I wrote this piece over 3 years ago and the Tsunami of Heroin/Opioid addiction has grown ten fold.
I recently had the privilege of being on the Dr. Oz show to talk about the abuse of prescription opioids and how they can potentially lead to Heroin addiction. It was a short interview segment which allowed me little time to talk about how deep this rabbit hole goes. This country is obsessed with the celebrity culture, wanting to know more and more about how they live and what they do, so when someone like Philip Seymour Hoffman dies from a heroin overdose we are shocked that someone so talented, so popular, so rich and so successful was a heroin addict.
This incident revealed the Tsunami of heroin addiction and opioid prescription abuse that is flooding our homes, schools and the workplace. This prescription opioid abuse is creating millions of potentially new customers for the Heroin trade. These new customers don’t look like the Heroin addicts of old. They’re professionals, suburban housewives, and that nice neighbor next door. Things are different today than back in my day of using.
When I was injecting heroin in the 60’s and early 70’s there no options other than going uptown to Harlem, east or west, it didn’t matter, or certain neighborhoods in Brooklyn like the Marcy Street projects in Williamsburg. Whenever I went to these neighborhoods to cop (buy) heroin I stood out like a white marble among all the black and brown ones. It was always dangerous to go into these neighborhoods but I was a Junkie who had one and only one thought and that was to get high and to stop the sickness that would be coming on like a freight train when my last fix was wearing off. This was the life of a Junkie back then. Back in my day the drinkers and pot smokers wanted nothing to do with a strung out Junkie.
There were a small handful of corrupt doctors in each of the Boroughs that would write a prescription for Dolophines which was one of the earliest forms of Methadone. Once I had the prescription I went to the handful of Pharmacies that carried this highly addictive narcotic and would accept the prescriptions with no questions asked. It was a small world of Doctors and Pharmacies that helped this Junkie survive.
This is no longer the case, times have greatly changed.
*On May 11th 2007 the New York Times published an article which explains why a $634,000,000.00 fine was paid by Purdue Pharma the manufacturer of OxyContin and three of its top executives.
JOHN BROWNLEE, U.S. Attorney, Virginia: Despite knowing that OxyContin contained high concentrations of oxycodone, had an abuse potential similar to that of morphine, and was at least as addictive as other pain medications on the market, Purdue, beginning in January of 1996, with the intent to defraud and mislead, marketed and promoted OxyContin as less addictive, less subject to abuse and diversion, and less likely to cause tolerance and withdrawal than other pain medications.
*Online Wall Street Journal Article By Michael Howard Saul – March 16, 2011 12:01 a.m. ET
In 2010, more than 1 million prescriptions for oxycodone—the generic name for an opiate-based pain reliever commonly prescribed as OxyContin—were filled in the five boroughs, Bridget Brennan, the city’s special narcotics prosecutor, told the City Council’s Public Safety Committee.
That equates to one prescription for every eight people in New York City, or 13% of the total population.
There are new opiate addicts every day with help from the multi billion dollar drug manufacturers, their distribution centers and National chain store Pharmacies. This could not be happening without Doctors/Dentists writing the millions of prescriptions for highly addictive opioids. For the most part, these Doctors/Dentists have the best intentions at heart which is to help their patients better manage their pain. The majority of these family practice doctors and Dentists have little or no training about these highly addictive drugs as well as having little knowledge of addiction itself. There are also the “Pain Management” clinics and Doctors that are prescribing unbelievable amounts of these highly addictive drugs. All of these Opioid prescribed drugs end up in the medicine cabinets in homes all across this country. This leads to more abuse by the High School and College age children who live in these homes and have easy access to these highly addictive Opioids.
One of the examples I personally know of was a male patient who was 50 years old who went to a “Pain Management” Dr. for lower back pain. This Dr. ended up prescribing 90- 80mg OxyContin’s along with 60 Fentanyl Patches a month. As unbelievable as this sound, it is happening every day across this country. This particular patient every month sold half of his OxyContin’s for $50 each and half his patches for $50 each. When OxyContin’s and Fentanyl patches cost $50 and a good bag of Heroin costs $10, the choice is a simply an economic one for the opiate addict whose tolerance grows every day. This simple economic reality is the force creating the newest heroin epidemic we are seeing today across this country.
How does the pharmaceutical industry help all these heroin and opioid addicts with their addiction? They come up with Suboxone, another highly addictive semi synthetic opioid to treat opioid addiction. That’s like treating a gunshot in the foot caused by a 45 caliber gun, by shooting the same foot with a 22 caliber gun. Sounds crazy? It is, but Suboxone is now big business.
We live in a culture that has been sold on the belief that a better, happier, healthier, stronger and sexier life can be achieved by Pharmacology. If you’re overweight there are diet medications to lower your craving for food. If you have high blood pressure, cholesterol etc., there is a pill that can fix that too. If you’re in pain to any degree there is an opioid just for you. If you become addicted to opioids we have Suboxone. If your muscles aren’t big enough we have steroids. If you’re unable to perform sexually, there is Viagra. If your child shows signs of ADD we have Adderall. If you have trouble sleeping, we have Ambien. The list goes on and on and on.
People tell me “You’re blowing this out of proportion”, my reply to them is “I’m blowing this up to proportion”