Opioid addiction is now considered an epidemic in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control says the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids — prescribed painkillers and heroin — increased 200 percent between 2000 and 2014. 47,055 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2014. 61 percent involved opioids. Increasingly, the abuse of prescription opioids are seen as a gateway to heroin use.
The Congress is acting. The Senate overwhelmingly passed legislation to fight the epidemic in March. Tuesday, the House began passing a series of bills aimed at doing the same thing.
Pain is deeply personal issue. Is it physical or emotional? What’s your pain threshold? What medicine will work best?
The question now: is the cure killing more than just the pain?
The Opioid Epidemic We Failed to Forsee
Dr. David A. Kessler – The New York Times
Beginning in the late 1990s, pharmaceutical companies selling high-dose opioids seized upon a notion, based on flimsy scientific evidence, that regardless of the length of treatment, patients would not become addicted to opioids.
.How did we get this so wrong?
The so-called proof that patients would not become addicted was based on a limited number of patients. This was coupled with the idea that opioids should be used for a broad range of indications — including all types of moderate to severe pain when, in fact, they don’t work against all forms of chronic pain.
Equally dangerous was the notion that there was virtually no dose ceiling. The mantra was: “Prescribe until patients achieve pain relief.”
Former FDA Commissioner David Kessler Slanders Pain Patients
Lindsay Beyersetin – Observer
Dr. David Kessler, the former head of the FDA, labelled chronic pain patients as addicts if they insist they need opioid painkillers like OxyContin to control debilitating pain….
It didn’t seem to occur to Mr. Kessler that pain patients who say they need opioids to maintain an acceptable quality of life are simply telling the truth….
Opioids may indeed be overprescribed, but that doesn’t change the fact that for some patients, they work when nothing else does. The art of medicine lies in matching the treatment to the patient.
Let’s Take Decisive Action on Opioid Abuse
Rep. Paul Ryan – Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
Right now, thousands in Wisconsin and across America are struggling with opioid abuse. And that’s why stopping this epidemic is a top priority in the House of Representatives….
This week, the House will pass a package of bills to curb opioid abuse, addiction, and deaths. One important piece of legislation is the Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Reduction Act… This program will direct federal resources to the opioid abuse problem, and gives states the flexibility to attack opioid abuse issues in their communities.
Step Up the Fight Against Drug Abuse
Rep. Sander Levin – The Detroit News
Prescription drug and opioid abuse touches every corner of our society, affecting people regardless of gender, age, income and race. People we know and love may start taking prescription drugs for legitimate reasons, but become addicted to them over time.
Andrew Fortunato, who recently completed an internship in my office as a part of his coursework for a master’s of social work degree, struggled with addiction.
Andrew became addicted to pain medication after he was offered it by a friend. He was just 15 years old. His adolescent mind reasoned, in his words, “pills come from a doctor, doctors are healers, so the pills probably can’t be that bad.”
White House Fact Sheet: Obama Administration Honors Americans Leading Efforts to Stop the Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic
Today during an event at the White House, ten individuals from across the country will be honored as “White House Champions of Change” for their leadership in preventing prescription drug abuse and heroin use, increasing access to treatment, and supporting the millions of Americans in recovery.
Opioid Addiction Is a Huge Problem, but Pain Prescriptions Are Not the Cause
Maia Szalavitz – Scientific American
According to the large, annually repeated and representative National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 75 percent of all opioid misuse starts with people using medication that wasn’t prescribed for them—obtained from a friend, family member or dealer.
And 90 percent of all addictions—no matter what the drug—start in the adolescent and young adult years. Typically, young people who misuse prescription opioids are heavy users of alcohol and other drugs. This type of drug use, not medical treatment with opioids, is by far the greatest risk factor for opioid addiction, according to a study by Richard Miech of the University of Michigan and his colleagues.
Doctors Must Lead Us Out of our Opioid Abuse Epidemic
Dr. Sanjay Gupta – CNN
This is a public health epidemic and one that is uniquely American. No other country in the world has the perverse amount of consumption as we do in the United States. And nowhere do we pay the price as dearly as with prescription opioid medications.
As of 2011, 75% of the world’s opioid prescription drugs are prescribed and swallowed up in a country that makes up less than 5% of the world’s population, leading to the most common cause of preventable death in America today. It is a horrifying and shameful statistic.And, having traveled all over the world covering natural disaster, wars and famine, I am fully confident we Americans don’t have 75% of the world’s pain.