Are doctors over prescribing opioids? Probably. Non-refillable Percocet or Lortab are prescribed where an aspirin would suffice. However, no one becomes an addict because a doctor prescribed ten or even twenty Percocet following a dental procedure—not unless they really wanted to become an addict from the get go.
USA Today reported that when you peel back the onion on this “opioid crisis,” adults with mental health disorders are consuming more than half of all painkillers prescribed in the United States. Researchers at the University of Michigan and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center found that almost 52% of opioid prescriptions are going to people with mental health conditions. If Psychiatrist and other doctors stopped prescribing opioids to those with mental health issues, most of the overdoses and at least half of opioid prescriptions would stop.
Take away the mental health aspect and the remaining “crisis” problem relates to the illegal diversion of pain medications to the streets for recreational purposes. Among the youth, drugs are cool. But so were cigarettes and we made those uncool.
As it sometimes happens, a “so called” crisis may just be the symptom rather than the cause. I am a user—that is, I rely on opioids for pain management. The pain being a by-product gift of cancer survival. My use of opioids is closely monitored by the prescribing doctor and that includes a periodic urine test, face-to-face interviews, and a standard medical check of vitals every month. People like me are not the ones overdosing or using drugs for recreational purposes. We are the same people who take advantage of an array of non-narcotic alternatives for pain management including epidurals, ablation, physical therapy, acupuncture, exercise, chiropractic manipulation, supplements and vitamins, stress-reduction techniques, etc. In short, we are not problem!
We need to stop drugging those with mental problems, and we need to crack down on illegal diversion including criminals in the medical profession who write prescriptions for cash without a bona fide medical justification. Unfortunately, now that the “Opioid Crisis is a National Emergency” the government is likely to reduce access to these medications limiting legal production and prescriptions. Those who really need the opioids for pain management will be the losers. And, the reduction in access will lead to more illegal production, more black-market activity, and more unsafe street drugs.
Having said all the above, there is dark side to opioid use. Diversion activities put millions of dollars in the pockets of criminals willing to put these powerful drugs in the hands of the mentally ill and those who just want to get high. With big money involved the full array of criminal activity follows. My new book, tells that dark side story. Diversion, the fifth book in the Mark Rollins adventure series, will be released later this year. It is a shocking reveal of big-city drug problems moving into the country side—sex trafficking, terrorist and murder! The gripping action takes place in and around the small towns of Manchester and Tullahoma, Tennessee, near Nashville. Watch for Diversion to be released later this year.