Those in the chronic pain community are having to live with rules established during our country’s Prohibitionist Period in the early 1900’s by Congress and our Judicial system.
The genesis of the current war on drugs was created by Congress in 1914 when it passed The Harrison Narcotic Act whose passage was motivated by bigotry and racism. Around the same time our court system determined that the mental health disease, addiction was a crime when opiates were involved in the addiction.
So Congress created this “black market” for opiates and Marijuana and the judicial system made it illegal for physicians to treat addicts. Keep in mind this was before women had the right to vote, alcohol prohibition was years off, the FDA had only been around for several years. There was no insulin for diabetics, no penicillin and the polio vaccine was decades away. Our healthcare was still in a virtual “dark ages”.
And yet today, over a hundred years later, we are still having to deal with medical decisions made by a judicial system that declared those people with the mental health disease of addiction as criminals.
Recently, it was reported in Florida that the parents of a four y/o that had just been discharged from a Florida hospital after having a cancerous kidney removed, had THREE PHARMACIES refuse to fill pain medication for this child. Should those Pharmacists be charged with child abuse? I am sure that the parents would have been if they had refused to give their child the prescribed pain medication after his surgery.
There are an estimated 106 million chronic pain patients, plus a untold number of patients suffering from subjective diseases (depression, anxiety, ADD/ADHD, mental health ) and a untold number of healthcare professionals and DEA registrants (Pharmacies, drug wholesalers, prescribers, manufacturers) that are being instilled with fear of the DEA and having them showing up on their office doorstep one day – dressed in their full blown S.W.A.T. attire – scaring the crap out of patients and employees as they storm the premises.
The number has to exceed 150 million, there was only a total of 126 million votes in the last Presidential election and only 5 million votes separating the winner from the loser.
One has to ask the question, there are so many business organizations and professional association with some very deep pockets why they haven’t challenged the constitutionality of that 100 year old court ruling that a person suffering from the mental health disease of addiction, and their substance of choice is some opiate derived substance or Marijuana, is automatically considered a criminal.
Those people who are addicted to Nicotine, while have fewer and fewer places where they can light up, but they are still able to purchase various Nicotine gum, patches, spray to accommodate their addiction and get their “fix” legally. Which the commercials for these products describe withdrawal as a “craving.”
Those people that are addicted to alcohol (alcoholics) are free to accommodate their addictive needs as they see fit as long as they are not drunk in public or drive while drunk. A bartender can be held responsible for serving a person too many drinks, but a clerk at a package liquor store has no such limitations or liabilities.
When is the last time you have seen a S.W.A.T. storm a legally licensed gambling establishment, yet we all are aware that there are probably a certain number of gambling addicts within the building ?
Has the fear of the DEA and our judicial system become so great that no one , even some multi-billion dollar corporations, will not take up the legal challenge of the constitutionality of a 100 year old court ruling , maybe the constitutionality of the Harrison Narcotic Act itself.
As citizens of the USA, we are guaranteed the right to the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness. That raises a couple of important questions:
- Is the determination by our judicial system that non-violent, victimless addicts are criminals a violation of our personal rights?
- Is the interference by the DEA, judicial system and elected politicians to a person’s access to optimized pain management a violation of our personal rights?
I don’t think the answers to that question are what they should be.
Steve Ariens is a retired pharmacist, who is married to a chronic pain patient, blogs on these issues. Steve also is National Public Relations Director for The Pharmacy Alliance.