Share the News LikeBy R Carter In the United States, the opioid crisis has passed into the pages of our history and is now a mostly forgotten topic. It’s an issue I started talking about in 2019 as many in the chronic pain community had reached such levels of apathy or…
Share the News LikeA new publication from the Trust for America’s Health[i], TFAH.org, a non-partisan public health policy, research, and advocacy organization, shows that deaths from alcohol, drugs, and suicides have leveled off for the first time since when records were first kept in 1999. In 2018, more than 150,000 Americans…
I’m continuously amazed by the manner in which denial and irrational thought play out in individual behavior. Given the right circumstances, no one is immune from it and sometimes it can even have beneficial side-effects and outcomes, but in regards to COVID-19 and our government’s response to opioids when treating painful conditions, duplicity has been exposed.
In 2016 as part of the urgent response to the epidemic of opioid overdose deaths, the CDC issued new recommendations for prescribing opioid medications for chronic pain, excluding cancer, palliative, and end-of-life care. While not law or regulations which carry the weight of law, the CDC guidelines have been widely adopted by state medical boards and implemented by regulation with the force of law. The word guideline(s) is used 173 times throughout the publication. the word recommend or recommendation is used 237 times, the word should 227 times, and the word taper or tapering 58 times. Despite these cautionary words, practitioners, hospitals, and clinics abruptly terminated patient medications resulting in a rash of suicides across the U.S. with the last reported count being in excess 1,500 deaths in 2018, and they experimented in performing surgeries without the use of opioids for post-op pain management. Due to these rash actions, the CDC had to issue an erratum revision of the guidelines stressing that the guidelines were for general practitioners treating chronic pain not acute pain. The erratum provided guidelines for a staged reduction with frequent reassessments of the patient’s condition. As of 2020 it’s estimated that more than 1,000,000 individuals are no longer employed, forced into lower-paying jobs, onto welfare rolls, or into early retirement on reduced Social Security Benefits do to these actions. With the number of prescriptions written now down by more than 33% the overdose death rate continues to climb. The CDC routinely archives publications, for this reason, the entire publication has been copied here.
From 2013 to 2017, the number of opioid-involved overdose deaths in the United States increased 90%.
CDC study raises questions on the need for continued efforts to reduce the supply side of prescribed opioids and the continued funding of PDMP programs.
Opioid-Involved Overdose Deaths with Fentanyl or Fentanyl Analogs Detected in 28 States and the District of Columbia, July 2016–December 2018
Approximately two-thirds of the 70,237 U.S. drug overdose deaths reported in 2017 involved opioids. Since 2013, opioid-involved overdose deaths involving illicitly manufactured fentanyl has sharply increased. Fentanyl analogs are structurally similar to fentanyl but vary in potency, are primarily illicitly distributed, and require specific postmortem toxicology testing for detection. Deaths involving fentanyl analogs, particularly carfentanil, increased in 10 states during 2016–2017 and often co-occurred with fentanyl.
As of 2020, there are still publications from official sources such as the DEA, CDC, NIDA, NIH, and SAMHSA which continue to label the opioid overdose crisis as a prescription drug problem. While I agree that prescription drugs were a contributor at the beginning in 1999, efforts to limit the supply side, close loopholes in our healthcare system that encouraged abuse from within healthcare and from outside, all have had dramatic effects on reducing the availability of prescription opioids. As of 2013, according to the CDC, its now a fentanyl problem, none-the-less the message to the public remains one as a prescription drug problem. Here, in the governments own words, are all the reasons this is an unlikely scenerio.
Nationwide the addiction rate to alcohol runs at 6.6%, with Ohio’s 1.9 million population that’s 6,600 alcohol-dependent individuals per 100,000 population or 125,400 people. Whereas opioid addiction, from both illegal and prescription sources, runs at 0.78% for 780 opioid-dependent Ohioans. It’s estimated the contribution from prescribed opioids is 100 times less than that. This means alcohol addiction is 84o times more prevalent than addiction to prescribed opioids.
The Franklin County Coroner’s Office said Saturday there’s been a recent spike in suspected overdose deaths. The coroner warns that recent social distancing can possibly trigger substance use.