Pubdate: Sat, 06 Aug 2016
Source: Baltimore Sun (MD)
Copyright: 2016 The Baltimore Sun Company
Author: Mike Gimbel


For years the government's "war on drugs" focused on stopping the 
production of illegal drugs in countries like Bolivia, Peru, Mexico 
and Afghanistan.

While that effort was pretty much a failure, the U.S. pharmaceutical 
industry, the tobacco industry and the alcohol industry were 
producing record numbers of their products at home. As a result, more 
Americans now die from tobacco, alcohol and prescription drugs than 
all illegal drugs combined.

There is no doubt that drug companies and physicians share 
responsibility for the current opiate and heroin epidemic. The 
primary cause of the current drug epidemic is the overprescribing of 
prescription pain medications by physicians, who get very little 
training regarding the disease of addiction but are often the 
salespeople for new medications.

Now that America has recognized that the opiate and heroin epidemics 
do not discriminate and have struck middle-class communities, we are 
not ready for a real "war on drugs." So guess who is coming to our rescue?

Yes, the pharmaceutical industry is producing more drugs to combat 
our drug problem - a problem it helped create.

It doesn't make sense to me, and even Pope Francis was quoted as 
saying "you can't solve a drug problem with more drugs." But that is 
exactly what we are doing.

The pharmaceutical industry has created drugs such as methadone, 
buprenorphine, naltrexone and vivitrol to combat opiate addiction. 
The drug Narcan, which will reverse an opiate overdose, is now widely 
available. And lets not forget the many remedies to help stop 
smoking, including the nicotine patch, gum, lozenges and nasal spray. 
Disulfiram and naltrexone are popular medications now available to 
treat alcoholism.

While abstinence-based treatment programs struggle to survive and 
receive almost no government funds, and support groups like 
Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotic Anonymous continually get 
criticized, the so-called war on drugs has been won by the American 
pharmaceutical industry. As Dupont used to say: "Better life through 

Mike Gimbel The writer, a recovering addict and addiction expert, is 
the former Baltimore County drug czar.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom