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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Just what we need, another addicting drug...

Modern man has lasted thousands of years without pharmaceuticals.  Sure, life has gotten easier in many positive ways.  The life expectancy has gotten much longer and we are healthier (despite all the crazy talk from food religionists who count on our inability to notice that all the 'bad' food we are not supposed to eat has been part of the diet of all the 80-year-olds around us... go figure).
What has not been good is our increasing expectations of a pain-free life.  Pain is just part of the deal here in this life, and yet we are demanding from our doctors ever-increasing dosages of pain killers.  The pharmaceutical industry (which, in America, is 'hyper-partisan' in that it controls both parties with campaign contributions, seen in our recent 'healthcare reform') is more that willing to oblige our appetites, and bring us more effective drugs-
The problem here is that these more effective drugs come with a price: they make some of us feel 'spectacular,' and they invariably make us physically dependent.
I struggled with this a few years ago.  After having some rather complicated surgery (you know it is 'complex' when the doctor comes into the recovery room to apologize for the pain I was going to experience because it did not go as planned), I was put on a rather heavy dose of Vicodin.  I hated it, but it alleviated the pain so long as I kept gulping pills.  After a week of heavy use, I began to taper off.  In the second week, I decided to stop.
It was horrid.  I felt, and yet more than ill.  At that point, I realized that physical dependency had set in.  I had two more refills, and took the second one because I needed another week to ramp down.  I spent the following week cutting my daily dose down until, by the third week I was off them entirely.  The rest of the bottle went into the toilet.
It scared me in a profound way, because I know people who like Vicodin.  I can only imagine how hard it would be to fight withdrawal knowing that each maintenance dose was bringing with it a wave of pleasure.
Now, they are offering a more concentrated version of this highly addictive substance.  This is not good.
I have written here before about the need to offer patients a taper-off prescription, like a birth-control pack that gradually tapers off someone who becomes physically dependent.  Sadly, I don't think the industry sees as much of benefit as the present system.  I also can't believe that the government has not considered this option and not changed the laws.  They are supposed to be smarter than me, which is why they create millions of regulations and laws.
My sense is that they are OK with some degree of abuse, because they don't want to deal with a sober public.  They are also not willing to stand up to our own weakness and appetites and say 'enough is enough.'  We ask to be drugged, and they are more than happy to oblige.

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