So, about this ‘prescription opioid crisis’…
I started to compile a bunch of statistics like real journalists do, but I decided not to ‘cuz that’s boring. So I’ll take the ‘Andy Rooney’ approach instead, and write from personal observation and experience. (Writing is more personal that way, I think.)
I’ve NEVER been a drug addict. But I am a career construction worker… which means I’ve been prescribed my fair share of opioids over the years. Broken bones, lacerations, sprains, back pulls, soft-tissue injuries… you name it, I’ve had it. I’m middle-aged, and I’ve been in construction since I was fifteen. You get banged around a lot in my profession.
I’ve also met my fair share of junkies. Not only because of my line of work, but because of where I grew up; I’m a native of an East Coast port city. Where there’s commerce there’s crime, and where there’s crime there are less-than-legal substances.
So yeah, I’ve run across more than a few drug-addled people in my day.
Here’s one thing that interests me about this proclaimed ‘opioid crisis’… I detect a subtle element of Class-ism in it. To wit: Where I’m from, you can’t throw a brick without hitting a crack-head. They’re piled up like cord-wood on every street corner. Rail-thin with crusty lips, always begging for money (or offering sex for the same)… they’re inescapable! And no one cares. There is no national ‘crack crisis’ that I can see. Is it because crack-heads come from the segment of society that criminologists call the ‘less dead’? People who don’t work, don’t pay bills or taxes. These people are truly dismissible, no matter how much pain they suffer.
But the ‘prescription opioid crisis’ hits middle-class, working taxpayers… THIS is a ‘crisis’!
But here’s the dark side of the ‘prescription opioid’ hysteria: Innocent people are suffering.
Twice, while building a local athletic complex, I suffered severe back pulls. (Both were repetitive-motion injuries.) My medical reports clearly described a number of muscles as ‘severely inflamed’. In both cases, I was out of work for a week… and the doctors sent me home with Ibuprofen. When I asked my doctors why I wasn’t being given something for the pain, I was told that ‘I might re-injure myself’…
Doing WHAT, lying on my couch?!
On both occasions, my doctors (paid by North Dakota’s worker safety insurance) sent me home in excruciating pain, when a mere two-day supply of Vicodin would have made me comfortable. I suffered terribly because my doctors were paranoid about handing out opioids.
According to Becker’s Hospital Review, your average ND doctor makes $225,840 per year. They’re getting skittish about giving opioids to genuinely injured patients, and not because they’re trying to save us all from addiction. They’re protecting their own lavish lifestyles, and in so doing they’re violating their Hippocratic Oath: ‘Do no harm’.
It’s better to let the Guilty go free than to harm the Innocent… and by withholding opioids from the truly injured, doctors have now inadvertently become sadists.