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Don’t Blame Addicts for America’s Opioid Crisis. Here Are the Real Culprits

Hardly a day goes by without news of another opioid addiction story. Most recently President Trump suggested that telling young people that drugs are “no good” is one way to prevent drug addiction. The Guardian, however, takes issue with such a simplistic solution. The real problem, The Guardian says, starts in doctors’ offices and hospitals, where the drugs are prescribed because Americans expect a pill for every ailment, and continues as a business model rather than a health service, with the intense and powerful pharmaceutical lobby pushing the prescribing.

There are so many different ways to approach this, it’s hard to know which “blame” to focus on first. Certainly, the industry that is Big Pharma is a powerful and ruthless entity that has helped sell Americans on the idea there is a pill for every problem — whether it’s physical or emotional. And with deaths from prescription opioids quadrupling since 1999, the industry would be hard-pressed to find a way to back out of its responsibility for creating this travesty.

America’s struggle with opioid addiction is a creature of creative and dishonest promotion of these drugs. The crisis began with the drug companies promoting opioids as not addictive, when in fact they are. And in the addiction’s wake, another threat looms: synthetic (and illegal) opioids sold through the dark web — the secret underbelly of the internet, initially created by American intelligence agencies for encrypted communication purposes. A recent piece by The New York Times reported that synthetic opioids are so potent they "have become the fastest-growing cause of the overdose epidemic, overtaking heroin in some areas."

Many believe the drug companies that create and sell opioids need to be held accountable for America's drug problem, especially since several have been caught lying about the benefits and risks of their drugs. This is why a growing number of U.S. states counties and even individual cities have filed lawsuits against opioid manufacturers for their role in creating the addiction crisis. Meanwhile, with all the health risks associated with opioid painkillers, I strongly urge you to exhaust other options before resorting to these drugs. For a list of alternative pain treatments, please see my previous article, "Treating Pain Without Drugs."
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