State and Federal Governments are Responsible for America’s Increase in Prescription Drug Abuse

Introduction

America’s dramatic increase in prescription drug abuse has become an obvious problem over the last decade. America’s healthcare professionals, doctors, nurses, pharmacists and the like, saw this train wreck coming nearly two decades ago, but were powerless to stop it. As it stands today, the illegal use of prescription controlled substances among Americans is second only to the illegal use of marijuana. How did this happen?

Definitions

To start with, we are physiologically programmed to enjoy a good buzz. Whether it is coffee, tobacco or alcohol, just about every person on the planet enjoys a little pick-me-up or slow-me-down on a daily basis. Rats like it, dogs like it, and people like it. Unlike rats and dogs, we are acutely aware of our own wiring and how to electrify it, and this sometimes has a tragically negative outcome.

Our brains are programmed to maintain a steady-state, like a boat gently floating on the ocean. Uppers make our boat fly for a while, and downers take our boat under water for a while, but always our boat, our brain, is programmed to return to sea level. If we try to make our brain fly forever by repeatedly taking uppers, and we do not allow the brain to return to sea level, our brain will actually raise the level of the sea to where the brain is. The same goes for downers. If you sink your brain for an extended period of time, your brain will make the sea level drop to wherever it is. Your brain becomes tolerant to your drug. It then needs the presence of the drug to feel normal and to remain at sea level. Once tolerance develops, if you remove your favorite drug, whether it be an upper or a downer, your brain will make you feel the opposite of every good feeling that drug ever brought to you. In spades! That is withdrawal. Did you ever get a pounding headache because you accidentally forgot your morning coffee? Now you understand. That is what caffeine, the most benign of the stimulants we use, can do with just modest, regular doses.

Human physiology divides people into two categories when it comes to addictive drugs – the addictive personality and the non-addictive personality. Drug dependence is divided in to two categories – physical dependence and psychological dependence. Drugs that are addictive are divided into two categories – ones with clinically significant uses and ones without clinically significant uses. We can argue all day long as to whether marijuana and heroin have clinical uses, but we will do that some other day.

The Original Problem

All reasonable people want legitimate patients to receive the medications they need to maintain as good a quality of life as possible. It does not matter if a cancer patient becomes physically dependent on narcotics. We have a moral obligation to control their pain. It does not matter that the autistic child becomes dependent on amphetamines if the drugs improve their day-to-day ability to interact with others.

All reasonable people also believe that using addictive drugs for nothing better than shits and giggles can pose unnecessary risks to the individual as well as society as large. Just about the only exceptions to this rule are alcohol and tea. It appears that very modest, non-abusive daily intake of these two has some small health benefits.

The crunch comes when you have a person who is prone to drug abuse, an addictive personality, who actually has a legitimate need for an addictive drug. How do health care practitioners differentiate between this patient’s legitimate need and their addiction? I have dealt with thousands of these patients over the last twenty-five years, and they will say and do absolutely anything to trick their prescribers and pharmacists into giving them “extra” so they can treat their condition and still get high on the side. They exhibit a very consistent set of character traits that are readily recognizable by practitioners. We can spot them coming a mile away and immediately go on the defensive as we wait for whatever convoluted story they have to tell while they beg for their preferred drug. I could write a book… and it would be both funny and pathetically sad.

How the Government Solved the Problem by Creating a Bigger Problem

About twenty years ago a bunch of left-wing, progressive do-gooders in government, folks who could not find their asses with both hands in broad daylight (like former Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders), decided that prescribers and pharmacists were grossly underserving  addicts who also had real medical needs. We were discriminating against them. We were being “mean” to them. We were so tight-fisted in our approach that they were not getting the drugs they needed to control their basic condition, forcing them to shop doctors, pharmacies and emergency rooms, and then turn to illegal street drugs. The government said all of it was our fault! Doctors and pharmacists were turning good, law-abiding citizens into criminals. By the late 1990s the government forced health care providers to go through pain management training to make us more sensitive, and then forced us to loosen the purse strings and hand out addictive drugs to addicts just in case they had a legitimate medical need.

In doing this, the government substantially chilled the war on prescription drug addiction and abuse. Health care providers were suddenly like emasculated United Nations troops, deployed to keep the peace, yet not allowed to fire their weapons. The government was threatening our licenses to practiced medicine and pharmacy and addicts were given a platform to file malpractice lawsuits. The controlling legal authorities, each state’s board of pharmacy and board of medicine, the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Food and Drug Administration, etc. left us twisting in the wind. We could no longer look to law enforcement to protect us if we refused that questionable patient. That made controlling the addict extremely difficult.

It took only a few years for things to get out of hand. Corrupt prescribers and corrupt pharmacies took advantage of the government’s new approach, opening “pill mill” operations prescribing and selling controlled substances. Several times I complained to the DEA and several state boards about such practitioners and was given the silent treatment. So I gave up. I did what I could as a pharmacist to mitigate the problem, and I never knowingly filled a prescription that was not written for legitimate medical purposes. The trouble was, when I was suspicious of a patient or prescriber, I had nowhere to turn. The Oregon Board of Pharmacy turned their blind eye in 1998 when Oregon Attorney General Hardy Myers forced them to  discontinued their monthly Drug Alert newsletter where pharmacists reported illegitimate prescriptions. I was involved in a DEA investigation of a pill-mill dentist who barely received a slap on the wrist after writing hundreds of narcotic prescriptions with no medical purpose. After that, my local DEA investigators sort of vanished. I have never had the Oregon Medical Board punish any doctor, even when they were trying to use my pharmacy as their own personal candy store (I kicked one SOB MD out of my shop so fast he did not know what hit him). There is a lot of dirt swept under the Oregon Medical Board’s rug. I currently have one pending complaint against a retired physician I caught forging prescriptions that the Board has done little to investigate.

The Government’s Solution to the Bigger Problem They Created

By 2010 things had gotten out of hand in all fifty states. Prescription drug addiction had become a multi-billion dollar industry. Drug manufacturers, prescribers, and pharmacies were making tons of money off of the sale of addictive drugs, much of which went immediately on the black market, and then were making tons of money treating the addicts for their addictions. The insurance industry was about to bust an artery, because it was footing the bill for a lot of it. Florida, a state know for its extremely permissive medical oversight, became ground zero for the new war on drugs.

In a schizophrenic about-face, government agencies like the DEA suddenly woke up to the problem of drug addiction they created across the United States. They began investigating prescribers and pharmacies in Florida with extreme prejudice. Giant (think wealthy) pharmacy chains like CVS were targeted, prosecuted and fined tens of millions of dollars for dispensing prescriptions that, while written by legal prescribers, were for no real medical purpose. The investigations spread like wildfire across the United States, even as the DEA was publicly denying the government’s culpability in the matter. Every state has instituted a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program where all pharmacies are required to report every controlled substance prescription into one massive database. Pharmacies and doctors are supposed to use this database to control patient use of controlled substances.

In response to the massive fines and government threats, pharmacies across the country clamped down hard on any and all suspicious behavior. If a prescriber cannot justify a patient’s controlled substance use, we will refuse to fill the prescription. If the prescriber is “pill mill” problem, we simply refuse all prescriptions from the office. There are no more “early refills” for patients with crazy excuses. Yes, a handful of legitimate patients have been inconvenienced and forced to stop overusing their medications, and a handful of doctors, PAs and NPs  have had to reign in their addict patients, but that is just too damn bad. That is the effect $80,000,000 fines by the DEA have on pharmacies. Frankly, prescribers ought to be grateful for all the mistakes we clean up for them, and stop whining to the AMA. The government created a problem, prescribers enabled it, and the pharmacist is taking the blame. Now we are cleaning it up with a gun to our head while the DEA helps themselves to a windfall by rifling through our pockets. It is no different than a Central Park mugging. So man up, Doc, and be a team player.

Conclusion

Had any stupid, government do-gooder had the brains to ask me back in the late 1990s when this all started, I could have told them this is where we would end up. I was not even surprised when the government assigned blame where it did not truly belong. Since the 1960s we have been a nation of pill poppers. The government took the brakes off of a train that is perpetually going downhill and blamed the average American pharmacist when the train derailed and crashed. They are at fault. Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, they are all at fault. Every bureaucrat everywhere pulls this kind of crap every day and are never held accountable. Too bad the average American citizen cannot levy fines for the incompetence in government. Too bad we cannot put these idiots in jail.

So… now that you have slogged through this article… I want you to ask yourself a question. Do you still believe taking the brakes off of marijuana use and abuse will make America a better place? That is what our progressive society is currently doing. By first decriminalizing pot, then legalizing it for “medical purposes” we have radically increased the percentage of youth and adults who use and abuse marijuana for nothing better than shits and giggles. Mary Jane is number one in America, and our kids are driving high. THC, the chemical that makes pot worth smoking, is second only to alcohol when it comes to impaired driving, auto accidents and crash fatalities. Is that what you want?

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Are You Sick of the NBA? Join the Club!

The one place the nobility of man is truly expressed is in our athletic contests. We reward dedication, effort and skill, fair play is paramount and the team and the individual are responsible for each other. It is battle without death. The outcomes are impartial. No one is entitled to victory. When athletes cheat, it undermines the entire purpose of athletics, because the point of athletics is to honorably match your skills against another, and may the best athlete win. When athletic organizations cheat, they rob the spectator of the fundamental right to a fair and rightful outcome.

I soured on the National Basketball Association in the early 1990s primarily due to obvious biases and intentional incompetence among the referees. The vast majority of fouls during a game are simply not called, and many of the fouls called against defenders are from contact intentionally drawn by the offensive player. NBA referees play favorites and definitely have their hated targets. They pick winners and losers, and often try to put the ball in the hands of their favored team with a “bad” call when the game is on the line. Despite it being a gross and obvious problem, the league swiftly punishes players, coaches and owners if they dare speak out against the rampant, intentional incompetence among referees. The Elephant of Cheating is in the NBA’s living room and the league bullies everyone involved to quash the story. So I turned my back on the NBA. I get a better product from my local high school.

My hometown team is the Portland Trailblazers, who, for the first time in many years had some success this past season. I turned away from the Blazers in 1994 out of disgust for the way the Blazers owner, Paul Allen, treated his players and employees. I was not alone. As Allen’s behavior and decisions ushered in the era of the “Portland Jail Blazers,” many fans jumped ship in disgust. While I keep and eye on the Blazers’ progress year to year, I will not get back on the fan wagon until we have a new owner.

However, I did keep a lazy eye on the playoffs this year, and yes, I was thoroughly disgusted again by the referees. The big surprise to me, after so many years of paying little attention to the league, was the questionable behavior of the teams themselves. I cannot conceive of any scenario where the woeful Dallas Mavericks can take the San Antonio Spurs to a game seven of any playoff series unless the Spurs intentionally threw games in order to extend the extremely profitable in-state Texas vs. Texas match-up. The Spurs, a phenomenally powerful and talent laden team and the Western Conference’s number one seed, toyed with the hapless Mavs for six games before delivering the knockout punch in game seven at home. The Spurs then turned their attention to their second round opponent, the Portland Trailblazers. For three games, the San Antonio ran over Portland, kicking the crap out of them. Then for some odd reason, the Spurs coach Greg(ggg) Popovich grossly limited the play of his starters in game four instead of going for the sweep. The Blazers squeaked out a narrow home win while Tim Duncan and crew watched from the bench. Could it be that Pop threw the game so he could sell out his own arena and win the series at home before a hometown crowd? Pretty fishy to my nose.

And then consider the Eastern Division top seed, the Indiana Pacers. The absolutely terrible Atlanta Hawks, the only NBA team making the playoffs with a losing record, also managed a miraculous Dallas-like performance, taking the Pacers to a game seven before Indiana put their foot down at home. I guess 2014 is the year of the seven game series in the NBA.

As a matter of fact, it is. The 2014 NBA playoffs tied the record for playoff series taken to seven games in just the first round, all without a single seeding upset in any of those seven game series. How is that for a bizarre coincidence. The NBA playoffs can have as few as 60 total games and as many as 105 total games. Every game is worth millions of dollars in ticket revenue, food and merchandise sales, and advertising revenue. The closer the league comes to 105 playoff games, the more money it makes. It has a vested interest in extended series. If the NBA can figure a way to extend every series just a single game it creates an annual financial shift of tens of millions of dollars without actually cheating the eventual series winner. So the average NBA fan has to ask, why exactly did it look like Greg(ggg) Popovich was not playing to win in game four at Portland?

Oregon’s Democratic Congressmen Attempt to Deny all of America the Benefit of the Rule of Law

Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer’s number one priority, according to his website, is fixing a broken government. The ordinary citizen believes a government that ignores the Constitution and the Rule of Law in general, is a broken government. We believe that a government beholden to special interests, PACs and large corporations is a broken government. We believe a government that is no longer subject to a controlling legal authority, one where the balance of power is dead, is a broken government. Naturally, when Blumenauer states his number one priority is to fix a broken government, his constituency believes these are the problems he wants to fix… a broken government from our point of view. Unfortunately, all the things ordinary folk believe are broken in government, Earl Blumenauer believes are solutions. His view is a backwards, negative image where black is white. Blumenauer believes that the Rule of Law is what has broken the government, not the other way around. To Blumenauer, getting the Constitution and The Rule of Law out of the way of the government’s agenda is paramount. To fix all of societies ills, the government’s power must be unrestrained.

On May 7, 2014, Oregon’s Democratic congressmen, Earl Blumenauer, Susan Bonamici, Peter DeFazio, and Kurt Schrader, all voted against HR574, the bill that found Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress for refusing to testify about her role in the IRS’s illegal, unconstitutional targeting of America’s political conservatives. On the same day these same four Oregon congressmen voted against HR565, the bill that calls Attorney General, Eric Holder, to appoint a special counsel to investigate the IRS on this issue. These two votes are an overt stand against Constitutional Free Speech and Freedom of Association, and place all four Oregon Democratic congressmen in violation of their oaths of office. I will give each of them the benefit of the doubt, and say they voted their conscience instead of playing partisan politics against their better judgment. Unfortunately for them, this means they all believe the end justifies the means. They believe it is okay for any government agency to violate the rights of any citizen as long as it serves their agenda. They just cut a swath through the law to protect their designs for society. All four believe they know better than, and are above the Rule of Law. All four should resign. Oregonians need to vote all four out of office. Luckily for these particular congressmen they are from Oregon, a state dominated by citizens and political leaders who favor expediency and cronyism over the Rule of Law. If Oregonians do not vote them out of office, and they will not, we will have only ourselves to blame when Earl Blumenauer finally fixes America’s “broken government” and The Law no longer shields the citizens from the whims of their leaders.

Brazil: Police Warn World Cup Soccer Fans – Do Not Make The Trip

Ah, Brazil! That Utopian society where law-abiding citizens do not need the right to bear arms. It is so peaceful and serene. It is the 5th largest country on the planet, you know. It has abundant natural resources. It is a democratic republic. It is the 7th largest economy in the world. It sounds so perfect. And the best thing about Brazil is, while the police have guns and the military has guns and the criminals have guns and the drug lords have guns, the law-abiding citizens do not have guns. Brazil’s rate of violent death is nearly 29 per 100,000 in population. That is 4.5 times higher than the rate of violent death in America, where, to our shame, law-abiding citizens can shoot back. It really sucks to live in America, I guess, where you can actually go see a major sporting event without fear of being murdered by street thugs over a matter of $80. I wished I lived in Brazil, so the police could warn me not to scream for help while being robbed. Not.

Talk Radio’s Lars Larson is a Liberal… and Proud of it

The Pacific Northwest is home to a fellow by name of Lars Larson, and he happens to be radio’s best talk journalist. I guarantee, if you listen to Larson for an hour, you will get more hard-hitting news than in a week of Limbaugh, and without all that irritating table thumping and paper rustling. Larson is a news junkie. A wonk. He is both smart and astute, and is usually right. Even when he is wrong, he wins the argument nineteen out of twenty times because he is a king of debate. He has a lot of conservative characteristics, especially when it comes to the government and social issues. I would argue he is a tiny bit of a plutocrat, but I would lose. Not because I am necessarily wrong, but I am simply not nimble enough to take on the man who goes up against and whips some of the best political debaters in America like he was shooting fish in a barrel.

21st Century progressive-liberals hate Larson. Oregon’s governors have not talked to him in decades. If he gets a burr under his saddle, you can bet he will ride it to exhaustion. He loves guns, loves hunting, and would be a real man’s man if not for his penchant for cosmetic procedures. He lives to defend the Constitution, hates waste, believes change should be logical and well thought out, and has no sympathy for the incorrigible and lazy. If you are going to go up against him, you better bring your facts and be succinct, or he will take you behind the woodshed for a good, old-fashioned whipping. Respectfully done, if you are respectful. Heaven help you if you are idiot, though.

So what makes a gun-toting, cigar smoking man with Tillamook values a proud liberal? My Webster’s Dictionary, that’s what. Despite what Larson’s many detractors claim, he is a man of many noble attributes.

  • Lars Larson is generous to a fault. He gives his time and pulpit freely to many very human causes such as the Wounded Warriors Project that provides invaluable help to returning veterans and their families. A charitable, unselfish heart is, by definition, liberal.
  • Lars Larson is a fierce proponent for quality in public education. He fights corruption in the NEA and U.S. Department of Education that have turned our public schools into academic cesspools and fights for charter schools and tuition vouchers. Someone who embraces education, literature and the sciences is, by definition, liberal.
  • Lars Larson is open to hearing all points of view. Be prepared for a debate if he disagrees with you, but I have heard plenty of people expound their position and win Lars over. He is anything but narrow-minded or bigoted. If you are right, and you have the facts and eloquence to make your point, he loses gracefully. Just not very often. An open mind, one who can embrace the interests of others is, by definition, liberal.
  • Lars Larson believes that every person possesses the inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. He believes every person has a right to think their own thoughts and lead their own life with a minimum of interference from their government or their neighbor. That, by definition, is liberal.

Perhaps this, and not Larson’s conservative traits, is why the 21st Century progressive-liberals really hate him. While he carries his conservatism like a couple of ivory-handled, six-shooters on his belt, it is his quiet liberalism that shames them most, for in their mean-spirited quest to defeat conservative thought, many have abandoned their own roots, roots so ingrained in Larson’s soul he could not abandon them if he tried.

The Death of Rule of Law – Part VI of VI: The Death of Religious Freedom and the Death of Trial by Jury

6th Amendment of the ConstitutionIn all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.

7th Amendment of the ConstitutionIn suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Freedom From Religion

 The very core of Constitutional theory is that fundamental human rights are inalienable, granted us by God Almighty, regardless of the actions of man, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” That, in my estimation, is why the very first line of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America reads Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;” This is as straightforward as it gets, and, like it or not, is the foundation for all arguments in favor of same-sex marriage. The government cannot establish a national religion, and cannot punish citizens for practicing their religion, and people have the right to live according to their beliefs… including same-sex marriage.

In my home state of Oregon, our Constitution protects religious freedom to an even greater degree than its Federal counterpart. The Oregon Constitution reads, All men shall be secure in the Natural right, to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences. No law shall in any case whatever control the free exercise, and enjoyment of religious opinions, or interfere with the rights of conscience. No religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office of trust or profit.” Finally, the Oregon Constitution requires a majority vote to change, and The U.S. Constitution requires ratification in thirty-eight states to change. To date, neither the citizens of Oregon nor of the United States have used the clearly laid democratic process to alter the constitutional liberties and protections afforded to America’s religious. Yet, in Oregon, while we are on the verge of legalizing same-sex marriage, religious freedom is effectively dead, as though both cannot exist in one society. How could this happen?

Before we go any further, the reader has to understand a bit about Oregon. Oregon is about as far away from the Bible Belt as you can get without going to Europe. It is one of the most left-leaning, progressive, unchurched states in the Union. The Portland Metropolitan area is a safe-haven for all things non-conservative, and The Rose City’s mantra is “Keep Portland Weird!” We have very few conservative or religious leaders, and their agendas rarely get fair hearing. Portland city government is extremely lax when it comes to law enforcement, frequently giving those favored leftwing groups like anarchists, naked cyclists, the homeless, and illegal aliens a pass when they break laws. Portland is a safe haven for the free-spirited and the fringe, and you are just as likely to see a man in skirt and pantyhose by the food-carts eating lunch as you are a woman. There is no systematic discrimination of any group in Oregon. Quite the opposite. Oregon, dominated by Multnomah County, is a literal orgy of the eclectic, and that makes it a pretty fun night on the town even for conservative Christians like me.

Oregon is also a hotbed of leftwing, progressive political activity. We are home to one of the nation’s most successful Occupy movements, and our local and state politicians are always looking for ways to subvert the Rule of Law without an actual public vote. This is where two lesbians and a Christian bakery step into the picture.

Two rather militant Oregon lesbians singled out and entered a Christian bakery, not to purchase a loaf of bread or innocuous birthday cake, but rather to demand the Christians bake them a wedding cake with a same-sex topper. The Christians, citing their religion’s 2,000 year stand against homosexuality, declined to help the two lesbians celebrate their wedding, wholly believing they lived in a state and nation where religious freedom was constitutionally protected. The lesbians cited a 2007 Oregon antidiscrimination law and filed a complaint with the State, framing the issue as a “Whites Only Drinking Fountain” issue. Oregon’s Attorney General, Ellen F. Rosenblum, a woman who openly acknowledges she will not defend laws she does not like, spearheaded the case against the Christian bakery, while Oregon Labor Commissioner, Brad Avakian, illegally brought the hammer of government down on them, literally destroying their business. Were the Christians allowed a trial by jury as guaranteed by the Constitution? Nope. The Christians were summarily punished for their beliefs by two political bedfellows who share an extraordinary history of religious persecution and genocide.

“What’s that?” you say!

Well, Attorney General Rosenblum is a Jewess, and Labor Commission Avakian is Armenian. Between the two of them they share an intertwined ancestral history where around twelve million of their forefathers and religious brothers and sisters were slaughtered during the late 19th Century and the first half of the 20th Century in Europe and Persia simply based on their religious beliefs. That is right, folks, Brad Avakian, kin to 1.5 million Armenian Christians slaughtered during the Armenian Genocide, overturned constitutional law protecting religious freedom by simply ignoring it. No trial. No judge. No jury of peers. No vote of the people. Not even a conviction in the court of public opinion. Just Activist Brad and Activist Ellen. You can imagine the greeting they will get from their forefathers when they die. And here is why.

The Portland Metro area is home to a plethora of bakeries of all persuasions (think “water fountains”). I drive by no less than five bakeries in my short seven-mile daily commute. As a matter of fact, Portland has so many bakeries, 99% of which would be perfectly happy to celebrate a same-sex wedding (again, think “water fountains”), that the odds of a militant lesbian couple accidentally stumbling across a rare Christian bakery are similar to finding a needle in a haystack when you are not even looking. It is theoretically possible, but unlikely. This was no accident… and Brad Avakian and Ellen Rosenblum know it. I am guessing that Activist Ellen’s next act will be to sic Activist Brad on the Jewish deli that refuses to cater ham sandwiches for a Neo-Nazi rally, or perhaps the Muslim florist who refuses to make a giant floral crucifix for a Catholic funeral, or the Negro baker who refuses to bake a Confederate flag cake for a Klansman’s birthday or the Mormon restaurant that refuses to serve coffee to cops on duty. This is yet another test case to find out if activist government workers can infringe upon and overturn the Constitution they are sworn to uphold simply by pretending it is not there. So far, the answer is an emphatic yes.