One question - who allowed this to happen? "This" is the oxycontin addiction plague that has swept through northern native communities and may leave enormous suffering in its wake when the drug is abruptly removed from distribution next month. Oxycontin, the so-called "hillbilly heroin", drug of choice of addicts like Rush Limbaugh.
It is reported that some northern communities have oxycontin addiction rates in excess of 50% of the population. Imagine half a village facing opioid withdrawal at once.
Getting doctors to prescribe opioids more appropriately needs to be part of the solution, because many of them may just unwittingly switch their patients to other equally addictive drugs, such as hydromorph contin, fentanyl or morphine, said [Dr. Meldon Kahan, medical director of addiction medicine service at St. Joseph’s Health Centre in Toronto] .
Hydromorph contin, for example, provides a sustained release of hydromorphone, which like OxyContin can be crushed, injected and is fully covered under the Ontario drug benefit plan.
“This is a very unusual public health crisis because it was generated by the medical system,” said Kahan. “Doctors' knowledge of this is not very high, because they don’t get much training on it.”
Say what? Don't these doctors read newspapers or watch shows like 60 Minutes that has run exposes on OxyContin abuse? If the general public knows the perils of this drug any doctor who claims he doesn't is either incompetent or a liar.
Affixing blame is necessary to prevent this happening again. It's part of fixing a system that is very plainly broken. That said, someone has to take responsibility for the addiction nightmare that will be sweeping the north in just a few weeks. If we have any claim to being a civilized society, we just cannot leave these addicts to their fate.
Maybe it's time the medical profession took responsibility for the failure of its own members. They want to be a self-governing profession. That privilege comes with responsibilities to society including overseeing the standards of practice and the continuing education of members. It was members of the medical profession who earned fees writing these prescriptions and we expected them to act responsibly when we granted them that authority. A good many of them obviously abused that privilege and now they and the profession that failed to regulate them should make good the suffering in the north.