Recently with opioids, we are facing a perfect storm. Let me explain.
When atmospheric conditions are just right (like temperature, wind, and atmospheric pressure) and they act in unison, the result is what we call a “perfect storm” in terms of catastrophic intensity of the size of the resultant hurricane. Our opioid crisis in America is indeed similar. Three players got together for our own perfect storm. A company/companies producing a new form of opioid launched as less addictive named Oxycontin, selling it to make money, medical doctors even were dispatched to persuade other colleagues about the benefits of managing pain with the new medicine.
And push they did and the profits mounded. Actually, according to my PhD biochemist son, it turned out that the pharmacological profile of Oxycontin was conducive to creating more yearning, thus producing candidates for addiction — a detail that is now well-known to my colleagues.
Meanwhile, our medical profession eager to help, especially the pain specialists — well-meaning colleagues trying to minimize pain and suffering using an elastic measurement for pain — stick to the famous “on a scale of 1-10 where do you classify your pain?” asking the patient. And the patients, oodles of them, learned because of genuine pain or imagined one, or more often to alleviate weariness and boredom in their dreary-feeling routine of their lives, they will answer more often than not — you guessed it — 7-8 in the scale of the pain (after all, opioids in general and of course Oxycontin, enable you for a while to set aside all worries, weariness, boredom, small pain and aches as Homer actually declared himself in the Iliad 2085 years ago as they already knew about the poppy from which the white juice is called opium).
Some of my colleagues, fortunately very few, ended up being elastic in their desire to profit along with their efforts to help. Some even created prescription factories.
The pharma companies aided implicitly by the spirit of the times and the government to promote profit making companies produced a torrent of Oxycontin and others similar. More and more colleagues duped or misguided by the elastic use of the pain scale and some eager to make enormous profits, prescriptions they wrote. Oodles of them. And finally and enormous number of fellow citizens who are underpaid in their routine dreary jobs as they are obliged for both partners in the family to work in order to make end’s meet with scarcely any vacation time, scarcely having time for each other, they were eagerly to lunch in a couch eating a Whopper, while they may end up in an irritating exchange with their partner often drinking beer which soon graduated into pain killers. No longer for the pain, but to alleviate the weariness and dreadful routine of life.
So we ended up with a national epidemic challenging us with a humongous triple logistical problem. How to reduce the usage of Oxycontin, or other associated opioids, all of them ferociously addictive drugs, then how to monitor the usage of prescription writing, and how to challenge our fellow citizens to confront their own lifestyle and modify it — often a very difficult to do — like trying to eat less, eat more greens, limit fast foods, or walking in the woods (humans are naturally made to run and exercise, otherwise we tend to wilt, get fat, cholesterol goes up, and then we have to take the necessary and dreadful in their side effects of the statins, a cholesterol reducing drug, as we’re getting bigger and bigger).
Indeed, we have now got a huge problem on our hands. No wonder our President proclaimed a national emergency, and then unfortunately left it at that… As if the mere proclamation will dissolve the nightmare. It won’t.
Personally, I am optimistic. Our country has faced many crises before. Together,we were challenged, and prevailed in the past. We can do it again. But we have to have a national will and a governmental determination. At present, both woefully lacking.