January 5, 2016
Dr. Michael J. O’Connell, New Hampshire recently commented that the horn blowing by politicians and law enforcement over “complicity of physicians in the heroin crisis” is an attempt to affix and thereby shift blame for the recent spate of overdose deaths. The current theory goes that by ‘over-prescribing’ opioids to patients in the ER, post operatively for pain control, and in family practitioner offices for chronic maladies, that the consumers ‘become’ addicts, get ‘hooked’. This is utter nonsense, and for which there is not one shred of evidence. While an understandable layman’s intuitive conclusion, but nonsense nonetheless.
Perhaps officials, governors, drug czars and police chiefs alike, are too familiar with the old model of blaming the demon alcohol for the alcoholic. To blame prescriptions for opioid addiction and Jack Daniels for alcoholism is like blaming a deck of cards for a gambling addiction. It’s like blaming malls for compulsive shopping, or restaurants for obesity.
Addiction is an extremely complex condition, and reducing it to a simple ‘cause and effect’, while serving the accusers very well, does nothing to solve the problem of addiction. Addiction requires a susceptible individual (the right combination of social experience and genetic makeup), stress, and yes, availability of agent. With respect to availability of opioids, they always have been, whether by black market or by prescription or by cultivating poppies. Nothing has changed in overall availability in a century.