Prescription drugs are not the problem. Fentanyl and heroin are.

Fentanyl and Heroin, Prescriptions not main problem
*Before I’m accused of not being effected, I lost a cousin to heroin overdose. His body was found in a field.

*First and foremost, I am not saying that abuse and consumption of prescription opioids are not a problem. Opioids are not the main problem..

Doctors “overprescribing” opioids did not cause our “drug crisis.” Nearly half of all overdoses don’t involve opioids at all. Among remaining drug-related deaths in 2017, half involved illicit drugs–imported fentanyl and heroin. Only about 18,000 deaths involved a “prescription opioid” — and most of those involved multiple illegal drugs and alcohol. Medical exposure is not the problem.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse says most addicts begin to abuse alcohol and drugs in their teens or early 20’s–before they encounter opioids. Contrast that with folks over age 55. Seniors are prescribed opioids for pain three times more often than youth under age 18. But seniors have the lowest overdose rates of any age group. Kids now overdose six times more often.
We DO have an addiction crisis in America. But it’s related to lack of care, not prescribing. Prescriptions for people in pain are rarely involved in this tragedy. Restricting drug supply and counting pills won’t help. Forcing pain patients off the only medications that work (for them) won’t help.

Restrictive policies are now driving pain management doctors out of practice across America and driving patients into agony, disability, and sometimes suicide when they are deserted. Most of what we hear in media about opioids and addiction is wrong. (Why has the CDC made two corrections to it’s estimate of overdose deaths? Prescription overdoses and deaths were added in to deaths and overdoses where fentanly and heroin were iinvolved.)

We know what’s really needed,Politicians just don’t want to pay for it.

Nobody knows how to “cure” addiction. We may never know. The best we can do is early prevention and later harm reduction. Some educational programs starting in Middle School didn’t work (“Just Say No” was a total failure.) But others have shown results. For the people already addicted, the most effective harm reduction is Medication Assisted Treatment (Methadone or Buprenorphine), combined with long term community reintegration. Reintegration means job training, safe housing, mental health and recovery counseling–and support for people who relapse. 28 day detox clinics and Narcotics Anonymous don’t work alone. Such programs have high relapse rates when recovering addicts are discharged without support into the same circumstances that made them vulverable in the first place.

Addiction recovery is neither cheap nor easy. (But very lucrative for the owners of the addiction centers.) We must invest billions every year in our labor force, housing and communities. We must also divert non-violent drug offenders out of the justice system. Even the Christie Commission got that one right. But more restrictions on doctors and theire patients aren’t the answer. And neither is the proliferation of lawsuits, I’m afraid.

Molly Canfield

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