The Single Silver Lining of Covid-19, the Virus China Unleashed Against Earth

Right now, as most of you, I am sitting in my house on orders by Government. Luckily, I am considered ‘Essential’ so am still employed, but I wear a germ filter mask at work. I maintain social distancing and have not gone to church in two months, all in hopes that Covid-19 will first wax, then wane as the virus’s ability to use human beings as a vector of infection diminishes.

Understand, in the world of infectious disease, we the people, homo sapiens, are our own primary vector of transmission. Ticks and mosquitos are only a tiny slice of the disease pie. We infect ourselves. Influenza, the common cold, HIV, HPV, herpes, MRSA, hepatitis and a whole host of other viral and bacterial infections are gifts from us to us. We cough, we shit, we have sex, and that transmits disease.

Not only will taking a month or two of social distancing and remaining cooped up in our homes blunt Covid-19, flattening the curve, it will also hughly restrain many other vector-man infectious diseases… at least for a short time. I am not going to get a cold in the next few months simply because everyone with a cold has been in isolation long enough to end their infectious period. If it works for Covid, it will work for a lot of other human-born pathogens. To borrow from former presidential candidate and avowed communist, Bernie Sanders, that’s a good thing.

It is Big and it is Coming Your Way, So Stay Tuned

Over the last six-plus years I have researched and written a number of important articles debunking Fake News fallacies that America’s left-wing, progressive media, social activists and political leaders continue to perpetuate.

None of these urban legends are true. They simply get repeated over and over by a lot by leaders and journalists in service of their own political and social agendas. Coming soon, I will show you what is happening in communities that have embraced these false teachings, and compare them to communities that have rejected modern, liberal progressivism. Check back soon.

John

BBC News – Are murderers born or made?

BBC News – Are murderers born or made?

Well, well. It looks like firearms aren’t the culprit after all. They do not cause depression. They do not suggest suicide. They do not make murderers. Considering their ubiquitous presence in our society, and how our crime, violence, and suicide rates are far better than the global averages, exercising our 2nd Amendment Rights seems to statistically have no negative impact at all. It makes me wonder about “Marijuana” Earl Blumenauer’s real agenda. Why, exactly, is he promoting recreational drug use and the abridgment of our Constitutional rights instead of focusing on strengthening the moral core of America’s families and preventing the generational cycle of child abuse?

My Friend, Tom Kozlowski

My friend Tom Koslowski died Monday, January 12th 2015 from complications secondary to cancer. He died in his tiny, one bedroom apartment, a man alone, forgotten by most of the world. There was no hospice or visiting nurse at his side. His elderly mother found his body on Thursday. She called me on Friday. You will not see his obituary in the newspaper, nor will there be a memorial service, because Tom was a member of America’s invisible population of mentally ill citizens. He did not have two nickels to rub together, few friends, and no family besides his mother. He was sixty-one years old.

Tom was a paranoid schizophrenic who bore a marked resemblance to Tolkien’s character, Gollum. People instinctively recoiled from him, as though he were a ghoul. I will tell you right now, he was one of the kindest, most honest souls I have ever met, and as much as the ill-mannered stares and rude whispers from “normal” people hurt him, he never held a grudge or wished anyone ill.

In a life where he very heavily relied on government agencies, caseworkers, and healthcare providers, Tom came to hate being a burden to other people. He did not drive, was terrified of public transportation, and did not have the stamina to walk any sort of distance. Going to the store or doctor or pharmacy always required the reluctant help of someone else. Sometimes it was a government-funded taxi or the TriMet Lift, and sometimes it was a friend or neighbor. Regardless, Tom always had to work the phones and beg for the transportation that you and I take for granted. It embarrassed him and he hated it. Sometimes, if he were in a bind, I would stop by his apartment and drop off his prescriptions on my way home. I would always stay for an hour or so to talk and, most importantly, to listen.

When Tom was as a little boy he wanted to grow up to be a doctor. He wanted to help people. His symptoms emerged when he was nine years old and, instead of being the doctor, he became the patient. He suffered a lifetime of cruel tricks at the hands of the voices in his head, not to mention those wounds inflicted by the world around him. While Tom was often reluctant to talk about his adventures in life – most of our conversations revolved around his medical needs – once in a while, if he was in the mood, he would tell me a tale or two from his past. Sometimes the stories were painful, but sometimes they were downright funny. The pragmatic, self-effacing humor he spun into his recollections made Tom a good storyteller. His tales were good enough that I offered to write his biography. It would have been a best seller, and I am confident it would have been an honest accounting of his life. Tom declined the offer for fear of the pain of dredging up a continuous history, much to my regret but with my understanding. While he considered himself a worthless human being, his story would have been more interesting than 99% of the biographies ever written. He was a good man and he survived a life in a world we little understand and greatly fear. He was anything but worthless.

In deference to Tom’s wishes, I am not going to commit those stories he gave me to writing. There is but one story of his that I feel a need to tell and that is his last one. Last autumn, Tom had to make a decision to fight his cancer or let nature take its course. He was physically quite frail, and odds of him surviving the procedures and treatments were not in his favor. His oncologist and GP were pushing him towards treatment, so he came to me for advice. Medically, oncology is far out of the scope of my practice, so I left the clinical question alone. Instead, I asked Tom, “If you go through the treatments and survive, then what?” Tom knew what I was asking. We all die. Life is the leading cause of death. Did he want to be comfortable for six months? Or did he want to be miserable for eighteen months? At his age with his health, no matter what, death was relatively imminent and inescapable.

Tom took this final decision very seriously. He made it with a clearer mind and a braver heart than most of my sane patients. In the eight years I had known him, he had spent every minute of every day managing his health. Despite his mental illness and other health problems, Tom had learned to enjoy life and did not want to die in the least bit. If he had any fight left in his body, he would have fought. He simply didn’t, and he knew it. He opted to let the disease take its course.

As much as he could be, Tom was a good son and very much loved his mother. This is why he protected her as long as he could from news of his cancer, not wanting her to worry over him. Besides him, she had little in the world, and he knew there was time enough for her to have sleepless nights. The gift of ignorance was the only gift he had the ability to give, and he did it out of love. She found out a matter of weeks before he passed. She was likely a bit angry with Tom for keeping the secret as long as he did. I hope she understands it was an act of love on his part. He carried her part of his burden as long as he could.

Tom Kozlowski was more than my patient. Over the years we had become friends. Friendship is an odd thing, and is often found in the most unsuspecting places. I am a richer man for having known him, and that is no small thing. I hope that now, free of disease and pain, Tom’s soul can look down from Heaven and see how he touched my life. The little boy who wanted to grow up to be a doctor is finally free. As long as I live, I will not forget him.

Oregonians Put Earl Blumenauer and Marijuana Users Behind the Eight-ball

Pot-heads nationwide are celebrating Oregon’s legalization of a fourth over-the-counter addictive, recreational drug. THC now joins caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol in the arena of legal vices Oregonians can enjoy with relatively nominal legal restrictions. Heartily supported by Representative Earl Blumenauer, the 420 crowd capped a multi-million dollar political campaign with a solid victory for their Measure 91, legalizing recreational marijuana in Oregon. Along the way, users made a lot of grandiose promises about the utterly harmless nature of smoking marijuana such as:

  • Legalization will decrease access and use by minors.
  • Students who regularly use marijuana will have the same academic successes as clean students.
  • Adults who regularly use marijuana will have the same professional and employment success as clean adults.
  • Marijuana users will not seek social services at rates greater than general society.
  • Marijuana is not a gateway drug, therefore the rates of illegal drug abuse will not rise as marijuana use increases.
  • Using marijuana products regularly will not impair thinking, decision-making or IQ.
  • Chronic users are safe drivers.
  • Smoking marijuana regularly does not impair lung function or lead to COPD or emphysema.
  • When smoked at equivalent pack-year rates to cigarettes, marijuana does not cause cancer.
  • Unlike nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol, marijuana is not addictive and has absolutely no withdrawal pattern.

Over the next several years, as data is collected from Oregon, Colorado, and Washington State, along with any other states that legalize pot, the truth of these claims will emerge. It will be a ‘put up or shut up’ moment for stoners. This entire block of our society is now under tremendous pressure to fulfill their very own prophesies. Can they ensure their own predictions will come true? Will they have the guts to own it if they are wrong?

I believe, as evidences mounts, all their claims will prove false. When that time comes, I also believe marijuana advocates will scurry away from their responsibilities like cockroaches when you turn on the light. I have seen too many of my friends, patients, and colleagues get destroyed by drug addiction and abuse over the years. I am not talking methamphetamine, heroin, PCP or fringe designer drugs. I am talking caffeine, tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, and prescription drugs. The ‘safe’ stuff. I know a truck driver, the husband of a former coworker, who earned a heart attack by drinking six or more energy drinks every day. A friend of mine from high school fell to his death when he was stoned. Another high school classmate began abusing steroids at the age of fourteen and continued until his death from a major cardiovascular accident at age 38. I know pharmacists, doctors and nurses, all trained to the dangers of controlled substances, that have destroyed their careers for the sake of hydrocodone or zolpidem or whatever controlled drug they fancied. One of my former pharmacy colleagues was an alcoholic who committed suicide when he was caught stealing narcotics from the pharmacy. I have patients who are chain cigarette smokers who are literally taking decades off their life. A former patient of mine murdered a man in downtown Portland over a bottle of alprazolam.  I have watched gifted friends go by the wayside for the sake of marijuana… peers with IQs well above mine who deliver pizzas for a living or hang drywall. My daughter just came home from university to attend the memorial service for one of her high school classmates. He overdosed on Molly at a party at the age of 20.

People who use drugs recreationally like to believe they are in control of the drug, not the other way round. Sometimes that is true, sometimes that is not. What most people who dabble with recreational drugs lack is a healthy respect for the power of those drugs. It does not matter if the drugs are clean and legal, or the nasty, adulterated products manufactured by some South American drug cartel. Alcohol is no exception. Marijuana is no exception. To have some childish “Fight the Power” pot-head brag that marijuana is just as safe as alcohol is not exactly reassuring. I know too many alcoholics who have destroyed their lives and families to find comfort in this comparison. The same goes for pot-heads. Your children are ashamed of your behavior.

This idea that psychoactive substances like marijuana are as safe as candy is nothing more than wishful thinking. It is harder than you think to have your cake and eat it too when it comes to recreational abuse of drugs. Whether you are rich or poor, it is harder to succeed and easier to fail in virtually all aspects of life if you get drunk or high on a regular basis. Ugly as it is, that is the truth. And when things go sideways for you, you get hooked, you O.D., you wreck your car and maybe kill someone, your kid eats your stash and ends up in the hospital, you lose your job or fail out of school, when your life slips and falls off the edge, it is the rest of us who have to pick up the broken mess you leave behind. I find the idea of having such things on my conscience quite haunting. Why so many people embrace such easily avoided risks simply to get high for a few hours also haunts me. It is as though they believe life is filled with infinite second chances, do-overs and restarts, when the truth is there are simply not that many tomorrows before it is over and we have to make account of our lives.

So now Oregon has marijuana. Mary Jane’s last dance. One more drug to ease the pain, so smoke up, Johnny!  The question is – can we handle it? Only time will tell.

Vote No On Oregon Measure 91: The Control, Regulation, and Taxation of Marijuana and Industrial Hemp Act

*If this issue matters to you at all – please pass this on. Two weeks is hardly enough time to get the word out how dangerous Measure 91 really is*

It takes about 6 ounces of hard liquor or about 48 ounces of beer for the average person to blow 0.08 and equal the impairment of a single marijuana joint. That means a fifth of hard liquor is about equal to 1.5 gallons of beer is about equal to four joints. Oregon Measure 91 will  allow ANYONE age 21 and over to privately grow and possess the equivalent of 1000 joints (16 ounces) of marijuana products at any one time. That is a rough equivalent to 375 gallons of beer or 250 fifths of hard liquor. In Oregon, it is illegal to produce a drop of hard liquor without a license. Period. The maximum amount of unlicensed, home-brewed beer you can possess is 100 gallons, the intoxication equivalent of about 250 joints, except you can’t fit the beer in your coat pocket and hang out near the school yard. This single disparity makes clear the mindset and real intent of the authors and supporters of Measure 91. They want as many people as possible to smoke as much pot as possible, the rest of society be damned.

The Consequences of Passing Measure 91

  • Unlicensed Possession No Longer a Crime: Not only will any adult be able to lawfully grow and possess enough marijuana to bake the entire Gladstone High School student body, ORS 475.864 clearly states a minor who possess up to 60 joints (1 ounce) of marijuana will only be subject to a non-criminal fine of $650. Compare that to ORS 471.430, Oregon’s “minor in possession of alcohol” statute where a minor drinking a lone can of Bud Light can be criminally cited and fined, or be required to do community service. Remember, 60 joints is equal to about 15 fifths of vodka.
  • Impaired Drivers Not Subject to Criminal Prosecution: Section 7:3 and 7:4 do not require the OLCC to create impairment standards until 2017. That means we will have two years without meaningful intoxicated driver rules. Marijuana users are already 9X more likely to die behind the wheel than alcohol users, so buckle-up for a rough two years as gorked pot-heads mow us down with impunity. Even if they are cited, Section 73:2 states it will only be a class B traffic violation… like a parking ticket. Try pulling that off if you blow 0.08!
  • Failure to Keep, or Destruction of, Production Records is Only a Class B Misdemeanor: Pharmacies have to keep their records for 10 years. According the Section 40 and Section 69, Marijuana producers are only required to keep their records for two years. If they do not keep those records, or alter or destroy those records, they are only subject to a Class B misdemeanor. Section 23 requires the OLCC to give any licensee 72 hours notice before examining their books, allowing them plenty of time to destroy their records if need be.
  • No Limits On, or Records of Purchasers or Purchases: Everywhere in the United States, to avoid mass purchasing and diversion to the illegal methamphetamine market, the selling pharmacy records the name of every person who purchases pseudoephedrine. Under Section 16 of Measure 91, there is no requirement to keep such records about marijuana purchasers or purchases. As a matter of fact, even though THC is a highly abused, impairing drug, Section 72 of the bill demands that marijuana no longer be considered a controlled substance.
  • OLCC is Mandated to Generate New Users: Only 5% of tax revenues actually go to drug abuse prevention programs, while Section 33:5:a mandates that the OLCC will maximize tax revenue generation. There is only one way to maximize revenues, and that is to generate new users. To maximize new users, Section 7:2:g gives the OLCC the authority to allow advertisements to promote consumption of marijuana.
  • Section 42 states that the State has exclusive rights to tax revenue: No city, county or other entity can levy any marijuana taxes.
  • The OLCC Cannot Deny Licenses to Known Criminals: Section 29:3:a clearly states that the OLCC cannot consider marijuana related convictions older than 5 years when issuing a license if it was a single transgression… no matter how bad it was. Period.
  • The OLCC and Other Agencies are Required to Violate Federal Law When it Conflicts with Measure 91 Language: Sections 10, 11 & 12 clearly state the OLCC and other agencies are required to violate federal law if it conflicts with measure 91, and no individual of an agency can be held liable for official acts. Also, the OLCC is not allowed to deny any marijuana license application based on a violation of federal law.
  • According to Section 58, Measure 91 will supercede all charters and ordinances that are inconsistent with the measure.
  • Section 54 states that the law enforcement can only issue a minor citation to pot-heads for smoking in public places.
  • Nowhere in the bill does it mention variations in potency or creating standards in THC content, or potency labeling requirements, as exists for producers of alcoholic beverages.
  • Nowhere in the bill does it require health warnings on packaging even though there is substantial clinical evidence marijuana is dangerous for pregnant women. Every single person in the Oregon General Election Voter’s Pamphlet who supports measure 91, supports omitting any and all health and safety warnings. Can you imagine nurses like Mark Jacklin, Maggi O’Brien, Pat Hughes, Rosemary Piser, and Davi Hawk actually wanting to deny safety information to pregnant women? What a shameful lot of healthcare providers.

Seriously, you better read this measure before you vote, because I can guarantee you, if Oregon voters pass this bill, innocent people are to get hit and killed by stoned drivers at rates never seen before. Your friends. Your family. Maybe you. It is already happening in Washington and Colorado.

Marijuana Users are 9X More Likely to be Involved in a Fatal Auto Accident While Driving than Alcohol Users

Discussing the merits and evils of marijuana with the 420 crowd is like discussing the bio-ethics with Jeff Spicoli. They are dull, stupid and listless, yet utterly stubborn in their single-minded desire to ease their access to their next bowl. While they are not a very physically action-oriented crowd, they are willing to say just about anything if it will help open a head shop in their neighborhood, no fact checking required. Making it up as they go along requires little effort and their cause literally feeds and grows on their fabrications, like stoners feed on Taco Bell. Vast falsehoods and outlandish myths shamelessly perpetrated by mere word of mouth, simply because they are too gorked to actually get off the couch and contribute anything meaningful to society.

Here is the fundamental list of what pot-heads want everyone to believe – and it is all wrong.

  • Marijuana is no different from alcohol.
  • Marijuana is not addictive.
  • Marijuana has never killed anyone.
  • Marijuana does not impair learning.
  • Marijuana does not affect a person’s ability to get and keep a good job.
  • Marijuana is not a gateway drug.
  • Marijuana does not impair intelligence.
  • Marijuana is safe for pregnant women, children and adolescents.
  • Marijuana has no negative health consequences what-so-ever.

Here are some actual facts taken from reputable sources such as Goodman & Gilman’s The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics and Jones-Witters Drugs & Society, a biological perspective. Real scientists. Real research. Real facts.

Alcohol is a water-soluble carbohydrate that is rapidly absorbed by the intestinal track. It takes the body about three hours to metabolize one ounce of ethanol. Intoxication is directly related to blood levels. Acute intoxication includes drunkenness, nausea, vomiting, and unconsciousness. Chronic abuse can lead to addiction and the symptoms of withdrawal include: tremors, irritability, nausea, sleep disturbances, rapid heart rate, sweating, seizures, fever and sweating. Chronic but moderate daily consumption poses no health risks outside of pregnancy. About 70% of Americans (about 225 million) regularly drink alcoholic beverages, but the vast majority of ingestion is at non-impairing doses. Long-term abuse damages the liver, heart and brain. Use during pregnancy can cause fetal-alcohol syndrome. About 34% of auto-accident driver fatalities involve alcohol.

THC (∆-9-tetrahydrocanabanol) is a fat-soluble drug that is extensively bound to blood proteins and absorbed by fatty tissue compartments. While a single dose will produce a pleasant state of relaxation for around two hours, it can take the body up to 30 days to metabolize and clear the drug. Acute intoxication can result in space and time distortions as well as mild anxiety and panic. Chronic, moderate users commonly suffer from “amotivational syndrome,” where they are unable to generate any interest in goal-directed activities such as school, work, athletics or social gatherings. THC is modestly addictive and has a withdrawal syndrome consisting of restlessness, irritability, mild agitation, insomnia, sleep disturbances, nausea and cramping. Approximately 6% of Americans (about 19 million) use marijuana regularly, and almost 100% of use is intended to achieve a state of cognitive impairment. Like smoking tobacco, smoking marijuana regularly has clearly demonstrated reductions in pulmonary function, including COPD, and cannabis tar applied to the skin of test mice has produced pre-cancerous lesions similar to those generated by tobacco tar. THC passes through the placental barrier and concentrates in a fetus’s lipid tissues like the brain. It is also found in breast milk. Chronic use has a negative affect on spermatogenesis, and has demonstrated a four-fold increase in miscarriages in primate studies.

In 2009 21,978 drivers were killed in motor vehicle crashes. Of those drivers tested postmortem by the government (odd as it seems, not all drivers killed in auto accidents are tested for impairing substances – requirements vary from state to state) 34% tested positive for alcohol and 25% tested positive for THC. Despite being outnumbered by alcohol users by nearly 12 to 1, pot-heads are involved in nearly as many fatal accidents. As a matter of fact, pot-heads overall risk in 2009 of dying behind the wheel per 100,000 in population is 28.9. The risk for regular alcohol users is a mere 3.3 deaths per 100,000 in population. GOT THAT 420 CROWD? You are nearly 9X more likely to die behind the wheel than your average drinker. That infers you are 9X more likely to kill an innocent person while driving because of you own selfish need to get baked. That means you are significantly stupider than the average Joe. As in chronically impaired judgment and behavior that is consistent with and suggestive of a lower IQ.

NYT Journalist, Sabrina Tavernise, Misses the Boat on Looming Narcotic Restrictions by the DEA

In Move to Curb Drug Abuse, D.E.A. Tightens Rule on Widely Prescribed Painkiller – NYTimes.com.

Sabrina Tavernise has missed the boat so many times I am surprised she has not fallen off the pier and ruined her pantsuit. In her recent article documenting the upcoming change in schedule for the narcotic hydrocodone, Tavernise notes that since the late 1990s “the number of Americans who die from prescription drug overdose have more than tripled,” without stopping to ask, “Why?” After all, the heart of the issue is the question, “Why?” What happened in the late 1990s that set off this rapid rise in the abuse of prescription controlled substances? It is not just narcotics, either. There has also been a rapid rise in the use and abuse of prescription amphetamines over the last 20 years, as well as a massive increase in our country’s dependence on psychotropic drugs for conditions like depression, anxiety and insomnia. There is a pill for everything in America, and Americans are lining up around the block to get a piece of that action.

The answer lies largely in specific government actions. There was a time when it was illegal for drug manufacturers to advertise directly to the common man. It was a sensible law, because the common man simply does not have the level of education to know when and what drug therapies are appropriate. Unfortunately, along came the lobbyists, PACs and campaign donors who threw a lot of money at politicians to change the rules. Now drug manufacturers can go directly to the people with the magical thinking of advertising, convincing America it needs more drugs. Now Joe Citizen walks into the doctor’s office and demands that new drug for insomnia he saw on a 2AM advertisement. Joe gets his wish, and then gets hooked on an addictive sedative. Here is an interesting tidbit. Despite the massive increase in people on anti-depressive drugs over the last twenty-five years, America’s suicide rate has hardly budged. We are spending our money and taking the drugs, yet are no better off than we were before.

As for the massive increase in narcotic use since the late 1990s, you can get that story of specific, targeted government action right here.

More Middle-Aged Adults Hospitalized for Drug-Related Suicide Attempts

More Middle-Aged Adults Hospitalized for Drug-Related Suicide Attempts.

It looks like, despite what Sabrina Tavernise and Maxine Bernstein preach, that suicide is really a mental health issue and does not have anything to do with firearms.

Pharmacy Times Magazine Sents Out Fake Survey Request

Why are people so bleeding dishonest all the time? As though it does not occur to them that personal and professional integrity actually have value. As though the words honesty and integrity are merely corporate buzz-words like leverage, alignment, holistic, open-door, and value-added. Words that, at the end of the day, are really vacuous, meaningless garble. You are either honest or you are not. You cannot behave dishonestly and then lay claim to being honest… unless you are a politician… then it is a job requirement. You cannot be deceitful and claim to have integrity… unless you are a politician… then, once again, it is a job requirement.

So what exactly is my beef with Pharmacy Times, a magazine that nobody but pharmacists reads and is really, really boring? They sent me a really stupid e-mail, that is what.

Pharmacy Times gave the e-mail a really great title, “We want your opinion on discount drug coupons and co-pay cards!”

“What a great subject!” I thought to myself because, in truth, I am a bit boring. Manufacturer discount and co-pay cards are a pain in the ass. For those of you who are not familiar with these programs, I will sum up quickly. Drug manufacturers like to charge really high prices for their drugs in hopes that insurance companies will pay. Insurance companies tend to charge patients really high co-pays for the really expensive drugs that patients often cannot afford. To entice the patient to still purchase their overpriced drug, the company will give the patient a rebate card, to offset a portion of the co-pay. The really busy, understaffed, overworked pharmacist, then has to stop what ever important task they are working on and enter the coupon into the computer and process it so the patient can get a reasonable price. It is the world’s most inefficient, time-consuming way for a manufacturer to lower the price on their product. Frankly, it cheapens my profession and is a boil in the ass of pharmacy.

So when Pharmacy Times actually offered me a chance to voice my opinion on the matter, I jumped at the chance. I hate these frickin’ cards! But no! That is not what the survey was! It was a one question advertisement asking me if I had ever heard of Pharmacy Times new Coupon and Co-Pay Resource. Pharmacy Times did not want my opinion at all. Pharmacy Times CEO’s name is Tighe Blazier, not that anyone cares. And is that a fake name? Like Ford Prefect? In my opinion Chevy Blazier would have been better, even kinda cool, but we already know PT does not really want my opinion. Hey there, Chevy, don’t ask for my opinion if you really don’t want it. Jerk. Maybe next time you will answer my e-mails asking why you are such a jerk, jerk. Though this is more fun. Jerk.

Sorry to bore you all with my little rant, but that is my opinion.

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?