The government thrives on crisis. If it doesn’t have one, it will create one, in order to justify wasting more money and grabbing more power. The “opioid crisis” is a case in point. To suggest this is a manufactured crisis invites challenge, because I am a lone voice against a deluge of government, media, institutional, industry, and public claimants who insist the “crisis” is real and in need of drastic counter-crisis interventions.
As I recently trudged the forty hours of propaganda training necessary to renew my medical license, I noted a new requirement by the state of Georgia to undergo three hours of training in opioids. In studying the materials, I also learned about Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs), which are “state-operated databases that collect data on dispensed medications. They periodically send reports to law enforcement, regulators, and licensing agencies, as part of an effort to control diversion of medication by prescribers, pharmacies, and organized criminals.”
Let’s be clear, here. The histrionic references to the “opioid epidemic,” this “public health emergency,” and its fatalities usually involve heroin, which is increasingly adulterated with fentanyl. Heroin is absolutely illegal in the US, so no doctor can prescribe it. Fentanyl is used in surgery and exists as a patch, and is not injectable. Most fentanyl is obtained illegally, and some sources say it is coming from China.
So the database to track prescribers and users of controlled substances sounds more like a government control strategy than any genuine attempt to protect users from overdoses.
Meanwhile, as I stewed over the “gotcha game” of putting doctors in the firing line of this artificial crisis—damned if you do and damned if you don’t–I received a notice requiring me to show up in court for federal jury duty. Unlike jury duty for local court (which I did a month ago), there is a dress code for the feds. Women must wear a dress or pants suit. So I hauled out my one dress—a fall dress—and washed most of the musty smell out of it. Already I was plotting ways to get myself disqualified without going to jail.
I have long protested the almost rabid encroachment of the federal government on individuals, most vividly embodied in drug laws. I retired over the virtual mandate to prescribe, with psychiatrists marginalized into “medication managers,” and psychotherapy turfed to less expensive psychologists and social workers.
Meanwhile, drug laws as part of the patriarchal government control and revenue machine has a long history.
Wars have been fought over opiates. Although their medicinal powers have been known for at least 6000 years, in the Middle East, Roman, and Greek civilizations, and Asia, the practice of smoking opium was brought to China in the 1600s by European traders. By 1729, there was so much addiction that China outlawed it because it made opium smokers unfit for work or the military. However, the British used slaves in India to grow the opium poppy and to smuggle the drug into China. Presumably, the Chinese were willing to buy the opium with gold, and gold was leaving the country. This led to the Opium Wars, which the British won, and through the Treaty of Nanjing and subsequent ones, forced China open to trade with the Western World.
My Goodman and Gillman’s The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics claims that “opioids have been the mainstay of pain treatment for thousands of years, and remain so today.” Opiates and opioids are highly addictive, and tolerance to their euphoric effects builds faster than to physical effects, such as respiratory depression. This can lead to fatal overdoses, as the user takes more and more drug to reach euphoric levels. When combined with other drugs that depress the respiratory center, like benzodiazepines (such as Valium, Ativan, or Xanax), or alcohol, the risk for fatal overdose is magnified.
The Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914 put the federal government in control of every aspect of the opiate and coca supply-and-distribution chain, as well as insuring taxing power over them. There are strong arguments that it was a racial discrimination tool. It was claimed that cocaine was improving Southern blacks’ gun marksmanship and causing them to rape white women. Chinese immigrants were seducing white women with opium. Later, the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 was used to control the Mexican immigrants who had used marijuana as part of their culture for centuries. US citizens, who had used “cannabis” in their tonics, did not know it was the same substance as the Mexicans’ “marihuana.”
Fast forward to 1970, when the Controlled Substances Act (Richard Nixon), instituted a schedule for approved substances. Both heroin and marijuana were assigned to Schedule I status: no medical benefit and absolutely illegal.
The Drug Enforcement Administration was created as a sub-agency under the Department of Justice on July 1, 1973 to enforce the Controlled Substances Act, among other things.
The “War on Drugs,” begun by President Nixon in 1971, was vigorously pursued by President Ronald Reagan, who took office in 1981. For-profit prisons began emerging after 1980 to accommodate the massive incarcerations that resulted. Reagan’s Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 dramatically increased the number of incarcerations and length of sentences for drug-related convictions. As of 2008, 90.7 percent of federal prisoners were incarcerated for non-violent offenses. At present, the US has the highest rate of incarceration in the world, 724/100,000 people, compared with Russia in second place, with 581/100,000 doing time in prisons, jails, on probation or parole. The US has 25% of the entire world’s incarcerated population, with black men comprising almost half.
Laws cause crime, according to me, and drug laws are especially guilty of creating the criminal element that is filling the prisons. So last week, when the federal judge read the indictments against the young, black, male defendant, who was charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana, I knew I could not be impartial. The judge listed all the members of the federal prosecution team, the local narcotics squad, and the members of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation team who had participated in this gang bang (my take) on this one guy and his lone, white, female attorney. When the judge asked if anyone had any issues with the federal government, my hand shot up.
I was handed the microphone, stated my name, and said I retired over drug laws. The judge asked if I could consider the facts of the case as they applied to the laws. I said the laws themselves are criminal, and, to my mind, the federal government is on trial, here. It is guilty of practicing medicine, and the defendant is innocent. (That’s how I remember it, anyway.)
“At least she’s honest,” the judge said. At that point all the lawyers agreed that I would not be a good juror. I was dismissed and did not get arrested on the way out.
Now, we have the ongoing “opioid crisis,” a new twist on an old theme, once again designed to control through fiat and insider collusion, people’s rights to self-governance. The institutional powers-that-be have ganged up to push misleading propaganda on the public. First, the officially prescribed “cure” for this crisis is more money, and more government and institutional control, specifically for “medication-assisted treatment.”
The misrepresentation in reporting shows in its superficiality, with slants calculated to confuse the facts. First, in reporting numbers of fatal overdoses, heroin is included with other opioids, including prescription pain medications. Heroin exists in its own category, because no doctor can prescribe it, so there is no legal way to obtain it. Doctors are being targeted for over-prescribing opioid pain killers, so there’s the push to put more controls on prescribing MDs.
Another flaw in the reported statistics is that “overdoses” are not broken down to determine how many drugs may have contributed to the death. Accidental overdoses of all medications are increasing, primarily because people are taking too many different medications—not all psychotropics– with cumulative side effects, including respiratory depression.
“Medication-assisted treatment,” is—no matter what they claim—substituting one pill for another, and yet another plank in the pill-pushing platform of the “health-care industry.” The three drugs approved for treating “opioid use disorder” by the FDA include methadone (an opioid agonist) and buprenorphine (an opioid agonist-antagonist) —both opioids themselves—and naltrexone (an opioid antagonist). Now, “providers” need special licenses and special training to prescribe buprenorphine.
The psychiatric establishment is pushing for more funding for more “addiction specialists” and more legislation to curb this dangerous trend. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb is pushing for more funding for more treatment and insurance coverage. They brag about how all the professional and government organizations have joined in “partnership” with drug companies to find ever more effective strategies for treatment.
Never mind that an internet search leads to addicts who extol the highs they experience from buprenorphine. Addicts are happy with methadone, too, and can fairly easily switch dependencies, especially if they add other drugs. The high from buprenorphine isn’t as good as with heroin, they claim, but it can be enhanced with benzos like Valium. The withdrawal is easier than with heroin, but it lasts longer. Nausea and vomiting are problems.
Never mind that most substance abuse treatment is notoriously ineffective, with most studies following patients for a year or less. The mainstay of treatment since 1935 has been the non-pharmacological approach of Alcoholics Anonymous and its spin-offs, like Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and Cocaine Anonymous (CA).
So where’s the crisis? It is claimed Prohibition gave rise to organized crime, because the best way to raise the price of anything is to put controls on it. Do laws cause crime? With all the lawyers practicing medicine in Congress and in the Supreme Court, I have to wonder if they do.