Opinion – Opioid epidemic shares chilling similarities with the past – The Washington Post

English: Three drug addicts seen smoking a hug...

English: Three drug addicts seen smoking a huge amount of crack cocaine, in a downtown eastside alley, in Vancouver BC Canada. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here’s an excellent article by The Washington Post. It reports that while declaring the opioid crisis a national public health emergency, President Donald Trump said: “Nobody has seen anything like what’s going on now.” The article takes a longitudinal perspective, using historic evidence, to challenge Trump’s assertion.

Source: Opioid epidemic shares chilling similarities with the past – The Washington Post

The article is important because it highlights many major drug epidemics in the US, going back to the Civil War. There are a number of recurrent themes, including aggressive marketing from pharmaceutical companies, and the growing importance of illegal drugs. Another recurrent theme is widespread use of drugs in the US miliary, especially in wars.

Unfortunately, the article does not provide a checklist of winning intervention strategies. While there are some clues, it misses the point that perhaps the context has changed. For example, there’s now a global supply-chain of illicit drugs to US addicts and the CIA with its interventions in Afghanistan is an integral player. Also social attitudes are different – the public quickly turned against ‘crack cocaine‘ users but there’s a widespread sympathy for opioid addicts. Recent research by Pew highlights that nearly fifty percent of US families can cite a member with opioid addiction, so perhaps the current crisis is larger as Trump highlighted.

There are many threads to the current US opioid epidemic. Older addicts have typically turned to prescriptions and overzealous doctors and drug companies have rushed to meet their needs. But the more alarming threat is to younger addicts who are turning to imported, illegal drugs.

Perhaps, there’s room to focus on sociological trends in US society that leave the underprivileged, from lower social groupings, light on education and skills, weak on motivation, and deprived of opportunity – all highly vulnerable to drug addiction?

Thoughts?

 

 

To Combat the Opioid Epidemic, We Must Be Honest About All Its Causes – Harvard Business Review

This article in the HBR is worth a read. It argues that doctors, companies, and socioeconomic forces have all played a role in promoting the opioid epidemic.

Source: To Combat the Opioid Epidemic, We Must Be Honest About All Its Causes

Whilst, other countries have problems with opioids, the scale of the US opioid epidemic dwarfs their impact in other countries.

American politics is very divisive, supporting societies winners but the social nets for the less advantaged have been ineffective, especially compared to other advanced countries.

Clearly, opioids are destroying large parts of US society. Sadly, conservative politicians are often more focused on destroying Obamacare, rather than supporting an effective strategy for dealing with the opioid epidemic.

The HBR is right to say that doctors, companies, and socioeconomic forces have all played a role in promoting the opioid epidemic. But the major roadblock is now with the political classes.

Thoughts?