Opiate Addiction

I’ve tended to accept the narrative about the overselling of opiates by big pharma, but Johann Hari makes an interesting counterargument. I’m drawn to this paragraph:

Doctors in many parts of the world — including Canada and some European countries — prescribe more powerful opiates than their peers in the United States. In England, if, say, you get hit by a car, you may be given diamorphine (the medical name for heroin) to manage your pain. Some people take it for long periods. If what we’ve been told is right, they should become addicted in huge numbers.

But this doesn’t occur.

What’s really causing the prescription drug crisis?” by Johann Hari, L.A. Times

Another key paragraph:

This phenomenon isn’t new. After a collapse in people’s sense of status, meaning or community, an addiction epidemic often follows. In England in the 18th century, for example, huge numbers were driven out of the countryside into urban slums. Then came a mass outbreak of alcoholism — it was called the Gin Craze — and many drank themselves to death. At the time, commentators blamed the evil booze peddlers. If only they hadn’t sold the gin in the first place, they said, none of this would have happened; gin hijacks people and destroys them.


Ciro says:  I know that a problem my mother has consistently is an under-prescription of pain killers, I’m guessing because doctors are afraid of the scandal, don’t want to get in trouble. This last surgery she actually took with her a copy of the article I sent her about the genetic predisposition to high drug tolerance among redheads so they would believe her when she said it still hurt.

Romie: That reminds me, did you see this: “The people who can’t go numb at the dentist’s” by Chris Baraniuk at the BBC

Rosi: There are also manyyyy studies that suggest doctors have a hard time understanding/believing the level of pain women experience.


Angela J says: This reminds me of Rat Park a bit, although I don’t believe that study could be reproduced and is largely discredited because of that.

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