A reader writes:
I volunteer with the juvenile court in my county. As a result, I work with many parents who are unfortunate enough to have an opiate addiction. I also have a relative with an opiate addiction. My county is not quite as poor as Oxyana, but the demographics are much the same. As a result, we have a lot of opiate addiction here (SW Ohio) and I would say it is the number one drug problem by a large margin. Of the three articles you reference, Warren Jason Street comes the closest to depicting the reality of this problem. But, in my mind, the key quote in his article is not the one you excerpted. It is, rather:
First of all, there is a massive difference between recreational drugs and prescription drugs. In the case of Oceana, West Virginia, the difference couldn’t be more stark–doctors and pharmacies and pharmaceutical companies have profited handsomely at the expense of the citizens who were handed Oxycontin prescriptions to help them deal with “pain.” This is a case of for-profit exploitation, and a tragic one at that.
I attend continuing education conferences every year as part of my volunteer work. Last year I participated in a seminar given by a drug treatment counselor in southern Ohio. After listening to him talk about opiate addiction and what contributes to it, it’s very clear to me that certain communities are most definitely targeted by “pain” clinic operators.
They set up the pill mills to reach a certain audience, predominately poor/working-class white folks. They staff them with doctors who are ethically challenged (at best!), hang out a shingle, and then proceed to carpet the area with prescription opiates. The drug stores turn their heads and fill the prescriptions.
It’s a massive problem in Florida as well. As a matter of fact, a trip down I-75 will expose you to large billboards advertising pain clinics. My point? These folks addicted to pain killers aren’t just weak-willed hedonists who can’t stop; they have been deliberately and evilly targeted – and only Warren Jason Street seems to understand this.
It’s not clear that any of the authors you cite realize that the manufacturers of Oxycontin were fined by the FDA for deceptive marketing practices. They claimed that Oxy wasn’t addictive and marketed it to doctors that way. It’s clear that Frum doesn’t understand diddly squat about this problem. But perhaps he only objects to street drug dealers, not corporate drug dealers?
There’s much much more evil to the opiate addiction problem. I would love to see some investigative journalism that was able to tie together the collusion of the large drug companies, the large drug store chains like CVS, and the pain clinic operators. I realize that I sound like a foaming at the mouth conspiracy theorist, but I think there’s a lot more to this story than even the documentary shows.