What caused the opioid crisis?

Summary and Analysis…

This article provides a summary of key factors that contributed to the opioid crisis:

  1. 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.
  2. From that time until 2015, many doctors prescribed opioids that were either unnecessary or were prescribed for longer periods than needed. Both of these actions helped to generate addiction. Some people began misusing opioids that had been prescribed to family or friends.
  3. Later, as doctors were pressured to not prescribe these drugs so readily existing addicts began turning to heroin or black market fentanyl, a drug that is 30 to 50 times more powerful than heroin.

There are many cautionary lessons to be learned from recent history, not least of which are the dangers of unintended consequences. Today, as we see Big Pharma and key political leaders making strong pitches for widespread distribution of more opioids to “treat” opioid addiction, communities and other stakeholders are well-advised to proceed with caution. Both methadone and Suboxone have been widely abused on the black market.

Excerpted from The Hill

An opioid crisis gripped the U.S. long before President Trump declared it a public health emergency late last year.

Deaths from opioids have quadrupled since 1999, killing more than 42,000 people in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The opioid epidemic is now considered to be the deadliest drug overdose crisis in American history, and it is the driving force behind drug overdoses now being the leading cause of death for Americans under 50.

How did this begin?

It began in the late 1990s, when doctors and health care providers started facing pressure to treat chronic pain more aggressively.

Advocates began encouraging doctors to treat pain as a “fifth vital sign” and recommended the long-term use of opioids — such as OxyContin — for all chronic pain.

At the same time, pharmaceutical companies began marketing these drugs to medical providers as not addictive or harmful.