There is a silent menace among us, a pink elephant in the room, and its name is opioid addiction.
The flood of ready access to both prescription and non-prescription drugs that contain opium derivatives has created a national health crisis.
Since the late 1990s, Big Pharma companies have been pushing their agenda (Big Profits) via dispensing doctors who get a kick-back from drug sales.
The good news? Opiates are excellent pain-killers.
The bad news? Opiates are highly addictive.
Patients complaining of “stress” or migraine headaches might wind up with a drug habit. By its very nature, the body develops a tolerance for opioids consumed on a regular basis, and it takes higher doses to achieve the same effect until an upper threshold is reached. At this point, the patient is, by now, probably addicted to a Schedule 1 narcotic that isn’t even stopping the pain anymore.
Drug names for legal opioids you might recognize include oxycodone (OxyContin and Percocet), hydrocodone (Vicodin), and a high-strength synthetic opioid called fentanyl. The big name, on the illegal list, is heroin. Methadone is its synthetic substitute.
Along with pain relief, opioids sedate the part of the brain in charge of breathing. High doses can cause the respiratory system to shut down, even to the point of death.
The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) informs us that:
“Drug overdose deaths are the leading cause of injury death in the United States.”
But did you know that many overdose victims are not illegal drug users, but “just plain folks” whose doctor got them hooked on a powerful, brain-altering chemical?
The HHS confirms this astonishing fact – doctors have written FOUR TIMES the number of legal drug orders in less than 20 years:
“Since 1999, the amount of prescription drugs prescribed and sold in the United States has nearly quadrupled, yet there has not been an overall change in the amount of pain that Americans report. Overprescribing leads to more abuse and more overdose deaths.”
Not only is the US opioid epidemic a public health issue, it is a matter of great concern to law enforcement.
This month, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH) released this disturbing fact:
“Every day, more than 90 Americans die after overdosing on opioids.”
Big Pharma is to blame. The NIH says they out-and-out lied to the healthcare providers – who, incredibly, believed them. Hadn’t those gullible, unquestioning “scientists” learned their lesson from the cigarettes-don’t-cause-cancer scandal? Apparently not:
“Pharmaceutical companies reassured the medical community that patients would not become addicted to prescription opioid pain relievers, and healthcare providers began to prescribe them at greater rates.”
How do you rate a medical doctor that doesn’t know that opiates are highly addictive, and to dispense them with care, as few as possible, and only on a genuine-need basis?
Healthcare provider education and training issues aside, let’s talk about greed. Business Insider lays it on the line:
“Companies pay doctors millions of dollars to promote not their most innovative or effective drugs, but some of their most unremarkable.”
Now let’s talk about bribes and conflicts of interest:
“Surveys conducted in 2004 and again in 2009 showed that more than three-quarters of doctors had at least one type of financial relationship with a drug or medical device company.”
Did that sober you up?
Great news came last October from the not-for-profit group that accredits more than 20,000 national health care organizations and programs, the Joint Commission, which mandated that hospitals provide nonpharmacologic (non-drug) pain treatment options, including acupuncture, chiropractic treatment, massage, and patient education.
The elderly are especially vulnerable to over-eager pill-pushing providers. Why not inventory your parents’ medicine cabinet to see what they are on? The truth might surprise you, and not pleasantly.
As always, be aware. Knowledge is power. Use your common sense and get help when you need it.
Don’t become an unwitting statistic in the American Opioid Epidemic.