The print above is “Two Birds” by the marvelous surreal artist M.C. Escher. (You may remember his famous hand sketching another hand with a pencil, and all those terrific staircases?) In any event, as you notice, it’s the same image repeating itself. Now, take a look at the other image.
Why is she touching a wall with what appear to be large dots?
— Colleen Scanlon (@ColleenScanlon) April 27, 2019
Good question. Possible answers:
- She’s telling the dots not to bully each other, but to “Be Best?”
- These are magic mushrooms, and if she touches the right one, it will turn into her hubby’s dick, dance away, and throw itself down the sinkhole on the White House lawn?
- If you take too many opioids, your arms will fall off and you’ll be left with one arm growing out of your stomach to do everything with?
If you answered, number three — you’re close.
Yes, April 27 is National Drug Take Back Day, and this is the photo op that accompanies it, Melania doing God alone (or maybe Stanley Kubrick?) knows WTF. Because we sure as hell do not.
National Drug Take Back Day is touted by the White House as a pro-active measure in curbing opioid addiction. The concept is that most people who abuse opioids are getting them, with or without permission, from a friend or relative.
Now, some people may get off on the wrong foot by swiping Mom’s left over pain killer from knee surgery, granted. Kids will be kids. And, it’s not a bad idea, ever, to do a regular inventory of drugs in the household and clean house by throwing them away. Hear, hear. I have no problem with that. My point is that it is naive in the extreme to think that the opioid crisis in this country originates from the family medicine chest, or can be stopped there. It is either deliberate obfuscation on this part of this administration to say such a thing, or, alternatively, they don’t have a clue and feel that they have to say something and this is the best that they can come up with. Be that as it may, here are a few facts to look at, to get the origins of the opioid crisis in some kind of a realistic context. Stat News, Boston Globe Media:
The widespread abuse of the potent opioid fentanyl appears to be largely the result of illicit manufacturing of the synthetic drug as opposed to the misuse of legally prescribed versions of the painkiller, according to two US government studies released Thursday.
That represents a dramatic change in the way opioids have traditionally been abused, and means public health officials will likely have to adjust their response to the two-decade-long crisis.
The number of drugs containing fentanyl seized by law enforcement jumped 426 percent from 2013 to 2014, and then almost tripled from 2014 to 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported. The number of synthetic opioid deaths nationally went up 79 percent from 2013 to 2014.
But the number of prescriptions for fentanyl from 2010 through 2014 has remained flat.
In Ohio, which has been particularly hard hit by fentanyl overdoses, prescriptions for fentanyl actually declined by 7 percent from 2013 to 2014.
So, street drugs, not wrongly written prescriptions, are powering the opioid crisis. More specifically, the crisis is caused by drugs illegally produced offshore, shipped to and marketed in the U.S. This is an important distinction, because the response to the opioid crisis so far has been in the curtailing of prescriptions and “educating” doctors about the potential for abuse — the word educating is in quotes because what it translates as, is putting the fear of God into the medical community about writing pain killer prescriptions, with the result that a lot of patients with legitimate pain issues are simply left to fall through the cracks, under-treated or at worse, untreated.
To add insult to injury, there is now a presumption that people presenting in medical offices with pain issues are covert drug addicts, rather than patients with legitimate issues that have not yet been diagnosed. I know this for a fact, because I am one of them. Twice in the last year, I’ve been accused of attempting to scam pain killers. The first time was March, 2018, before an MRI and x-rays revealed a hip thoroughly crippled by arthritis, which needed to be removed, and was, and the second time was three weeks ago — and one week later, I was diagnosed with spinal stenosis. But on both occasions, Hand to God, I was told that my pain wasn’t real — and then the tests came back.
Finally, there are far reaching political overtones to the opioid crisis, which we need to look at. For example, we have been in Afghanistan for a very long time. A lot of the heroin flowing into this country originates there. Remember Iran Contra? Same dynamic. Criminal exploitation of military distribution channels resulting in an explosion of illegal substances both domestically and abroad. Eisenhower warned us about the military industrial complex back in the 50’s and despite the fact that the same pattern keeps repeating like a broken record, we don’t seem to get the message.
And now we have the Trump administration kicking in it’s two cents regarding the elephant in the room, and it would be comical, if it wasn’t so tragic. Yes, we have a dreadful opioid crisis taking place in this country, but it emphatically does not start with prescriptions being wrongfully written and it absolutely will not end by bundling up the remains of the family medicine cabinet once a year and carrying them to a trash can at the local fire department. This is idiocy. It makes for a filler piece on the evening news and that’s it. In real life, it accomplishes zilch.
The true tragedy is that, unfortunately, misconceptions can kill, and people are dying from opioid abuse everyday — but it is not the fault of the aged and infirm, who on top of their legitimate maladies now get to be judged as morally inadequate for needing pain relief for totally normal medical developments. We are dead opposite of where we were in 1900, when one could buy “Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup For Children” over the counter at the local drug store. Only problem was, it contained morphine and killed a lot of the children. As a matter of fact, morphine was the syrup’s primary ingredient, but it wasn’t listed on the label. That was medicine being practiced in a crazy way, too, but in some ways, this is even worse.