A lot of Americans (especially those who have been somehow harmed or physically hurt by the opioid epidemic or who know someone who has) wake up every morning and wonder how on earth the U.S. opioid epidemic got as bad as it has gotten. Many Americans feel as though this problem has just kind of crept up on them, creating hardship and a level of severity that is unmatched by any other addiction problem. In a lot of ways, this is a unique question and one that a lot of people are asking.
In the news recently, there was a public outcry as a bill was successfully passed that severely limited drug enforcement officers from going after pharmaceutical companies, pharmacies, and doctors alike for the suspicious sale and distribution of prescription painkillers. The White House Office of Management apparently “did not realize” that the policy change last year would constrict the DEA and FDA from holding pharmaceutical entities accountable for their dangerous drugs, but the fact remains that it will be even more difficult to crack down on the proliferation of addictive, pharmaceutical opioids through our society. Even though opioid drugs have killed hundreds of thousands of Americans since they became popular in the U.S. almost twenty years ago, the makers and providers of such powerful poisons are still able to escape justice.
The reason why the opioid epidemic was able to grow so quickly and for so long without any major action taken against it was because the American people and government trusted the pharmaceutical corporations and medical industries to act with our best interests at heart, and to not engage in ruthless profiteering off the backs of millions of Americans, crippled as those Americans were with legalized addictions.
Unfortunately, recent legislation has made opioid pharmaceuticals more available and more affordable, going so far as to make the drugs all but unstoppable for the DEA and Justice Department to inhibit. This is obviously the wrong direction to be going in. It’s time that Americans wake up and see pharmaceutical drug use for what it is, a dangerous habit that could be life-threatening.
When such governmental bureaucracy is able to strip justice branch powers of their rights and jurisdictions to investigate and enforce the law on Big Pharma and the other branches that profit from opioid pharmaceuticals, we know that the system is truly corrupt. The stories of the pill epidemic are truly harrowing, and the fact that these pharmaceuticals are still legal is a true representation of the fact that “money talks.” Money talks, because Congress is chock full of lobbyists and regular donations from pharmaceutical giants.
Though it is common knowledge at this point that our country is suffering from a pretty significant opioid addiction problem, most do not understand the full width and breadth of this crisis. In just the last four years, the overdose rates have skyrocketed out of control, and the nation has been plunged into a status where drug overdoses are the number one, leading cause of deaths across the country. In 2015, overdose rates soared to more than forty-two thousand Americans dead from overdoses, thirty-thousand of them from opioids alone. 2016 saw highest-ever rates of overdose, with more than sixty-four thousand dying from such habits. More than forty-two thousand Americans fell prey to an opioid overdose in 2016.
The shining beacon of truth is that the drugs themselves are the problem and the organizations pushing them are the ones at fault. Fully understanding these truths is what is going to get us through this morass. We need to create and maintain real change here. We need to insist on better futures, better end results, better lifetimes, better health, and far better alternatives in our approach to pain. We need real solutions, not the terrible difficulties that our country struggles with now in just trying to address modern-day pain problems.
We need to demand health care reform, and we need to demand it to the degree of insisting on alternatives to pain management and pain reduction that are completely non-addictive. We need to reduce the demand for opioid painkillers by insisting that better alternatives be available, alternatives that don’t hold a risk for hooking us into addiction and eventually killing us. We need change, and we need it now.