One day, we will finally get tired of worrying about if people get high. Most Americans think we are losing the war on drugs. I submit the reason is that we focus on the wrong objective. It is not the prerogative of government to govern your body. You and your doctor know if you are in pain and how best to treat it. The Attorney General and Police do not. I believe the best way to end the violence, funding of terrorism and narco-gangs and poisoning of our children is to attack the hard core street drugs while allowing people safer alternatives. The attack on Delaware doctors who are dealing with those in chronic pain for the fear that people might be getting safe and cheap alternatives to unsafe drugs cut with various substances on the streets, is hurting those who suffer from chronic pain.
Read this story from the USA Today. I have seen this with my own eyes. The drug policy of this state is not only ill conceived and diverting resources to unproductive ends, it is inhumane.
Tortorella, 45, suffers from degenerative scoliosis — curvature of the spine — and can only walk slowly, hunched over and wracked with agony. As the days went on without a new doctor, she began to worry she’d run out of the pills and the Fentanyl patches that make her pain bearable. She also faced the prospect of severe withdrawal from the addictive medication.
Tortorella, who until her pain got so bad about three years ago had worked in banking and sales, finally found a new doctor. The doctor reduced her medication, however.
Tortorella is a casualty of the painkiller epidemic that has engulfed Delaware and much of America. With so many patients selling or misusing their drugs, pain medications now have a stigma, leaving many doctors unwiling to take on legitimate pain patients. Others simply don’t have the expertise.
The recent conference on prescription drug abuse does not give me hope. It is based upon faulty premises and was therefore based on reinforcing bad policy.
We are getting national attention for our backwards approach. How about we instead start a discussion about the fact that drugs react differently in different people?
It is said that pain medications react differently in the brains of those in pain. It is also true that even among people in pain that some respond differently. We need to give doctors more than 5 minutes with a patient so the patient can be evaluated. Instead, we cut the amount they get in Medicare (which affects the majority of prescriptions) and Medicaid so much that doctors are pressured to see more patients in a given day. We then want to micromanage the doctor and patient relationship because some people fill a prescription after they need fewer pills. Those then may get shared, stolen, or shared.
What is the result of this alleged epidemic? They claim that 14,000 people die a year from overdoses, but as a percentage of people who use them, it is actually quite low especially when you extract the old standbys like morphine and methadone. It is less than alcohol, tobacco, or driving. Many are intentional overdoses that cannot be prevented. However, most of the deaths are from morphine and methadone not drugs that are widespread like Oxycodone which is made to be less able to be abused. It cannot not be crushed or snorted. More deaths occur from acetaminophen poisoning than from this drug.
Part of this so called epidemic could be eliminated by putting chiropractic treatment in government health care plans. The CDC, the voice of big government, recognized that many people who have problems are those who suffer from back pain. “In a prospective, population-based study of injured workers with compensable low back pain, 38% of the workers received an opioid early in their care, most at the first doctor visit (14). Among the 6% who went on to receive opioids for chronic pain for 1 year, most did not report clinically meaningful improvement in pain and function, even though their opioid dose rose significantly over the year” quoting the CDC Grand Rounds: Prescription Drug Epidemic dated January 13, 2012 The drugs often do little good, but they are not given other pain management systems. I was glad that I was able to get Chiropractic treatment when I needed it. I was able to avoid drugs and get the problem fixed after I was struck by a drunk driver. Such treatment coverage is mandated for auto accidents. The fact that government is taking a more active role in health care could be a negative for alternative treatment options, yet if government wishes to be involved, it should start by getting its own house in order.
The question is do we continue to push people into abuse of street drugs or will we develop a system to allow medical management of addictions? The government cannot stop people from getting high. It is time we give up that fantasy. We can have safer streets, better management of pain, and stop making felons out of people who are hurting. Our prisons will not be overflowing, government will be less intrusive, and our streets will be safer because we will distribute higher quality, safer drugs through legal channels. The more we take safer options away, the more people go to increasingly dangerous options from huffing to “bath salts” and we end up with brain damaged zombies. We will then be able to focus on the dangerous substances.
As usual, government is the problem not the solution.