Have you ever seen a movie where someone warns others about a danger and no one listens, then it happens? For the last 20 years I have been warning that doctors (not all of course) have been stupidly and recklessly WAY over prescribing opiates, even though it is highly likley to addict people, ruin their lives and kill them.
It was like watching a head on train wreck about to take place that could have easily be avoided, but was not. As of April 2017 it appears the obvious danger is finally recognized.
Report after report points out, now after it is too late for millions of people, that 91 people a day are dying from drug overdoses, mostly opiate overdoses. And most people that die got hooked by doctors legally prescribing opiates.
The only good article I have ever read in New Republic magazine is the below one:
Heroin epidemics don’t come and go randomly, like the McRib. They have clearly identifiable causes—and in this case, by far the largest cause is doctor-prescribed pills. Every year since 2007, doctors have written more than 200 million prescriptions for opioid painkillers. (Consider that there are 240 million adults in the country.) And about four in five new heroin addicts report that they got addicted to prescription pills before they ever took heroin.
“We seeded the population with opiates,” says Robert DuPont, an addiction doctor who served as drug czar under Presidents Nixon and Ford and who is now a harsh critic of opiate over-prescription. The supply shock from easy access to prescription drugs has pushed heroin use out of cities and into rural and suburban and middle-class areas. Massachusetts reported a staggering 185 heroin deaths outside its major cities since November, and Peter Shumlin, the governor of Vermont, spent his entire “state-of-the-state” address talking about the nearly eightfold increase in people seeking opiate treatment there since 2000. “What started as an OxyContin and prescription-drug addiction problem in Vermont has now grown into a full-blown heroin crisis,” he said. https://newrepublic.com/article/116922/what-makes-heroin-crisis-different-doctor-prescribed-pills
The federal government says that from 1999 to 2015, more than 183,000 people have died in the U.S. from overdoses related to prescription opioids. https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/data/overdose.html
That is more that three times more American deaths that the Vietnam War or the Korean War caused. It is even more American deaths than Adolf Hitler’s armies caused in World War II.
The medical profession needs to be held accountable for this.
It took the intervention of doctors to bring heroin back, with the demographic switcheroo we see coming to fruition today. In 2000, the Joint Commission on Hospital Accreditation released a report concluding that doctors were undertreating chronic pain and that thousands of patients were suffering needlessly. Pharmaceutical companies welcomed the medical profession’s decision to supply those patients with previously unobtainable prescription opiates. Companies zealously promoted these drugs and underplayed their potential to turn patients—and any bored friend or relative who decided to play prescription roulette with the contents of their medicine cabinets—into junkies.
Over the last two decades, pain doctors have been competing with each other to win the business of addicts. At one point, 25 of the top 50 prescribers of opiates in the United States practiced in Broward County, Florida. Some of them boasted that they didn’t even require patients to show ID—a frank admission that the clinics welcomed doctor-shopping addicts and their money. In many cases, they advertised a “No Pill, No Pay” policy. Some doctors still dispense opioids like Pez, and patients know exactly where to find them. “Physicians get their practices reviewed on Yelp, and people who don’t get their opiates give bad reviews,” says Michael Ostacher, an addiction psychiatrist at Stanford. https://newrepublic.com/article/116922/what-makes-heroin-crisis-different-doctor-prescribed-pills
To answer the question: Most Stupid Mistake In 21st Century?
Yes it just might be. Prescribing opiates for pain probably does far more harm than good. If it was reduced 90% without doubt we would be better off. If doctors handed out live hand grenades instead of opiates, it is unlikely that 91 people a day would die from hand grenades.
A pain doctor I have known for 25 years told me a story three months ago. He said that as a new doctor at a pain convention he asked a panel of the top experts that he had noticed that increasing opiate doses did not seem to work. They chided him and said it always works and quoted the studies. Twenty years later he asked the same question to the same three top experts and got a very different answer, the top experts had been totally wrong.
He said he spent the first 15 years of his career getting people on opiates and the last 5 years trying to get them off. He also said if after an operation a patient did not use them at all, that later their pain levels would be less than if they took the painkillers.
What I have observed is that pain killers create more problems than they solve and I just plain do not use them at all. The only time I ever took opiates was after a gallbladder operation. Felt no difference at all. Took four Vicodin pills, stopped but it was too late.
The only reason took them was doctor orders, against my instincts at the time. What followed was the most painful event of my life. Much worse than a kidney stone attack or a gallbladder attack or the operation and have had all three.
Just four Vicodin pills totally put my intestines asleep. Two days later I went into extreme pain beyond words from gas. I then threw up for an hour with four fresh stab wounds in my abs. Then I dry retched for about 3 hours again with the stab wounds. This is a common side effect of opiates.
The truth is in most cases pain killers really are not needed and are as dangerous as juggling with hand grenades. The danger is so obvious why has it been ignored until it was too late for millions?
Rush Limbaugh would have been much better off with no painkillers being prescribed by his doctor after his neck operation. The most popular show on cable in its first year was GoldRush. Two of the main characters said they were morphine addicts because of doctor prescriptions. It goes on and on. There are over two million opiate addicts in America now and over 183,000 have died. That says nothing about the pain caused by the addictions to the families of those who are still alive.