History of pharmacy addiction in the USA
History of pharmacy addiction in the USA

On September 1, 2011, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Center of Disease Control and Prevention) officially announced that an epidemic of drug addiction was raging in the country. Before considering what is happening now, a little history. In the 18th century, opium was widely used in American medicine. By the end of the century, it became clear that it was addictive.

In 1805, they learned to get morphine from opium and, oddly enough, they began to treat opium addicted people with it. It was soon discovered, however, that morphine was ten times more euphoric than opium.

Morphine was widely used for pain relief during the Civil War (1861-1865), as a result of which, after the war, a whole army of drug addicts appeared in America. In 1874 heroin was synthesized, and in 1898 it appeared on the market.

It was then advertised as a miracle cure for all diseases. They were "treated" for headaches, colds, and even addiction to morphine. The result was dire, and in 1924 the sale and manufacture of heroin in the United States was completely banned.

Remembering what the widespread use of opioids led to in the past, American physicians began to use narcotic drugs with greater caution.

They began to be given only to patients with cancer in the last stage, with severe injuries, extensive burns, and also for a short time after operations. This approach existed until the early 90s of the last century.

And in the 2000s, doctors again distributed opioids to their patients, like candy, in huge quantities.

In 2011 alone, 219 million prescriptions for narcotic painkillers were issued for a country's population of 310 million. If in 1999 there were 4,000 deaths as a result of an overdose of painkillers, then in 2013 - 16,235.

What made doctors change their approach to these drugs and thus return to the 19th century? In the early 90s, a drug appeared called oxycontin or oxycodone.

OxyContin is the name of a drug whose active ingredient is oxycodone. Oxycodone is heroin, but only synthetic and officially approved for use.

And since OxyContin dissolves very slowly in the stomach, this means that a single dose of this drug may contain a large dose of oxycodone.

Pharmaceutical companies have had to work hard to change the mindset of doctors and society, and thus promote their products on the market.

Through advertising, people began to convince people that, they say, almost every third American allegedly suffers from unbearable chronic pain, but this problem supposedly has a very effective and simple solution - a pill.

“Chronic pain? Stop suffering and start living,”said a typical advertisement of the time.

Medicine textbooks and scientific medical journals began to promote the idea that absolutely all types of pain should be treated with narcotic drugs, and doctors should not be afraid to constantly increase the dose.

Investigative journalism claims the curriculum change was funded by drug companies.

For clarity, at the seminars for doctors, the following stage performances were played: the patient admits to the doctor that he takes more painkillers than he was prescribed; followed by an explanation that the doctor in this situation simply needs to increase the dose of the drug.

If a drug addict who is on illegal drugs does not take the dose, withdrawal symptoms begin. Those who take prescription pain relievers also suffer from the same breakdowns.

New textbooks for doctors began to assert that withdrawal symptoms in drug addicts are a sign of addiction, and withdrawal symptoms in patients taking painkillers are supposedly not a sign of dependence, but a sign of "pseudo-dependence" - this is the term that was coined to promote the idea of ​​widespread use. opioids in medicine. "Pseudo-addiction" is supposedly not scary.

In 1998, the government agency that issues licenses and oversees doctors' activities officially announced that doctors were allowed to prescribe large doses of narcotic drugs to treat pain.

As a result, patients with the usual back pain, which everyone has from time to time, began to prescribe such doses of opioids, which were previously given only to cancer patients in the last stage, on the one hand.

On the other hand, they began to intensively form the opinion that if a doctor refuses a patient in narcotic drugs to treat pain, then this doctor is not only incompetent, but also immoral and cruel and deserves a fair punishment.

And the punishment was not long in coming. In 1991, a lawsuit was held in North Carolina, which awarded compensation to the patient's family in the amount of $ 7.5 million for not giving the patient enough pain medication.

In 1998, a similar process took place in California. The hospital was ordered to pay the patient $ 1.5 million in compensation for the doctor's failure to give him enough analgesics.

At the same time, in the 2000s, there were more than four hundred individual lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies, in which it was alleged that painkillers were harmful to health. But none of these individual claims have been won.

Doctors became afraid to deny drugs to a patient.

Doctor Anna Lembke, in her book Doctor-Drug Dealer, quotes the words of her patient, who told her directly: “I know that I am a drug addict. But if you don’t give me the painkillers I want, I’ll sue you for making me suffer.”

A concept has appeared, which in English is called doctorshopping. Its essence lies in the fact that people "suffering" from chronic pain go from doctor to doctor and from each receive a prescription for drugs. Some managed to get prescriptions for 1,200 narcotic pills a month from sixteen different doctors.

Some of these pills were taken by the pain sufferers themselves, some were sold. One such pill costs thirty dollars on the street; in some cities in the 2000s, the price per tablet dropped to ten dollars due to the increase in supply.

Like mushrooms, clinics began to emerge that specialized exclusively in the "treatment" of chronic pain. Such clinics are popularly called pillmill (tablet mill).

There were especially many such clinics in Florida, since there was no even the most basic control over the distribution of narcotic painkillers.

In these clinics in Florida, visitors from states that had at least some minimal control were especially fond of "treating", as a result of which the state of Kentucky became one of the most affected states from drug addiction.

Those who know English can easily find the OxyContinExpress movie on YouTube. This film was once shown on local television in Florida and details the "tablet mills".

It became clear that it was impossible to continue prescribing narcotic drugs uncontrollably, therefore, back in 2002, the idea appeared to create a computer database, which would include all prescriptions for opioids, in order to deprive professional "patients" of the opportunity to run from doctor to doctor.

The proposal is reasonable, but the local government in Florida managed to successfully block it until 2009; then it took another year to launch this system.

Politicians who opposed the system cited their fear that cyber terrorists might hack into the system and steal patients' personal data, thereby harming citizens.

According to John Temple, author of American Pain, heroin addiction was a big problem in the 1970s, and he called the 1980s the "crack crisis." (Crack is a slang term for one of the hard drugs.)

In those years, much talked and wrote about the problem of drug addiction. Pharmacy drug addiction in scale significantly surpassed the epidemics mentioned above, but this problem was silent in the 2000s. Why?

In the 70s - 80s, drugs were distributed exclusively by the drug mafia.In the 2000s, the essentially uncontrolled distribution of pharmacy narcotic drugs went with the approval of state supervisory authorities and was theoretically justified in the medical literature.

In 1997, a medical journal published a statement that there was no reason to believe that narcotic pain medications lead to addiction.

Ten years later, in 2007, the court still fined the pharmaceutical company that produces OxyContin $ 635.5 million for knowingly telling the lie that its drug is not addictive.

But the question arises: why were they believed? After all, both the employees of supervisory bodies and the authors of educational programs for medical universities have a medical education, they know perfectly well what ordinary heroin is, and at the same time they easily believed that synthetic heroin allegedly does not cause addiction and its use allegedly does not lead to drug addiction. What is it: incompetence or financial interest?

John Templer, in his book American Pain, provides an interesting statistic. The Drug Enforcement Administration decides how much narcotic substances can be produced.

If the application of a pharmaceutical company for the manufacture of painkillers exceeds the needs of medicine, then they simply refuse to issue a license for this drug. In 1993, only 3,520 kilograms of oxycodone were allowed to be produced.

In 2007, the quota was increased almost 20 times, up to 70,000 kilograms. In 2010, three years after the OxyContin company was fined for cheating, the oxycodone quota was again raised significantly - to 105,000 kilograms, although logically the quota should have been reduced.

The consequences are dire. In the period from 2000 to 2014, 500 thousand people died from an overdose. Of these, 175 thousand - from an overdose of painkillers purchased on a prescription. As for the remaining 325,000, most of them died from regular heroin.

But now the figure officially appears in the literature - 75%. This is the number of heroin addicts who began their journey into the world of drug addiction with a prescription for pain relievers.

Thus, it is easy to calculate that out of 500 thousand people who died from an overdose, 418 thousand began to use drugs in one way or another through the fault of people in white coats, or, better to say, through the fault of those who forced doctors to hand out pills like candy.

These are losses in the first 14 years of the 21st century. But they began to die from drug addiction back in the 90s and continue to die after the 14th year.

And today all experts agree that the end of the drug addiction crisis is not yet in sight. So in the end, the number of victims can go into the millions.

In addition, statistics only count direct losses: those who died from an overdose. Those who died from diseases acquired as a result of drug use are not included in the statistics.

The second disastrous result: a large number of decent people who were never at risk became drug addicts.

It's one thing when a person leads an immoral lifestyle, hangs around the nightclubs, looking for adventure, and ends up getting addicted to the drug that was offered to him in the alley.

It is quite another matter when a decent family man who works and is deservedly respected in society becomes a lowered drug addict and ultimately dies, squandering all his savings due to the fact that the doctor, whom he completely trusted, wrote him a prescription without warning. that these pills can lead to drug addiction.

In this situation, not only doctors are to blame, but also the American society itself. Twenty-six percent of American teens think the pill is a good learning aid.

American youth born in 1980-2000 think that chemistry can make life more comfortable.Chemistry refers to the entire spectrum of psychotropic drugs, ranging from antidepressants and sleeping pills to opioid pain relievers.

But the use of these drugs leads to addiction and provokes the transition to heavier drugs. You need to understand that in a society in which this opinion prevails, there will always be many drug addicts, just as there will always be alcoholics in a society in which it is believed that a holiday without alcohol is not a holiday.

The measures that were taken after it was announced in 2011 that the situation with drug addiction in the pharmacy was out of control are only cosmetic in nature. Now doctors, when writing a prescription for an opioid pain reliever, are required to warn the patient about the risk of becoming dependent on the drug.

Before that, distributing painkillers left and right for twenty years, they had not been warned about this. Also, all states now have a computer database that records all prescriptions for narcotic drugs, so running from doctor to doctor is no longer possible.

In general, fewer prescriptions have begun to be written, but there is no question of returning to the old standards that were adopted before the early 90s, although it is known for sure that even one prescription can lead to addiction.

Since there is now no opportunity to run from doctor to doctor, it means, most likely, those who liked to "treat" pain, will switch to illegal heroin faster.

Anyone who was in an American hospital knows: every four hours, or even more often, a nurse asks the patient if nothing hurts, and if it hurts, asks to rate the pain on a scale from zero to ten, where zero is the complete absence of pain, and ten is the most unbearable pain imaginable.

Often, the patient looks completely comfortable and enjoys watching TV or even laughing while talking on the phone, and at the same time says that he has back pain 10 out of 10.

And the nurse without any problems gives him a dose of morphine intravenously, although this patient came to the hospital to treat not the back, but something else, for example, the heart.

This pain scale was introduced in 2001 as the current crisis was gaining momentum. Today, many doctors openly say that this scale has no practical meaning, it only leads to an increase in drug use. But nevertheless, no one in the supervisory authorities stutters about its cancellation, although it has been six years since the state of emergency was declared.

In 2011, an official report titled "Pain Relief in America" ​​was published, claiming that 100 million Americans suffer from "debilitating chronic pain," and the document is still cited today.

100 million is one in three, including children. This means that every third American, following the logic of the report, must constantly roll on the floor and writhe in pain.

The absurdity of this statement should be understandable even for a person with four grades of education, but such statements are made by leading doctors to once again say that the American society allegedly cannot do without the widest use of opioid painkillers. And this figure has not yet been officially refuted.

The American society understands the seriousness of the epidemic of the drugstore and the heroin addiction it provokes; at the same time, more and more people are coming to the conclusion that the way out of this situation is the complete and unconditional legalization of marijuana.

She, they say, also relieves pain, and at the same time is supposedly safe. Today, people who want to earn billions of dollars are spending huge amounts of money on the propaganda of marijuana if it is fully legalized.

So history repeats itself again, and in the near future we can expect only a new round of drug addiction.

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