America Has an Opium War. China Hadn’t Noticed

First of all, the issue of addiction in the US is a complicated web of socio-economic imbalance intersecting with an ever increasing national mental health crises. Our legislators are criminalizing pain management which is turn is maximizing dire health consequences for pain patients.

The media is still blaming medical doctors for overprescribing while blatantly ignoring the sweeping legislative changes that have affected prescriptions, pharmacies and legitimate pain patients who’s lives very literally depend on their opioid prescriptions reducing their debilitating chronic pain and improving their quality of life. Pain patients are automatically stigmatized as “drug seekers” and are always left out of the public conversation about opioids.

There is a narrative in the media about the the opioid epidemic. Instead of talking about the fact that the majority of patients receiving opioids do not abuse them. Most drug abusers do not start using illicit opioids via Dr’s but instead start using drugs through a drug dealer. They avoid addressing the disease of addiction and focus solely on demonizing pain and doctors practicing pain management.

The media never talk about the intense pain a family member was seeking treatment for without any compassion. Instead, they bring a crusading family member who has started a Foundation For Addiction. This family has experienced intense tragedy and their loss is heartbreaking. Yet, they bring these people in to condemn, very often their diseased grown child’s Dr for prescribing pain medications. Instead they should be criticizing the health care industry for not treating their adult child’s pain effectively. They shame them for giving any medication at all even when (and often) an inadequate amount of opioids. Then they blame this Dr for their child’s death because after the Dr stopped prescribing pain medications, their child went seeking relief for their pain by buying heroin on the street. This is a failure of our health care system and not an issue of overprescribing.

I am so tired of this narrative that paints pain patients as drug seekers and blamed Dr’s for their adult children’s disease of addiction.

Pharmaceutical companies make a fortune off of MAT and recovery programs because they manufacture Naloxone and Buprenophone, anti depressants and all drugs used in the multi billion dollar detox centers all across the country. So, the bill Trump just passed to encourage MAT programs continues to benefit big pharma while politicians can prop themselves up on the backs of those who are suffering from debilitating pain diseases.

The people who are loosing here are pain patients. The majority of patients who are prescribed opioids do NOT abuse their medications. Doctors have strict guidelines for prescribing opioids and even surgeons must adhere to new restrictions. Cancer patients and those who live with life threatening painfully debilitating chronic diseases no longer have access to the medications they need.

Big pharma will continue to profit while politicians can wave their badges of honor for enacting even more rigid laws that are increasingly leaving once active pain patients debilted because they have lost access to their opioid prescriptions. These laws are cruel and inhumane. They are fueled by misleading information and a bias towards the disease of addiction rather than those who legitimately need pain medications to have the most basic level of daily functionality. Suicide rates are skyrocketing while accesss to pain medications are plummeting and yet no media outlet ever mentions the correlation which is all to obvious for those who live with someone with a debilitatingly painful medical condition.

Don’t believe the hype! China manufactures chemicals that can be sold online and in head shops around the US, known as bath salts. Once one chemical compound is banned, they tweak it and release a compound that is not banned and the cycle continues. China is the main distributor for illegal Fentanyl that can be mailed and cooked up in someone’s home in a safer manner than Methamphetamines. Drug dealers and gangs have taken over small towns and cities all across the United States. These drug dealers lace their products with illegal Fentanyl because addicts are drawn to drugs that someone has od’d on. “It must be good product.” That is the mind set of an addict.

While the media continues to point the finger at the medical industry for overprescribing …. while the media continues to ignore the major changes in legislation that make getting a prescription for pain medication impossible for a dying cancer patient… people will continue to assume the fake opioids on the street are from a Doctor NOT a drug dealer who cooked it up in his basement.

Fake opioids laced with Fentanyl are on the rise because real prescriptions are now virtually impossible for people to get. These lies fuel the pharmaceutical industry by feeding the billion dollar recovery industry. Don’t be fooled by these laws. Overdose deaths are on the rise, suicide rates are skyrocketing…

The only way to stop the madness is to invest in mental health programs, have guidelines and protocols for Dr’s to use when prescribing opioids, start a national registry for pain patients and overhaul the healthcare industry to treat every patient with a multi modal approach to healing. Things like physical therapy being included in post surgical care, massage therapy and mental health experts are available to EVERYONE, when nutrition classes and prevention is a regular part of Family Medicine…. then and only then will we see a decline in substance abuse.

If someone had surgery and then suffers from chronic pain, yet are forced off of medications in 3 days post surgery, then is desperate for pain relief, they are labeled a drug addict. Without accesss to a long term compassionate, integrative post operative health care plan, we will continue to see the rise in Fentanyl related deaths. People will seek pain relief from the sources available and unfortunately the fake pharmaceuticals look identical to the real pharmaceuticals these days. This is how Prince died and thousands of others die every day. They are seeking relief for legitimate pain and are stigmatized and labeled an addict for simply trying to find relief.

This is a complex issue that we must continue to discuss and debate. If we continue to let the addiction narrative totally ignore the issue of PAIN then we will never be able to stop this cycle of skyrocketing addiction, overdoses and suicide rates that is sweeping our nation.

“America Has an Opium War. China Hadn’t Noticed”
— Read on

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