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Dirty Business of Getting Clean: Florida's Drug Treatment Scandal

The death of a young woman in Florida has her parents questioning how the state’s drug rehab facilities are regulated — or not. According to NBC.com, the facilities use deceptive websites to lure patients with the best insurance, and then make astronomical charges for questionable services. Anyone with a little cash can open a treatment center in Florida, NBC says, and people desperate to get clean are dying, instead, when they check in to these places.

Drug overdoses are now the ninth leading cause of death, and the fact that unscrupulous people looking to make a buck on people desperate to get clean are in effect killing them is nauseous. Obviously, the state needs to get a grip on what’s happening there, and address this issue immediately.

In the meantime, the country as a whole needs to hold the drug industry responsible for this epidemic, rather than rewarding it. Americans use the most opioids of any nation; in 2013, 16,000 Americans died from overdosing on narcotic painkillers, and it’s the drug industry that created the opioid addiction epidemic by introducing long-acting opioid painkillers like OxyContin and changing pain prescription guidelines to make opioids the first choice for many types of chronic pain.

The industry also promoted the long-term use of opioids, even though there’s no long-term evidence of their safety and effectiveness, and downplayed the risk of addiction to these drugs. Yet, instead of clamping down on Big Pharma money, the U.S. government has approved opioid legislation that feeds profits right back to the industry by focusing on treatment for painkiller addiction and making anti-addiction drugs more easily available.

Meanwhile, low-cost medical marijuana is listed as a Schedule I controlled substance, alongside heroin, LSD and Ecstasy. This really defies all common sense and logic. Schedule I controlled substances have a "high potential for abuse" and "no accepted medical use," while marijuana is unlikely to kill you if you take very high amounts — which leaves but one question to be answered. Since research has found that medical marijuana lowers prescription drug use — and ultimately drug company profits — could that be why medical marijuana hasn't been rescheduled?
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