America has a pain killer problem. And it’s killing us.
The just-released statistics are truly shocking: in 2015, while more than 52,000 Americans died from drug overdoses, two-thirds of those deaths were attributable to opioids like Percocet, OxyContin, heroin, and fentanyl.
We are losing tens of thousands of Americans a year to opioid overdose, which is more than die from gun homicides or car crashes. We are losing more Americans to overdose from “legal” than from illegal drugs.
What do we do about this? While there is no magical, quick-fix solution, it is clear that we must immediately get to work doing the following:
- Educate. Most in our society-including adults, who are frequently the victims of fatal opioid overdoses-have no idea of the dangers of these drugs.
- Treatment for those who are addicted. Let’s all keep our eye on the massive overhaul of our health care system currently working its way through Congress. Does it provide adequate resources to fight this epidemic? Call/write/visit your US Senator or Congressman, to insist that these programs be funded. This epidemic is killing people in both red and blue states. Let’s not make it political.
- Prosecute doctors who over-prescribe opioids, and anyone else responsible for the over-distribution of opioids.
- Hold the drug companies, the opioid makers, and profiteers-accountable in the civil courts. They are the ones who are vigorously marketing the use of these drugs, even though their effectiveness to combat chronic pain is questionable. Death-by-opioid was nowhere near the horrific problem it is today until the drug companies started their massive campaign to promote physician and patient use of opioids. Surely, they bear some responsibility for what is happening.