Articles by JCS

Medical Trick & Treat

                                                                                                    

Word count: 2168

Medical Tricks & Treats

Halloween is a special night when kids dress like monsters, witches, zombies, super-heroes or the many Disney cartoon characters. This fun night of ‘trick or treats’ gives them the chance to act out in ways never allowed during their normally regimented lives by staying up late, eating junk phood, and raising hell (until they go to college, that is).

The catalyst to this mayhem begins by overdosing on chocolate candy, Hershey bars, M&Ms, Mars bars, candy corn, licorice, Reese peanut butter cups, Tootsie Rolls, Dum Dum pops, Dubble Bubble gum, jelly beans or whatever junk phood kids can stomach.

Of course, the sugar rush is horrible for kids’ health, teeth, and behavior. I contend the kids should wear their scary costumes to school the day after Halloween because that’s when they become real monsters for the teachers to endure after eating this sugar junk!

Adult Halloween Candy

And it’s not just kids who are flying high on Halloween (or any day of the year). MDs now hand out drugs like Halloween candy to anyone with a bad back or stubbed toe. No matter what ails you, medicinal heroine—hydrocodone and oxycodone—are yours for the asking.

The number of opioid users is astounding. The United States with about 5 percent of the world’s population is consuming 80 percent of the world’s entire oxycodone supply and 99 percent of the world’s hydrocodone supply.[1]

This escalation of narcotics has gotten the attention of Thomas Frieden, MD, the director for the CDC, who commented about the “burden of dangerous drugs,” and he wasn’t talking about street drugs.

Considering one in 20 U.S. adults is now addicted to prescription narcotics, he suggested physicians have supplanted “drug pushers on the street corners” as the most important suppliers of illicit narcotics.[2]

OMG: What a condemnation by a leader of the proud medical profession to now be compared with drug lords and pimps on street corners. And it’s perfectly legal, paid by insurance, and practiced by thousands of MDs who have gone bad.

This medical version of Halloween consists of the medical “trick” not to inform patients 1) these drugs are addictive and 2) there are non-drug solutions like chiro care to their chronic pain. The “treat” comes in the form of a multitude of narcotic drugs to get them higher than sugar ever could do!

Halloween happens daily for many people abusing drugs who are examples of real life zombies stoned on opiate painkillers or some other type of prescription psycho-medication or recreational drugs.

Just take a look at the following list from the Huffington Post article[3] of abused drugs by adults over 50:

The 5 Drugs Most Commonly Abused By Post-50s:

#1 Medical Marijuana

While many people have medical prescriptions for marijuana use, 3 million adults aged 50 and older have illegally used the drug within the past year, according to a 2011 report from The National Survey on Drug Use and Health, a branch of the U.S. Government's Department of Health and Human Services. Out of 4.8 million older adults who used illicit drugs, marijuana use was more common than non-medical use of prescription medicines among the 50 to 59 age range (though the opposite was true for those 60 and older). Marijuana is also far more popular among men than women aged 50 and older.

#2 Pain Relievers

Painkillers like Oxycodone, Vicodin and Morphine have a high potential for abuse. According to a Drug Abuse Warning Network report, pain relievers were the type of pharmaceutical most often involved in emergency room visits for post-50s, encompassing 43.5 percent of senior ER visits. The vast majority of painkiller-related ER visits -- 33.9 percent -- involved high-level narcotics, rather than over-the-counter pain relievers.

#3 Sedatives

Most often used to treat anxiety and insomnia, sedatives like Valium and Xanax may become addictive if taken incorrectly, or used too often. The Drug Abuse Warning Network identified sedatives, or depressants, as the pharmaceutical involved in 31.8 percent of emergency room visits by older adults.

#4 Antidepressants

While the names are varied -- Prozac, Zoloft and Lexapro, among others -- the effects are similar. Used primarily to treat depression and mood disorders, antidepressants have a slight potential for abuse and addiction. According to a 2010 report from The Drug Abuse Warning Network, antidepressants contributed to 8.6 percent of emergency room visits by adults 50 and older.

#5 Stimulants

While stimulants such as Ritalin and Adderall are highly addictive, abuse among older people is not as widespread as it with young adults. However, illicit stimulants like cocaine are more common. In 2008, 63 percent of 118,495 emergency room visits made by those 50 and older involved cocaine. The number of older cocaine users likely increased in the past few years since more than 550,000 adults aged 50 and older reported cocaine use, according to a 2011 report.

Hillbilly Heroin Halloween

These legal and illegal psychoactive Halloween treats have become a national crisis as President Obama addressed on October 19, 2015, using his bully pulpit and federal programs to try to combat the epidemic of heroin use and prescription painkiller abuse that is “upending communities across the U.S.”[4]

"This crisis is taking lives; it's destroying families and shattering communities all across the country," Obama said at a panel discussion on opioid drug abuse. "That's the thing about substance abuse; it doesn't discriminate. It touches everybody."

Researchers admit the abuse of opioid painkillers also has become a gateway to heroin. More than half of those who use heroin were addicted to prescription opioid painkillers and more than 90% of heroin users also use at least one other drug. Indeed, their Halloween bag of candy comes with many types of treats.

Heroin use among adults 18 to 25 has more than doubled in the past decade and the number of overdose deaths quadrupled between 2002 and 2013, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 8,200 people—one in every 50 addicts—died in 2013.

 “More Americans now die every year from drug overdoses than they do from motor vehicle crashes,” Mr. Obama said. “The majority of those overdoses involve legal prescription drugs. I don’t have to tell you, this is a terrible toll.”

No other class of drugs, pushed or prescribed, is responsible for as many deaths according to the CDC.[5] In 2013, the agency found that 71 percent of overdoses from prescription drugs—a total of 16,325 deaths—were caused by opioid painkillers and medical doctors were a primary source of drugs for opioid abusers.[6]

This is an increase of more than 400 percent from 1999. And for every death, more than 30 people are admitted to the emergency room because of opioid complications.[7]

All of this addiction madness has been brought to Americans by their local MD and pharmacists supported by Big Pharma—the so-called “guardians of health.”

This tsunami of opioid abuse also varies by regions according to the CDC, For example, in Virginia, physicians write 78 opioid prescriptions for every 100 persons per year. That number almost doubles to 138 prescriptions per 100 people in West Virginia.[8]

West Virginia has the highest rate of overdose deaths in the U.S.—more than twice the national average. Charleston, W.Va., Police Chief Brent Webster said his officers deal with a "community of zombies walking around" in need of treatment.

These stories reminded President Obama of his teenage daughters and his own rebellious teen years. "I did some ... stuff," he noted, referencing his drug use as a teenager. "And there but for the grace of God…It could be Malia or Sasha or any of our kids.”

Too Little, Too Late

To remind you of the enormity of this Hillbilly Heroin epidemic, a 2014 study, “Opioid Painkiller Prescribing”,[9] by the CDC found MDs prescribed 259 million prescriptions for opioids, equivalent to one for every American adult. Each day, 46 people die from prescription painkillers in the U.S.[10]

Experts say too few MDs are properly trained to safely prescribe painkillers and access to medication-assisted treatment for addicts is too difficult. Obama also announced that broadcast networks have agreed to air public service announcements and 40 medical organizations are coming together to promote awareness.

Hopefully our national chiropractic organizations will also contribute to this awareness. Considering we are a nondrug profession and back pain is the #1 disabling condition in the nation, the military, and in the workplace, we should jump on Obama’s bandwagon as the best nondrug solution.

Unfortunately, Americans have been led down the primrose path of a “pill for every ill” that has led to the worst health statistics among the advanced nations of the world according to the Commonwealth Fund Scorecard.[11]

But Americans will never know because the commercial media continues to reinforce the myth that “America has the best healthcare system in the world,” as Big Pharma and the AMA sells them the underlying belief of health salvation through chemistry.

In the Time article, “The Price We Pay For Relief: Why America Can’t Kick Its Painkiller Problem,” writer Massimo Calabresi gave what should be the lead-in to our profession’s pitch:

“This is not a story about dark alleys and drug dealers. It starts in doctors’ offices with everyday people seeking relief from pain and suffering. Around the nation, doctors so frequently prescribe the drugs known as opioids for chronic pain from conditions like arthritis, migraines and lower-back injuries that there are enough pills prescribed every year to keep every American adult medicated around the clock for a month. The longer patients stay on the drugs, which are chemically related to heroin and trigger a similar biological response, including euphoria, the higher the chances users will become addicted.”[12]

Once again the president is handing the chiropractic profession a golden opportunity to come forth to rescue our nation overwhelmed with Halloween medical candy that kills. This opportunity also happened with Obama’s VA Reform bill considering 22 vets commit suicide daily in this country, many of who undoubtedly suffer from chronic back pain, we could immediately help many of these suffering warriors if we had access to the mainstream media to tout our wares.

Inexplicably, just as there is no mention of chiropractic care as a solution to this mess, there also was no mention or blame that this zombie pandemic was the brain child of Big Pharma’s campaign to first brow-beat and then to bribe MDs into prescribing opioids for chronic pain. Previously to this “opioid-phobia” campaign, opiates were use only for post-surgical or intractable cancer patients.

But Big Pharma saw the opportunity to expand its profits with a campaign to intimidate and seduce physicians. After years of persuasion by hired medical ‘thought leaders’ and money under the table to physicians, medical payola paid off big time creating a multi-billion dollar market that previously did not exist.

Prescription opioid painkillers for back pain brought in $17.8 billion and OxyContin alone made $3 billion in 2010.[13] Considering there were 259 million legal prescriptions for opioids written to 127.86 million people for a total cost of $17.8 billion that equates to $68 per prescription.[14]

As we now see, on one street corner we have MDs handing out opioid candy and on the other street corner we have government programs detoxifying these zombies. Either way, Big Pharma and their “pain management” clinicians profit whether it’s dispensing hydrocodone on one corner or methadone on the other. Such a deal, eh?

This scenario sounds painfully similar to the oil rig accidents off the Gulf Coast when crude oil polluted our coastlines and Big Oil was forced to pay billions to repair the mess to the environment and local economy.

So, why hasn’t the federal government fined the AMA and Big Pharma for financial restitution to combat the very Hillbilly Heroin epidemic they created and have profited by dearly?

Medical Tricks

This present opioid epidemic should remind us of the illicit marriage of the AMA with Big Tobacco in 1930 when Morris Fishbein jumped in bed with tobacco to fund his political war chest.

For 56 years the AMA did nothing to warn the public about the cardiopulmonary diseases caused by tobacco. You may be old enough to recall the advertisements showing MDs smoking cigarettes.

After public outcry of this hypocrisy climaxed in 1986, the AMA and medical schools were forced to divest themselves of the millions of dollars gained by this sordid marriage between the so-called ‘guardians of health’ and the biggest killer of mankind the world has ever known—tobacco.

This lurid arrangement was quickly forgotten by the AMA since it simply changed its “sugar daddy” by jumping into bed with Big Pharma!

This may explain why the AMA has said nothing about this drug cartel’s drugging of Americans. If the AMA did not make millions from Big Pharma ads in its journals, something would have already been said if any other product was killing so many people. But one thing is certain—you don’t bite the hand that feeds you.

So, on this upcoming Halloween night when the little tricksters and their parents come to your door wanting their treats, you might also wonder which ones are the real zombies, whether or not they are in costume.



[1] How should U.S. regulate powerful painkillers? PBS NEWSHOUR with Judy Woodruff, January 6, 2015

[2] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Press Release, CDC Vital Signs: Overdose of Presription Opioid Pain Relievers—United States, 1999-2008; 2011: www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2011/t1101_presecription_pain_relievers.html.

[3] Jason Cherkis, Ryan Grim, “Obama Tells Outdated Opioid Treatment Industry It's Time To Change,” The Huffington Post, October 21, 2015

[4] Jason Cherkis, Ryan Grim, “Obama Tells Outdated Opioid Treatment Industry It's Time To Change,” The Huffington Post, October 21, 2015

[5] Louise Radnofsky and Joseph Walker, Clampdown on Popular Painkillers, WSJ, 8/22/2014.

[6] Physicians are a leading source of prescription opioids for the highest-risk users, CDC Newsroom, March 3, 2014. http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2014/p0303-prescription-opioids.html

[7] Special report: The dangers of painkillers, Consumers Report, July 2014

[8] Opioid painkiller prescribing: where you live makes a difference. CDC Vital Signs. July 2014. http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/pdf/2014-07-vitalsigns.pdf Accessed March 4, 2015.

[9] National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention, www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/, July 2014.

[11] http://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/fund-reports/2014/jun/mirror-mirror

[12] Massimo Calabresi, The Price We Pay For Relief: Why America Can’t Kick Its Painkiller Problem, Time, June 4, 2015

[13] Rafia S. Rasu, BPharm, MPharm, MBA, PhD; Kiengkham Vouthy, PharmD; Ashley N. Crowl, PharmD; Anne E. Stegeman, PharmD; Bithia Fikru, PharmD, MPA; Walter Agbor Bawa, MS, PharmD; and Maureen E. Knell, PharmD, BCACP, “Cost of Pain Medication to Treat Adult Patients with Nonmalignant Chronic Pain in the United States,” Vol. 20, No. 9 September 2014 JMCP Journal of Managed Care & Specialty Pharmacy

[14] Louise Radnofsky and Joseph Walker, Clampdown on Popular Painkillers, The Wall Street Journal, 8/22/2014.


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