Sometimes when you try to solve one problem, you end up create an even worse problem. Take the example of the heroin epidemic that has been in the news lately. The DEA ordered the pharmaceutical companies to slash their production of opiate painkillers by at least 25% in 2017, and predicted this would reduce the number of drug addicts in the US. Of course no one wants to see people addicted to medications, or people dying from overdoses. But this DEA order set off a severe over-reaction nationwide.
Anticipating shortages of available medication, doctors and hospital systems began to drastically reduce prescriptions for their patients, switching them to less effective pain medication, or limiting them to 30 days, or even 14 days. Then individual states began to work on legislation to sharply curb legal opiate usage. As of today there are ten states that have passed bills, most of them limiting a patient to seven days of opiate pain relief. At least nine other states are in the process of doing the same. Eventually all the states will likely have similar laws. (see link below for list of states)
I’m not sure if this approach is going to cut down on the amount of drug addicts in the country, especially if they are getting their opiates from a dealer on a street corner, but I am fairly certain that other people will be hurt. People like my mother, who threw her back out horribly while trying to lift a jammed window last year. She was on tramadol for at least two months, and even then she was in so much pain she could barely get out of her chair. The new laws don’t take into account that many senior citizens heal very slowly. Other elderly people I know live with crippling arthritis.
But this won’t affect just the older folks. Many people my age limp around on bad hips or knees for years, have surgery, then continue to have great pain for at least a year while healing from surgery. What about the person who has permanent nerve damage to his legs after a car accident? What about the thousands of people with severe fibromyalgia or people with MS?
- The use of medical marijuana will explode as people search for relief from their pain.
- People who would never think of buying pain medication anywhere but at a pharmacy will be buying it from street dealers.
- You will see people in jail simply because they were desperate to buy pain relievers.
- The rate of suicide will go up as some people decide that they can’t take the pain anymore.
I wish we lived in a world where there was no physical pain, or at least it was minor enough to be taken care of by Tylenol. Sadly, that is not our world. Bad things happen here, like car accidents, debilitating diseases, and pinched nerves. We are supposed to be a compassionate society. Let’s not punish the people who are in legitimate pain by taking a major option away from them and their doctors.