(This blog post is being re-edited, check back later to read the final version)
he “Opioid Epidemic” is an incredibly complex Public Health issue. However, the main attention of the Epidemic is focused on criminalizing medical doctors who specialize in pain management. These are Medical Doctors who are just trying to do their jobs and help people. The media is reinforcing the most persistent and pervasive myth that is driving this new war on drugs- the myth is that there’s an overwhelming abundance of Dr’s who are overprescribing pain medications. Most people believe that Dr’s literally give opioid pain medications prescriptions out out like candy.
The media pushes this lie that DEA crafted by taking a few, very criminal, very bad Doctors who were running pill mills and turned a small percentage of corrupt Doctors and Pharmacists into a sensationalistic over abundance of corrupt medical professionals who are handing out opioid prescriptions to anyone who asks for them.
They media has successfully skewed the public’s realitythat was once a view about medical doctors becoming Dr’s in order to help people into a distorted view that says doctors are prescribing medications without reason, research or necessity…. that doctors now, because of opioid prescription demand, have no more ethics, no moral code and have just thrown all medical training out the window in order to give opioids away like candy.
Up until a the past year and a half, or so, all medical doctors used to be able to prescribe opioids to their patients if they had a medical necessity. Up until a year and a half, almost 2 years ago, ALL General Practitioners, Family Practitioners and Internal Medicine Specialists were legally permitted AND were expected to treat a multitude of disorders and diseases that are Specialized Medical areas of health care, such as: mental health/mental illnesses with anti anxiety medications, anti depressants and anti psychotics; Diabetes prevention and treatment with Insulin and regular sugar tests; Hypertension and Heart Disease with EKG’, stress tests and a wide range of medications; women’s gynecological needs with testing and medications. This is normal! Excuse me… this USED to be normal. However, now, only Anesthesiologists and Doctors of Pain Medicine specialists can prescribe high dose opioids. This law sounds fair on it’s face but many pain specialists started out as Internists, one pain specialist I had who was excellent started out as a Psychiatrist who end up focusing on pain management because of the overwhelming need to treat the millions of people who are suffering from chronic pain. These are often Doctors who find a passion for helping those who have failed traditional treatment options.
The tactics of the DEA show extreme bias and seek the advice of highly paid, untrained in the treatment of Intractable Pain Disease and complex pain disorders. Currently, there’s overwhelming evidence that the DEA’s mission has become focused on criminalizing pain management.
If half of the people realized that the outrage over the “opioid crisis” is actually playing an integral role in creating government agency over reach. The DEA has been criminally penalizing medical doctors and pharmacists at an alarming rate. This is a clear criminalization of our country’s leading Specialists in Pain Management Medicine.
Even if a cancer patient, whose cancer has metastasized and they receive the opioid prescription they need just to be able to get out of bed in the morning, there’s no guarantee they will be able to find a pharmacy that is willing to fill these things. This is because pharmacies are facing increasing criminal investigations and charges just for filling prescriptions that a medical doctor wrote for their patient. This is outrageous! Even at hospitals, Doctors can no longer get the medications approved by the hospital pharmacy for cancer patients and other pain patients.
The hysteria surrounding the “opioid crisis” is creating a demand to stop this drug epidemic and it is being focused on legitimate Pain Management Doctors instead of informing the public about the huge influx of fake pharmaceuticals pouring into our country every day. Instead of people demanding ethical, comprehensive pain management be available to every citizen of our country, the media has people trying to file criminal charges for drug trafficking behavior against Doctors and Pharmacists. There my be a few bad actors but for the most part, the years of easy access to opioid manufacturers and distributors are gone. The DEA watches opioid prescriptions and distributors like a hawk.
Changes were implemented years ago that made pill mills a thing of the past than a reality of the present. Yet, there is no coverage in the media about the rules and regulations that have been drastically changed. So, there’s still a public demand and thus political cries to seek out doctors and pharmacists to punish. The UN actually considers this restriction to adequate pain management a crime against humanity.
What we need to do is focus our energy on demanding that our government agencies be spending their time and resources to investing money on addiction treatment program and onto a better, more comprehensive health care system that provides a holistic, integrative approach to medicine. What also needs to happen is legalizing medical cannabis, but that is for another blog post.
There is a decrease in criminal pill mill operations and a decrease in the ability for overprescribing opioid prescriptions, yet, illegal addiction rates are on the rise. Public policy is fighting against truth…it is fighting against the FACT that pain can be debilitating and cause physiological health related issues and illnesses. Chronic pain is on the rise! People are ignorant of laws and DEA protocols that have been in place, increasing in number since 2003. Much data people use to justify creating mass hysteria is based on truths and statistics that were true primarily prior to 2005.