The War on Drugs, which began in the United States in the 1970s, saw a national initiative toward eradicating illicit drug use across the country. Marketing, commercials, and societal mindsets were all dedicated to demonizing any drug not prescribed by a doctor, and for a good reason.
Unfortunately, this mindset has encountered a whole new beast – the opioid crisis. The dangers of addiction and overdose are easily overlooked, and more patients have found themselves in the midst of a debilitating disease of both the mind and body.
As public health officials tirelessly work toward developing new solutions, others have different concerns on their minds: how can they make money out of this epidemic? Clearbrook explores the concept of Pill Mills and the damage they have caused.
Two Sides to the Opioid Crisis
As this epidemic rages on, various groups of people are negatively affected by the damage of widespread opioid abuse. For one, policies and restrictions have been put in place designed to mitigate the damage that abuse of these substances can cause. This has influenced many doctors to abandon patients who genuinely respond well to opioid treatment.
Many people have found themselves in the midst of such an addiction due to a severe accident or condition that leaves them in a constant state of physical pain. Their doctors prescribed them a substance but perhaps did not monitor the removal of these medications closely enough. Then, of course, there are irresponsible individuals who just got a taste of an opioid from their dealer.
Unfortunately, many people are now left with far fewer treatment options, even in cases of legitimate chronic pain. When people are driven into such a desperate position to either relieve their symptoms (or get their fix), others with questionable intentions have learned to adapt.
What Is a Pill Mill?
In 1979, a Canadian doctor by the name of David Herbert Procter established an office in South Shore, Kentucky. It specialized in pain management and served as one of the first breeding grounds for opioid distribution. The business was inflated due to the rise of the popularity of OxyContin (a brand name for Oxycodone), leading to the employment of more doctors to run budding practices. Thus, Pill Mills were born.
In one of these facilities, physicians (or supervised staff) prescribe opioids for inflated or even non-existent pain. These mills are often owned by non-medical personnel and typically only accept payment in cash. Credit cards and insurance payments are foregone in order to avoid as many paper trails as possible. No medical records are needed to warrant a prescription, and strong painkillers are distributed to individuals in the midst of addiction and/or chronic pain. This highlights the fact that these clinics are not created to treat pain but rather capitalize on it.
Health Is More Important Than Money
This should go without saying but sadly does not seem to be the case in the minds of the people that operate these businesses. As they lined their pockets, more patients fell deeper into addiction with seemingly no way out. It is a solid example of the damage that can occur when profit is prioritized over people’s well-being.
At Clearbrook’s Pennsylvania rehab, we recognize this harm and work tirelessly to provide vulnerable individuals with the care they need. Addiction is not something to be ashamed of. In fact, acknowledging that a problem exists is one of the bravest actions we can take. Our detox in PA is an excellent first step that will help prepare your body and mind for programs to follow.