Unintended Consequences

The history of drug policy and addiction has been rife with unintended consequences. The “fifth vital sign,” misguided efforts to address the very real problem of chronic pain and horribly wrong claims about the non-addictive nature of opioids helped to get us into the current crisis. Moving forward, we must do a better job of anticipating and working to avoid unintended consequences. These stories shed light on the kinds of issues we must prevent. 

76 billion opioid pills: Newly released federal data unmasks the epidemic


A stunning revelation that exposes the magnitude of the pharmaceutical industry abuse that helped kick off the opioid crisis. In a short six year period, enough opioids were pushed to give every man, woman and child in the country more than 200 pills each.  The article paints a picture of massive abuse by a handful ...Read more

Employers: Use caution when dealing with prescription drug users


The latest battlefield in the war with the opioid epidemic may be the commercial front. Businesses, big and small, are being sued for what was once considered usual practices. Activities including blanket drug testing, questioning employees about the prescription medications they take, as well as changing a company's policy that requires employees to disclose prescription ...Read more

Opioids continue to cause unintended consequences


A sad reminder that widespread use of prescription drugs comes with unintended consequences that often show up in the most unanticipated ways.  The message of this story is not merely a disturbing footnote to the current opioid crisis. It serves as a reminder to communities and policymakers that if we implement widespread use of opioids ...Read more

More children poisoned by buprenorphine

This is a sobering reminder that buprenorphine and Suboxone are themselves opioids and that historically all broad distribution of opioids comes with unintended consequences. The study covered in this article reveals that 11,275 children were exposed to these drugs resulting in a call to poison control centers between 2007 and 2016. For those children under ...Read more

VIDEO: Is an Opioid and Heroin Addiction a Symptom or a Disease?

Dr. Eric Berg asks, "Are addictions a symptom or a disease?" His video provides a simple explanation of what addiction is and how to address it. Dr Berg states, "The drug approach doesn't lead to an ultimate solution of a drug free body." The video below provides an example of possible choices in addiction treatment. ...Read more

What caused the opioid crisis?


This article provides a summary of key factors that contributed to the opioid crisis: In the late 1990s doctors were pressured to treat chronic pain more aggressively and prescribed OxyContin in particular, as pharmaceutical companies claimed it was not addictive or harmful.  From that time until 2015, many doctors prescribed opioids that were either unnecessary ...Read more

Experts: Prince toxicology report shows very high drug level


This story confirms a report that was released six weeks after Prince's death that blamed fentanyl but provides specific figures on fentanyl levels found in Prince's blood, liver and stomach.  The article also says the lead prosecutor in the county where Prince dies is reviewing the data to determine if anyone should be charged.  This ...Read more

The horrible reality of maintenance opioid replacement drugs


This detailed article focuses on the important issue of class and race discrepancies in the availability of opioid treatment but tangentially gives a rather stark and disturbing view of what life is like on maintenance forms of Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT). Specifically, the following:  The article only makes passing reference to counseling offered to those on ...Read more

A true tale of science succumbing to marketing

Many people are familiar, thanks originally to Sam Quinones' Dreamland, of the twisted and often intentional misrepresentation of a 101-word letter to the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) which was used to propel and justify massive over-drugging of Americans with opioids.  In the following post, Mr. Quinones provides a follow-up to the story -- the NEJM's ...Read more

6 years later, 5 NYC doctors charged with taking fentanyl prescription kickbacks


This article highlights two problems associated with making opioids more available in communities -- as is being requested by backers of Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT). By definition MAT involves dispensing intoxicating, addictive drugs. The purpose is to replace heroin and other drugs of abuse but are MAT drugs are themselves addictive and subject to abuse.  Communities ...Read more