Books, Opioids Opiates, Addiction, Oxycodone

Books, Opioids Opiates

A Doctor’s Guide to What to Read on the Opioid Crisis

In a new column, Prescribed Reading, Abigail Zuger looks at past books that dealt with opioid abuse in order to understand better how we got here.


In a new column, Prescribed Reading, Dr. Abigail Zuger looks at past books that dealt with opioid abuse in order to understand better how we got here

In a new column, Prescribed Reading, Abigail Zuger looks at past books that dealt with opioid abuse in order to understand better how we got here.

Some may wonder what America’s doctors could have been thinking all those years, doling out quantities of potent narcotics like so many aspirin. Granted, a few of us were criminals, methodically defrauding Medicaid in pill-dispensing “mills.” But mostly we were just well-intentioned schlubs with prescription pads, dutifully following then-current practice guidelines.

And, as Lembke points out, doctors are a group chosen for more or less exactly the opposite characteristics. We are habitual pleasers, accustomed — even addicted — to patients’ admiration and gratitude. We like to do what we do well, and most of us don’t do pain well. So it’s no big surprise that when we find ourselves in a pain-filled room we just want to escape fast, and prescribing another round of pills lets us do just that.

Writing from Britain, Dr. Ben Goldacre echoes Angell’s concerns, charging in “Bad Pharma” that the worst misbehavior in the pharmaceutical industry actually occurs not when prescription drugs are being burnished for market, but far earlier in their development. Lackluster compounds are evaluated in ways guaranteed to make them look good, Goldacre writes, then prettied up even further with distorted claims of efficacy. While “bad behavior in marketing departments is unpleasant,” he concludes, the real scientific outrage and the big public danger lie in uniformly dubious practices of drug development.

Opioid-dependent patients may be trapped in a web of pain and addiction for months, years or a lifetime. One of the most eloquent descriptions of that hard fate comes to us from more than 200 years ago, back in the days when opium and laudanum (a solution of opium in alcohol) were perfectly legal in England, and as widely available as, yes, aspirin is today. It was in the fall of 1804 that Thomas De Quincey, a 19-year-old wannabe intellectual, decided to try a little opium for a bad toothache.

THE TRUTH ABOUT THE DRUG COMPANIES: How They Deceive Us and What to Do About It,

by Dr. Ben Goldacre. Read it and you may never put another pill in your mouth.

by Thomas De Quincey. Bear with the antique prose for a mind-blowingly modern story line.

Read more: NYTimes Well

Educate, prevent access and treat the disease. Addiction is an illness & drug addiction is a vicious cycle. Drugs lead to crime with drug trafficking and crime to obtain the money to buy the drugs. Not to mention homelessness, disease, death, broken families and broken hearts.

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