I understand — doctors are responding to the catastrophe of the opioid epidemic. In 2016 alone, more than 42,000 Americans died from opioid overdoses, and about 40 percent of those deaths involved prescription opioids, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. Any American who has turned on a TV or opened a laptop or looked at a smartphone during the past few years knows that opioids such as OxyContin are addictive and potentially deadly. Who has been responsible for the carnage? The greedy drugmakers and equally rapacious doctors? The patients who gamed the system to get more painkillers than they need? Some combination of all of them?
That is for the courts to sort out. Right now, the overprescribing seems to have prompted an overcorrection. I like to think I have an enormous sense of social responsibility, but right now, I’m looking out for me. I don’t want opioids so I can get high or do drug sales. I want them because they can temporarily combat the relentless drag and occasional depression that accompanies injury pain. And forget about me, what about other people with far more intense and/or chronic pain, such as cancer patients, whose suffering tends to be undertreated even without the new wariness of writing opioid prescriptions?
The thing is, there are millions of Americans who aren’t an addiction liability just because they want a narcotics prescription post-injury or post-surgery.