help they need, and those who do get into treatment typically face long wait times.
About 33% of those who need treatment cannot afford it, or do not have insurance coverage. So, there is a lot of work that needs to be done to turn this epidemic around, but part of the answer is to become an educated patient, and to never fill that opioid prescription in the 1st place.
The drug industry and prescribing doctors must acknowledge their role and take responsibility for its resolution.
Big pharma has to be honest about the products they are selling us. Doctors should prescribe opiates only when they are absolutely necessary. And we need to look at addiction as a treatable medical condition so people can openly ask for help, like they would for any illness.
Treatment needs to be refined, so it is scientific and long-term.
If you or a friend are struggling with drugs or alcohol, visit halfofus.com for ways to get help.
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