BILL MURPHY Edward J. Roy Dr. Manchester
Aug 29, 2019 Updated Aug 29, 2019
Prescriptions aren’t the problem
To the Editor: Doctors “over-prescribing” opioids did not cause our “drug crisis.” In New Hampshire, over 93 percent of the 470 drug overdose deaths in 2018 were caused by illicit drugs: fentanyl, heroin, meth, etc., not prescription pain medication.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse says most addicts begin to abuse alcohol and drugs in their teens or early 20s, before they encounter opioids. Contrast that with folks over age 55. Seniors are prescribed opioids for pain three times more often than young people, but seniors have the lowest overdose rates of any age group. The young now overdose six times more often, almost exclusively on illicit drugs.
There is an addiction crisis in America, but it’s related to lack of care, not prescribing. Prescriptions to pain patients rarely result in abuse. Forcing pain patients off the only medications that work won’t help. Restrictive policies are now driving pain management doctors out of practice and patients into agony and sometimes suicide. Most of what we hear from elected officials and the news media about opioids and addiction is flat out wrong.
We need early prevention and later, harm reduction. Those addicted need Medication Assisted Treatment combined with longterm community reintegration. Reintegration means job training, housing, mental health and recovery counseling, and support for people who relapse. We must invest in our labor force, housing and communities. We must also divert non-violent drug offenders out of the justice system. More restrictions on doctors and their patients are not the answer.
Edward J. Roy Drive