Questions: In the Midst of Life-Threatening Opioid Addictions

Some people are fortunate or ra

The city of New Haven, Connecticut, in an 83 page lawsuit,  is suing the makers of Oxycontin. Their claim is that they hold the blame for the epidemic that has swept the country and boasts responsibility for overdoses, deaths, child abuse and neglect and all other damages associated with opioid abuse. Children are rendered unsafe, unhealthy, adultified and eventually uprooted in its wake.

Without getting into the science of pharmacology, in everyday language, Oxycontin[oxycodone] is a semi-synthetic opioid pain killer. Often referred to as a narcotic, it is used to treat moderate to severe pain symptoms expected to last for an extended period of time. Related to Percocet, Vicodin, and Methadone, in the midst of the present opioid epidemic, declared a national health emergency, it is astonishing that Oxycodone is still being  prescribed by physicians across the country.

The pharmaceutical industry’s primary concern clearly must be about ‘business’, and of course, business is money. Despite the numbers of people dying and overdosing on these ‘legal’ drugs, they are still in production. So, what about the large multi-billion dollar companies, or one in particular, Purdue Pharma, LP, the drug’s manufacturer? This family-owned company makes but one widely prescribed drug-Oxycodone, and has amassed tens of billions of dollars since it hit the market. According to the CDC, over 90 people die every day from opioid use. While people die, companies like this do nothing to curtail or prevent the continuation of the drugs’ devastating impact on the lives of individuals, children and families.

Where is the FDA [Food and Drug Administration], charged with regulating, and approving medically prescribed and over-the-counter medications? Are they fulfilling their role in  determining which drugs are released to the public,  or are they too sitting back and pointing fingers and ‘blaming the victims’? The CDC[Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] collects the data, but is anyone listening?

All I seem to have are questions. Who’s minding the store? At one time, there was a food additive commonly called, Red Dye #2. It was linked to all types of health problems and contained some carcinogenic-cancer causing properties. Ultimately banned, removed from the market and since has ceased production. That was in the 1970’s, I believe.

It’s 2017 and medical science has advanced by leaps and bounds. We have more advanced brain and body monitoring technologies, and the science of addiction, and pain management treatments have also provided us with such detailed data. Yet we have teens, adults, and families being impacted to devastating proportions by a substance which didn’t originate on the black market, an underground delivery system, but from your family physician.

Different from illegal substances,  most people are prescribed opioids because of legitimate physiological pain associated with surgery or some type of injury. Some develop a high tolerance for the medication and experience an increased dependence upon opioids. And as perceived or real somatic need increases, so does frequency and prescribed dosage… until we get to this point. All types of maladaptive behaviors ensue, and though the cost is high, the desire or the need seems to overshadow the risks.
When prescriptions run out, there are ‘druggists’ who stand on street corners and sell opioids to addicts via a black market delivery system. The dangers are greater for overdose and death when they are bought illegally. Counterfeit versions, usually cheaper, are unregulated. Who knows what is being put into the pills sold on the street. But, the demand is there, and as goes supply and demand, someone will always be there to meet the demands.

In the early 1980’s, Quaaludes [Lemmon 714] [a barbituate, also called a ‘downer’] was sung about in the song, ‘SuperFreak’, by Rick James. Another example of a pharmaceutical drug rendered obsolete and banned by the FDA. Why can’t we hit the drug companies where it hurts and prevent them from hurting others. Ban it. Take it off the market, or impose stricter guidelines and regulations regarding its availability. Educate physicians on the potential and real dangers of these drugs. Before a diagnosis indicates treatment modalities in which opioids may prove more effective, doctors must exhaust all alternative treatments first.

In my opinion, the city of New Haven, Connecticut along with a string of other cities and states have the right idea. Progress and change begins somewhere, and if not at the federal level, then states and cities must advocate for its citizens. Bankrupt them or make them pay for deceptive marketing and contributing to the destruction of the lives of families in middle America and from the East to West Coasts. Although there is no magic wand to wave and fix this mess, New Haven is also endeavoring to be a part of the solution. Someone has to step up and proactively prevent more tragedies, before they happen.This is truly a heartbreaking and controversial topic, but what would you do?


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