The Opioid Epidemic

Dear Editor, Peacefully tuning in to National Public Radio (NPR) this week; the message was jarring. The head of The Center for Disease Control (CDC), in Georgia, was informing me that our country is suffering an epidemic of Opioids — pills prescribed for pain legally by our medical doctors. Five to six million people in our country are addicted to Norco, OxyContin, or Vicodin, the composition of which are based on compounds of Heroin.

These pills are meant for short periods of intermittent use, say 2, 3 or 4 days; but the prescription usually covers 30 days and their strength is so strong that addiction can occur within 2-3 days — Even ONE! The deadliest result is that 17,000 people have died by overdose across the U.S. in 2014. The spokesman clarified the fact that as these people changed doctors, searched the Internet and scoured the streets for more pills to ease their pain, their pain was now being caused by the addiction of being out of pills.

What to do about the “suburban addiction plight” of five or six million people, he did not say; obviously some kind of increasingly lower withdrawal program. He was, however, clear in what they could control: keeping it out of the hands of new patients! These drugs are administered by state medical boards. It’s no coincidence that just two weeks ago, the head of our California Medical Board had a press conference stating that for the first time, one of our licensed medical doctors was being prosecuted

as a criminal for the fraudulent selling of pills for profit of five to six million dollars over the past three years. This lady Chinese medical doctor was stripped of her license and sentenced to seventeen years in prison!

It finally clicked in my head when two people I knew had been prescribed Norco or Vicodin in the past three months. They called, and I drove seemingly everywhere; all the pharmacies were out of stock! It could be ordered, but that would take seven or eight days. Oh, and the original prescription would have to be re-verified by the doctor, faxed back directly from their office.

Finally, a Walgreen’s had it in stock for $79 for 30 tablets. The cost however was not covered by her MediCal insurance, and there were no generics. The gal with me was a mother whose prescription was for a car accident, but she admitted she had used something else and wanted the Vicodin for her daughter. I remembered her daughter having a serious operation back in October, but she was still taking Vicodin. She was now addicted. She called her mother on the phone to inquire if the pills had been procured. I could hear the terror in her voice. What to do!

Any suggestions Doc?

Amelia Anderson, Homeless Advocate and your candidate for STNC Representative

P.S. PLEASE VOTE ON APRIL 2nd!

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