NJ Star Ledger reports on attempt by NJ and the government to stop the prescription drug epidemic. Is the epidemic just a symptom of a larger problem?
In today’s NJ Star ledger, there was an article concerning the growing prescription drug epidemic that if having an effect on the younger population. While they are recommending we safeguard the pills themselves in our homes to prevent children from taking them at parties and socially, this is just the tip of the iceberg.
To go farther, parents should also lock up their liquor yet, children continue to get access to many of these substances as well. It seems that prohibition increases the curiosity of those who wish to find and take these substances. When we look at the 1930’s. with alcohol prohibition, while it may have curbed some alcohol abuse, it also created a great business model for the mob. When the mob lost prohibition, they of course went into entertainment in Las Vegas and Florida.
Looking further into this problem, many of those same people who have the pain killers and such in their house may have used them once for perhaps relief for some sort of surgical procedure while others received them at the hands of a physician who was less than judicious about how they used the medication.
Years ago, the Agency for Healthcare Policy and Research recommended three things for Acute back pain which included aspirin, ice and manipulation (primarily used by chiropractors). Political medicine saw to it to create their own protocols or marketing materials which included surgeries and other methods that had much less proof that they worked. The drug companies continued to convince doctors that aspirin was not strong enough and many continue to this day recommend opioid pain killers and muscle relaxants which have the effects children desire to recreational usage. What’s worse, is that those recommendations do not help people solve why they are in pain, but have addictive qualities. Many celebrities have gone to rehab because of prescription drugs.
Taking this one step further is the ridiculous war on drugs which has proven to be an expensive failure with costly side effects. Not only has this not worked, because people who want them will find a way to get them but it had the unintended consequences of drug wars in Mexico as well as other countries and the jailing of Americans for possession and sales of something that the mob (sounds familiar, remember prohibition) controls south of the border.
Perhaps the bigger issue is that feeling of drugs being ok. Pharmaceuticals are regularly advertised on television and seem normal. Those who are hooked because of chronic pain usually got that way with some help from their local physician, usually inadvertently because of pain or other conditions where the medication has an addictive quality. Usually, there are better drug free alternatives however, in this day and age of quick fixes, broken promises of care that will never work and growing co payments while your doctor is supposed to figure out your problem and solution in 10 minutes or less is not helping the problem, especially while some doctors will listen with one ear and write with the other. This is also yet another strong arguement for doctors to recommend chiropractic for their patients who are in pain rather than sending them for doctor to doctor whose poor understanding of the musculoskeletal system is clearly part of why people hurt. The book Cheating Mother Nature should be a guide for anyone who wishes to find better alternatives for chronic pain.
This comes back to why your children want to experiment with your pills to begin with. Is this bad parenting, natural curiosity, or the idea that no drugs are really dangerous except those from drug dealers because the media and the war on drugs teaches us that drugs are ok.
The argument is being won as more states allow marijuana for medicinal purposes because it cannot controlled, being that it helps some medically. Further public confusion will ensue because of this and it and as we learned from history, prohibition does not work, weather it is you locking up your meds, or your use of marijuana for medical reasons, or the local drug dealer who is making huge profits from a long line of elicit deals beginning south of the border and enriching the wrong kind of people.
Maybe we need to finally realize we cannot on one hand say drugs are bad and on the other teach they are acceptable. The message is being lost. Perhaps the message needs to be that drugs are legal, dangerous and government controlled for that reason. This would have some benefits:
1. A unified message that dangerous drugs are bad, but will be distributed through controlled channels and that they are legal.
2. Tax revenue which is badly needed.
3. The end of prohibition enriching the wrong types of people and ending the drug war.
4. Reducing the amount of people incarcerated for drugs, which would reduce the burdens on our courts as well as our need for excess law enforcement. This money can be spent better elsewhere or used for deficit reduction.
What do you think? As always, I value your opinion.