The Stanton Peele Addiction Website, April 20, 2011. This blog post also appeared on Stanton's blog at The Huffington Post website.
Finally: Obama to Eliminate Narcotic Abuse!
The Obama Administration, which has lately been distinguishing itself by its raids on medical marijuana dispensaries -- while arrests for marijuana possession rise to record heights around the country -- is now taking on prescription narcotics misuse.
Thank God -- soon no more drug abuse!
To cap off its anti-drug reputation, this administration is trying to cut off rising rates of abuse of prescribed meds by imposing tough rules on distribution of synthetic narcotics, like OxyContin, through legislation requiring training for doctors who prescribe such powerful painkillers.
What is the primary source of these dangerous drugs? According to the Times, "In the last decade, the abuse of pain medications like OxyContin has remained at epidemic levels, as medical experts have expressed concern that the legitimate use of the drugs may also pose patient risks."
What's that last sentence mean? Just giving people narcotics, even in legitimate medical settings, can result in negative consequences, including addiction? You mean even if a drug is prescribed, it can be abused?
Say, isn't there a much longer history of addiction to painkillers than there is to marijuana? Why should that reality -- or history -- suddenly change?
So, let's see. Americans are becoming more dependent on drugs, despite years -- decades -- of our War on Drugs. Somehow, confiscating marijuana, cocaine, and illicit painkillers has not reversed our addictive proclivities.
But, now, legislation that requires training physicians about narcotics should do the job.
Say, don't doctors learn about narcotics in medical school? Hasn't such instruction occurred to anybody in the more than a century since heroin was isolated from morphine, or when Demerol was introduced 75 years ago?
Do you see where I'm going? We can't grasp how to prevent drug abuse, deal with drugs, and prevent addiction. It's a cultural malady -- indeed, psychiatrist and historian David Musto labeled narcotic addiction "The American Disease" in his 1973 book of that name (the third edition was published in 1999).
Musto's book is subtitled: "Origins of Narcotic Control." It tells the tale of how Americans became the first nation to systematically ban narcotics and prosecute narcotics users, even though narcotics have been used since antiquity. Somehow, Americans have developed a special relationship with these drugs that evades all efforts at education and legal control.
And the current era, in which these drugs are propagated, promoted, widely prescribed, and incessantly relied on, is no exception.
But, don't worry -- we're on it!