What’s really causing the prescription drug crisis?
There are two quite different stories about why there is a prescription drug crisis in the United States, and why opioid-related deaths have quadrupled since 1999. At some level, you are probably aware of both. Earlier this year, I interviewed people in the New Hampshire towns worst affected by this crisis — from imprisoned addicts to grieving families. Even the people who were living through it would alternate between these stories, without seeing that, in fact, they clash, and imply the need for different solutions. Thousands of lives depend on which of these tales is correct.
God bless Johann Hari, everything he writes is the most erudite and prudent commentary on the so-called “opioid crisis”, and this one is another good one.
is a coherent story, put forward by serious and thoughtful people. But
there are some key facts that don’t fit. Here’s one: Doctors in many
parts of the world — including Canada and some European countries —
prescribe far more powerful opiates than their peers in the United
States. There, if you get hit by a car and you break your hip, you’ll
likely be given diamorphine (the medical name for heroin) to manage your
pain. Some people take it for long periods. If what we’ve been told is
right, they should become addicted in huge numbers.But
this doesn’t occur. the Canadian Journal of Medicine summarized the
best evidence, explaining, “there was no significant risk of addiction, a
finding common to all studies.”“