Opioid Crackdown: Illegal Prescriptions News
The news is flooded with information about the current opioid crisis in the United States. It is estimated that about 20-30% of patients using prescribed opioids for chronic pain will misuse them, and from July 2016 to September 2017 alone the number of opioid overdoses increased by 30% in 45 states.1 The widespread abuse of prescription painkillers seems to be spiraling out of control and drug rehabs are seeing an influx of opioid and heroin abusers. Pennsylvania in particular has also seen increased problems of opioid abuse with the number of opioid-related overdose deaths well above the national average in 2016.2
As a drug rehab in Pennsylvania, we are watching these numbers closely so that we can better help our patients. We have seen increase numbers of people requiring heroin or prescription drug addiction treatment. But the biggest question is: why? How are people so easily able to abuse these drugs? There are many reasons for the opioid crackdown. But doctors may be part of the problem.
Prescription Drug Arrests
In April an opioid crackdown led to the arrest of dozens of doctors and medical health professionals for illegal prescriptions for patients of millions of painkillers. The healthcare professions who have been charged come from Alabama, West Virginia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Ohio, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania. These professionals are faced with a possible 20-year prison sentence for each count.
According to the Washington Post, some of the doctors arrested for prescription drugs have even been accused of trading illegal prescriptions for cash and even sexual favors. One story recounts a dentist who pulled unnecessary teeth just to prescribe these patients pain pills. A nurse in Pennsylvania used fake names to give herself phony prescriptions of oxycodone.
While doctors are often idealized and thought of as outstanding members of society, this bust proves that this may not always be the case – unfortunately, there are some bad apples. Brian Benczkowski, Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s criminal division, stated, “If these medical professionals behave like drug dealers, you can rest assured that the Justice Department is going to treat them like drug dealers.” The Washington Post has the full story.
What is the solution? Because opioid abuse in the country is increasing, it is likely that more big busts of illegal prescriptions are to come. Healthcare professions who suspect that a patient may have a problem should focus on getting them help with an inpatient detox center. While this is only part of the problem, every little bit can help.
Whether you or your loved one is struggling with an opioid addiction, you do not need to be ashamed. You are not alone. Get help today with our opiate addiction treatment in Pennsylvania. Reach out to us at 570-536-9621 to get your life back.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse – Opioid Overdose Crisis
- National Institute on Drug Abuse – Pennsylvania: Opioid-Involved Deaths and Related Harms