State of Suffering: The attack on Prescription Drugs Is Wrongheaded Policy

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.

16 thoughts on “State of Suffering: The attack on Prescription Drugs Is Wrongheaded Policy”

  1. “It is not the prerogative of government to govern your body.”

    Unless you’re a pregnant woman, of course.

  2. Once again, you are not dealing with just your body. While I personally don’t favor most chemical birth controls for religious reasons, you are free to keep from getting pregnant if that is your desire by any means from abstinence to injections. Once you choose to get pregnant, you have choice what to do with the child. Killing it is not a valid choice.

  3. David as long as the government does nothing to the legal drug dealers they license “doctors” like the one in Milford who was handing out prescriptions for Oxys, and all the other pain pills that are being abused, NOTHING will change. This doctor in many cases didn’t even have records for the patients he was writing prescriptions for. Oxys can be crushed and snorted, they can also be melted and shot up.

  4. Bill, that hasn’t been true in the U.S. for years, the government made sure of it. If you crush and snort, you don’t get the benefit.

    Even if you are right about an occasional doctor that is better than what we have today. You cannot prohibit everything, you can only prohibit if there is an alternative. I would rather have people monitored and getting screened substances that we know do not have harmful agents (more damage is done by the stuff to cut the drugs than the drugs), neighborhood drug dens, and gang fights. We have to clean up our neighborhoods and get people functioning so they can work again. That means getting people off the bad stuff.

  5. We have about 8% unemployment among those looking for work, a number that doubles when you add in those who would like full-time employment or have stopped looking.

    With almost 1 in 5 people who WANT to work unable to find suitable employment, where would you employ these people who don’t? And how, considering you folks refuse to acknowledge that public-payroll jobs are actually jobs, would you pay them?

  6. Geezer writes in #1: ““It is not the prerogative of government to govern your body. ” Unless you’re a pregnant woman, of course.”

    But there are TWO (2) bodies involved with a pregnancy — of course.

    If a woman can get a signed affidavit from the baby that it doesn’t mind being killed, then you have a decision on behalf of BOTH of the bodies involved.

    But killing one of the bodies without its owner’s consent violates the argument Geezer is trying to fob off on us.

    So, Geezer, would you agree that the consent of the child should also be required before a woman has a doctor kill it?

  7. Mosely writes:

    “If a woman can get a signed affidavit from the baby that it doesn’t mind being killed, then you have a decision on behalf of BOTH of the bodies involved.”

    Isn’t Mosely a lawyer? If so, he should ask that fetus to produce a birth certificate and valid American identification papers before that fetus signs any affidavit.

    Mr. Mosely, there is a difference between a fetus and a baby, but you knew that already. You’re just letting your ideology get in the way of your education.

  8. So how then will you get the baby’s consent to have its body sliced into pieces and scraped out of the uterus in parts with a scoop?

    If the argument is about making decisions about your own body, tell us what the baby’s decision is about the baby’s body?

  9. “So how then will you get the baby’s consent to have its body sliced into pieces and scraped out of the uterus in parts with a scoop?”

    The “baby” has no functioning brain, and hence cannot give “informed consent” — indeed, under the law, it is not a person. As a lawyer, you should know that. Oops, forgot about your sterling record as a lawyer….

  10. David, have you had a family member who abused prescrition drugs? I have, and we almost lost her to an overdose, not intentional by the way.
    With prescription drugs it builds slowly and families may not be aware until the problem is completely out of hand.
    Doctors do have a role in making sure that patients are not doctor shopping and I believe many have become lazy and over rely on drugs first.
    The idea that you call prescription drugs a safe alternative is troubling. It is like saying that playing roulette with a gun you purchased legally and have a permit for is a safe alternative to playing roulette with a gun you bought on the street. Either way you are dead.
    I do also believe that the individuals have a personal responsibility in abusing any drug, however many become adicted after starting use for legitimate reasons, it is the doctors who must monitor these cases, but there must be some form of oversight of the doctors as well, lest they become nothing more than common street dealers, after all if they cut off a patient, they run the risk of losing said patient and the insurance money they bring.
    With Obama care I believe we will see more drug prescriptions as alternatives become more costly.

  11. Geezer writes in #9:

    “So how then will you get the baby’s consent to have its body sliced into pieces and scraped out of the uterus in parts with a scoop?”

    The “baby” has no functioning brain, and hence cannot give “informed consent” — indeed, under the law, it is not a person. As a lawyer, you should know that. Oops, forgot about your sterling record as a lawyer….

    So then it would be wrong — by your own argument, Geezer — to kill the baby’s body because you cannot obtain or have not obtained its consent.

    An adult pain patient should have the right to do what he or she wants with his or her body. A woman should have the right to do what she wants with his or her body. But if you are going to kill an unborn child, you need to follow the same principle and get teh baby’s decision on the matter. Since you don’t have the baby’s consent, you shouldn’t murder the baby.

    For example, in the law, an underage girl cannot legally consent to sex, and therefore it is deemed to be rape even if the girl did in fact consent.

    If a personly who is mentally incomepetent signs a contract it is invalid. If a minor signs a contract under the age of 18 it is voidable.

    So if you haven’t gotten the baby’s consent to kill it, how do you have the right to do what you want with the baby’s body?

  12. “Doctors do have a role in making sure that patients are not doctor shopping and I believe many have become lazy and over rely on drugs first.”
    When exactly are doctors going to take the time or money to some how monitor doctor shopping? Oh wait, stimulus money is making it happen through the electronic health record.

    Here’s a subtle article about perscription drug abuse directly using your tax dollars (bonus quote from newly re-elected Senator Carper, although the article is a year old).
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/04/health/policy/04medicare.html

  13. “So then it would be wrong — by your own argument, Geezer — to kill the baby’s body because you cannot obtain or have not obtained its consent.”

    Wrong again, Jon. According to the law, which you are supposed to know, the fetus — which is not a baby under the legal definition, that is, has legal standing — has no functioning brain. Ever notice, Jon, that we declare people dead when their brains cease to function? Same status applies.

    Playing word games won’t solve the problem, and neither will criminalizing the procedure.

  14. Geezer writes in #13:

    “So then it would be wrong — by your own argument, Geezer — to kill the baby’s body because you cannot obtain or have not obtained its consent.”

    Wrong again, Jon. According to the law, which you are supposed to know, the fetus — which is not a baby under the legal definition, that is, has legal standing — has no functioning brain

    But the law was not your argument. Your argument was that one should make decisions about their own body.

    Do you remember your own argument, Geezer?

    Your pitch was that pain patients should be able to decide about their own bodies but that Republicans don’t want women to decide about their own bodies… ignoring that the baby has a body, too.

    And actually it is not true that a fetus “is not a baby under the legal definition, ”

    Have you ever read ROE v. WADE?

    The US Supreme Court (a) explicitly declared it did not know whether a fetus is a baby or not, and (b) erred on the side (quite explicitly) of allowing the murder of the fetus in spite of declaring that the US Supreme Court could not decide whether the fetus is a human being or not.

  15. #12 By lisetening to relatives that come in and provide them information. Providing a doctor information is not a HIPPA violation, but that’s the law doctors like the doctor in Milford hide behind as they write prescriptions for nearly 750,000 controlled pain pills. These doctors after receiving the information could contact the other doctors and tell them “hey I have so and so for a patient, I was informed she/he is also seeing you and getting the same medications” That scenario does not violate any patient confidentiality laws. Delaware’s new drug laws expect pharmacies to do the same exact thing, keep a central log for certain controlled drugs that are abused.

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