THE ‘OPIOID CRISIS’ – A PSYCHOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE
Richard Boudreau, MA, MBA, DDS, MD, JD, PHD, PSYD
Faculty Loyola Marymount Univ. Bioethics Institute
Faculty UCLA Dept. Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery
Are we throwing the baby out with the bathwater? We often do that when there is an event called a ‘crisis.’ We attack symptoms. The government makes policies that are harmful to a large segment of the population and they just don’t get it. Here are a few statements from respected journals: The truth about the US ‘opioid crisis’ – prescriptions aren’t the problem; Opioid Addiction Is a Huge Problem, but Pain Prescriptions Are Not the Cause; Cracking down on highly effective pain medications will make patients suffer for no good reason; overdosing on numerous drugs is an epidemic because millions live in a world without hope, certainty, and structure.
Lewis (1), a neuroscientist and author on addiction, said that the overdose epidemic is real and, in fact, it is unmistakable across the globe. It is driven by the illicit or illegal use of drugs but if moral panic leads to many more people in severe pain, ‘that would be a disaster.’ He points out that the current “opioid crisis” is not the same thing as an ‘overdose crisis.’
One of the striking pieces of datum is that the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 50 is drug overdose. About 63 percent of those people were using a combination of drugs or drugs and alcohol and most of them were involved with illegal drugs like heroin. As for overdosing on prescription drugs, methadone and Oxycontin were at the top of the list and are acquired in illegal ways. According to Lewis, “The most bellicose response to the overdose crisis is that we must stop doctors from prescribing opioids.”
There was an under prescription crisis in most of the 20th century. Chronic and severe pain was undertreated. Think about people with cancer who just had to suffer. Policies did not ease up until the 1970s and 1980s as far as prescribing effective pain medicine due to an opioid scare that was highly publicized.
How to cite this article:
Richard Boudreau. THE ‘OPIOID CRISIS’ – A PSYCHOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE. International Journal of Psychological Research and Reviews, 2018, 1:6
1. Lewis, M. (2018, February). Why are So Many People Dying From Opiate Overdoses? The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jul/10/people-dying-opiate-overdoses-society-drugs.
2. 2. NIH. (2018, March). Opioid Crisis. Retrieved from NIH, National Institute on Drug Abuse. https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs- abuse/opioids/opioid-ove Szalavitz, M. (2016, May 10). Opioid Addiction is a Huge Problem, but Pain Prescriptions are not the Cause. Retrieved from Scientific American. https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/mind-guest- blog/opioid-addiction-is-a-huge-problem-but-pain- prescriptions-are-not-the-cause/rdose-crisis
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