Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Opioid Addiction In America

prescription opioids
Closely following the American opioid addiction epidemic devastating both families and municipalities across the country, can be disheartening. The death toll has been staggering and it seems, at times, that even the best intentions of lawmakers and health experts has done little to combat the crisis. It appears that what is needed to solve the problem is well understood, but bringing about actual change is moving at a crawl.

Before going any further, it is important that some distinctions are made. First, and perhaps foremost, the drugs being abused in the United States are but a symptom of much greater problem. Second, every addictive substance could be outlawed overnight (prescription or not) and people with still find a way to get their hands on drugs. Third, we do not live in a time of greater addiction rates, we live in an era that, in many many ways, encourages and relies on prescription narcotics as the answer to most health problems; in turn, creating an environment that leads people down the road of addiction.

Most experts believe that pharmaceutical companies, prescription drug wholesalers and doctors are to blame for the prevalence of opioid addiction in America. And while the view is not without merit, many doctors took the word of drug companies regarding the addictive nature of their products. They were, in many cases, mislead into erroneous thinking; which does not excuse physicians’ culpability, but underscores the need for a doctor's complete understanding of any drug before it is prescribed in abundance and what to do in the event of a patient becoming addicted.

Religion “is the opium of the people,” is a paraphrased statement of German philosopher and economist Karl Marx. But the chief of addiction medicine and an assistant professor at Stanford University School of Medicine, Anna Lembke, MD, amended that statement by saying that “opium has become the religion of the masses,” in an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes. Dr. Lembke has a number of insights that are worth considering regarding opioid addiction in the U.S. Chris Hayes’ expose on the scope of the epidemic in America is at times hard to believe. For instance, how drug wholesalers shipped 9 million opioid pills to one pharmacy in a town of under 400 people in West Virginia. We strongly encourage you to take a few minutes to watch the short video below:

If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

For a more in depth reading of Dr. Lembke’s knowledge of the subject matter and possible solutions, she had a book published by Johns Hopkins University Press recently, Drug Dealer, MD: How Doctors Were Duped, Patients Got Hooked, and Why It’s So Hard to Stop.

“Dr. Lembke gives voice to the millions of Americans struggling with prescription drugs while singling out the real culprits behind the rise in opioid addiction: cultural narratives that promote pills as quick fixes, pharmaceutical corporations in cahoots with organized medicine, and a new medical bureaucracy focused on the bottom line that favors pills, procedures, and patient satisfaction over wellness.” 

Hopefully, books like Lembke’s and journalistic exposes like the ones from Chris Hayes, will help communities to better understand what is needed to put an end to this insidious epidemic. As you well know, we can't turn back the clock, but we can change how things are done in the future. Addiction treatment, and access to such facilities at short notice, is the most of effective way of reducing active addiction rates in America. If you or a loved one, are one of the millions of Americans addicted to opioids, please contact Cottonwood Tucson today.

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