Florida has been praised for its efforts for curbing the use of painkillers but criticized for causing a heroin crisis in the process. According to the Forbs magazine, the effort by Florida State to curtail the supply of painkillers to people who use them have led people to turn into heroin. The measure made the painkillers hard to get and expensive. However, heroin was cheaper compared to the painkillers making people turn to heroin. The problem was prevalent In Florida, and it even gained the name of the oxy express. Although the state of Florida is working to improve the situation, the death toll since 2010 has tripled. The efforts according to critics have had limited effect on the ground. The problem can be traced back in 1960s when medical authorities were encouraging doctors to pay more attention to pain reduction. The Oxycontin pill rapidly spread in the market after businesspeople saw an opportunity to sell it on a large scale. The incentive to reduce pain saw a rapid growth of clinics all over Miami that was dispensing painkillers. An opioid was the most common painkiller being sold, and anyone could access the drug. The problem was so much that at one time, 90% of all painkillers being sold were in Florida. The painkiller is very addictive, and people who use them say it is hard to stop using them. According to the users, the pain of not getting the pill is much more intense than what they were initially treating. Some patients realized that the doctors were not treating them but just taking their money. The medical practitioners wanted to write the prescription instead of treating the pain. According to one of the patients, his doctor never asked him how his pain was but rather kept giving him painkillers.
According to the patient, he lost his job and house because of the addiction ("Driven by Prescription Drug Abuse, Heroin Use Increases Among Suburban and Rural Whites | Clinical Pharmacy and Pharmacology | JAMA | The JAMA Network," n.d.) In 2010, the FBI cracked down on pill mills, and most of the owners of the companies were imprisoned. The parliament also passed a bill that saw the control of painkillers to patients. The move to control the movement of painkillers was able to reduce the deaths associated with opioid by 69% ("Feds Pill Crackdown Drives Pain Patients to Heroin - The Daily Beast," n.d.) However, some people were already addicted, and they started looking for alternatives. Since there was a control on Opioids, the prices rose making it expensive ("How cracking down on America's painkiller capital led to a heroin crisis | Science | The Guardian," n.d.) However, heroin was cheaper and easily available. Death related to the use of heroin double in Florida in 2014 due to the new law. There was also an increase in the number of babies that were born with heroin addiction as well as an increase in HIV infection due to sharing of needles. In the 1960s the typical heroin users were young people from low-income families. However, the trend has changed, and people using heroin are from well off families. The addiction was usually started as a dependency from painkillers prescribed by their doctors ("Whats causing the prescription drug crisis? - LA Times," n.d.)
I agree with the articles that claim the crackdown on painkillers caused an increase in heroin addiction. When the FBI cracked down on pill mills, they left a vacuum that was filled by drug dealers. People who use painkillers were already addicted to the drugs and pulling down the supply was not the solution. The action by the government caused the painkillers to be scarce and therefore expensive. Since people were already addicted, they had to look for ways to quench their addiction. However, the Opioids that they were using had become costly and scarce. The available options for the patients were to look for a cheaper alternative. The alternative was heroin which had flooded from Mexica. In my opinion, the government should have introduced measures that would enable the patients to stop depending on pain killers gradually. The people who turned to heroin were not drug abusers but individuals who had been given prescriptions by their doctors. Research done by JAMA showed that individuals who were affected by substance abuse were not the typical teenagers from poor backgrounds but individuals from middle-income families. It would be prudent on the governments side to help the patients get over their addictions rather than pushing them towards hard drugs. Though the fight against the painkillers was well intentioned, the method used was not well thought out. Alternative medications and availability of rehab centers should have been introduced. The Doctors should also have been monitored and the regulated on how they prescribe painkillers. Other states should learn from Florida and avoid making the same mistakes.
Driven by Prescription Drug Abuse, Heroin Use Increases Among Suburban and Rural Whites | Clinical Pharmacy and Pharmacology | JAMA | The JAMA Network. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/1886185
Feds Pill Crackdown Drives Pain Patients to Heroin - The Daily Beast. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/04/15/feds-pill-crackdown-drives-pain-patients-to-heroin.html
How cracking down on America's painkiller capital led to a heroin crisis | Science | The Guardian. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/may/25/opioid-epidemic-prescription-painkillers-heroin-addiction
What's really causing the prescription drug crisis? - LA Times. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-hari-prescription-drug-crisis-cause-20170112-story.html
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