The Current Opioid Crisis, and Why It Is Still Happening

The Current Opioid Crisis, and Why It Is Still Happening

A perspective on the current Opioid Crisis, and why it is still happening.

Stevepb (Pixabay)
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"Hi Tom, how are you?" Rodney asked Tom.

"I'm doing better, I injured my back at work about 2 days ago, but was released from the hospital yesterday. They told me to go to my doctor to get a prescription for my chronic back pain. Is there anything you can do doc?" Tom explained.

"Tom, I am so sorry to hear about that! Yes, let me look at my list of medication that I recommend for pain. Oh yes, so here is a prescription for Fentanyl, it is an Opioid medication, but it will take care of the pain" Rodney replied.

"Wait, you're prescribing me an Opioid? Doc, I'm not sure if I want to be taking something that can be addictive. I mean, have you seen the news recently? With all of those cases of addic-"

"Don't worry about those, you will be fine. Plus, even the companies in big Pharma have said that they are safe. Heck, this one doctor, Dr. Portenoy, wrote this whole paper talking about how Opioids were safe to be taken for long periods of time (Gupta)" Rodney explained.

"Well, when did he say that" Tom asked.

"1986, but you'll be fine. Don't worry (Gupta)" Rodney replied.

"Ok Doc, if I have any problems, I'll let you know. Thanks" Tom said, and left the room, prescription in hand.

3 Month Later

"Hi Tom, how are you feeling?" Rodney asked.

"I'm feeling ok, but I was recently fired from my job" Tom replied.

"What happened?"

"My boss fired me because I wasn't ready to go back to work" Tom said.

"Why were you not ready to go back to work?" Rodney asked.

"I just didn't feel ready"

"Were you still in pain?" Rodney asked.

"No, I just didn't feel ready to go back. Also, Doc, can you get me a refill of Fentanyl quick, I'm feeling nauseous right now" Tom asked.

"But Fentanyl doesn't help with nausea" Rodney responded.

"PLEASE" Tom begged.

"Ok, ok, here is the prescription. If you need anything, don't hesitate to come back"

"Thanks Doc"

Tom left, and as Rodney walked out of the room, his friend Sam pulled him to the side.

"Hey Rodney, do you mind coming over here for a sec" Sam asked.

"Sure, what's up?"

"Is that man ok, he doesn't look right"

"Yeah, he's fine" Rodney replied.

"What is wrong?" Sam asked.

"He has chronic back pain, so I prescribed him Fentanyl" Rodney replied.

"That's an opioid. Have you been watching him closely?" Sam asked.

"Yeah, he's doing ok"

"Are you sure he isn't showing any signs of addiction?"

"He's fine. Plus he couldn't afford the treatment even if he was addicted anyway. Those medicines like Methadone, Buprenorphine, and Naltrexone are so hard to get anyway, and so expensive. Like literally, only a few programs have those, and their private programs" Rodney explained.

"Are you sure?" Sam asked once more.

"He's fine Sam, don't worry about it" Rodney said, and walked away.

Sunday Morning

Rodney opened the Sunday paper and read the sports section. He almost always skipped the obituary section, but something told him to read it today. As he looked at it, he saw Tom's face in the paper.

"Tom Parnel, 32, died of Opioid overdose" it said.

Rodney looked away.

For Further Reading

Aljazeera "Oklahoma ruling sets stage for more legal action over opioids"

Familydoctor.org "Opioid Addiction"

Gupta "Gupta: Doctors must lead us out of our opioid abuse epidemic"

NIH "Medications to Treat Opioid Use Disorder"

NIH "Opioid Overdose Crisis"

Tedeschi "The news industry was complicit in the opioid crisis"

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