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Society Coming Down

Jeff Campbell

Posted on August 26, 2018 07:31

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As opioid overdose deaths continue to hit record numbers what are we doing to stem the tide and is this the new normal?

As reporting in the New York Times is talking about a record number of overdose deaths in 2017, more than 70,000, it makes one wonder how we arrived at such a crisis over a relatively short time period, and why we are just recently doing anything of significance about it. States that have pursued new major health campaigns to increase treatment have seen some positive results early on, but it’s too soon to tell if there will be a lasting impact.

Analysts say that two major reasons for overdose increases are that more Americans are using opioids, and the advent of ever more deadly synthetics. Leave it to science to figure out, intentionally or not, more effective ways to get hooked and die. Leave it to marketers to make it seem like a great idea.

Back in 1996 Purdue Pharma introduced to the world a drug called OxyContin. Purdue Pharma was purchased in the 1950s by the Sackler brothers who were physicians, and brother Arthur Sackler was also considered a pioneer in pharmaceutical marketing and sales, so much so, that he was inducted into the Medical Advertising Hall of Fame.

Not coincidentally, at the time of Purdue Pharma’s introduction of OxyContin, the company began expanding its sales department. Fast forward to the record number of overdoses and an expose by The New Yorker.

So, we have a perfect storm. No one wants to experience pain. Science invented very effective and addictive pain killers. Fantastic marketing sold the medical community on freely prescribing the pain killers. The government was totally unprepared for the results. Then began the herculean efforts to reverse the tide. Everyone has a role in it -- and a role to play in fixing this deadly epidemic.

The opioid crisis, as it is appropriately called in the media, is eerily emblematic of our society as a whole including failures to take personal responsibility for our own actions, wanting quick fixes that may not be good in the long run, corporate greed and corruption trumping doing what’s right for consumers, overworked staffing looking for an easier route to keep pace, and an ineffectual government that continuously plays partisan political games instead of helping to solve problems.

Then, when it all comes crashing down or reaches crisis stages, we act surprised and appalled and call out the lawyers, like a pack of wolves, to sue somebody.

I would like to think that together we can solve the opioid crisis, but the hurdle in that idea is that we have very little “together” anymore. Many would rather attack the real or perceived culprits on social media and act like they have just accomplished a hard day’s work.

People will say it’s a very complex problem, but the real complexity lies in our self-destructive tendencies to refuse to work with others and compromise when need be. I only hope that we never end up in the scrap heap of failed societies with the epitaph reading “Couldn’t play well with others.”

Jeff Campbell

Posted on August 26, 2018 07:31

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Source: WSJ

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved for sale a monthly injection to treat addiction to heroin and other opioids,...

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