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    Physicians—not the government—should lead fight against opioid abuse

    In the national opioid epidemic, there is plenty of finger pointing as to who deserves the most blame.

     

    RELATED: A former opioid addict's story

     

    Pharma companies are being sued by states for creating weapons of mass addiction. Physicians are being scolded as poor gatekeepers to pain medications. Patients seeking doses to numb their own pain or find financial gain are also seen as culprits.

    But finger pointing won’t do anything to stop a crisis that has engulfed our nation and victimizes everyone from long-term drug abusers to teenagers on the honor roll at our local schools. There is no “common” abuser of these medications nor are there “bad” doctors pumping the streets full of pills. It’s not that simple. 

    Recently, announced he would declare the opioid crisis a national emergency, giving it both a designation normally reserved for diseases and outbreaks and with it, federal funding. And that’s a good first step. Numerous counties in the U.S. are overwhelmed by multiple overdoses each day without the resources to respond appropriately.

    And strategies recommended by the president’s opioid commission are valid: increasing treatment opportunities, addressing mental health issues and mandating better education for healthcare workers. But they came from legislators and policymakers, not practicing physicians.

     

    FURTHER READING: What can physicians do to help curb the opioid crisis?

     

    In August, Tom Price, MD, the now former secretary for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and a former orthopedic surgeon, spoke on behalf of the committee, putting a doctor at the forefront of the federal effort. 

    Next: We need to find a real solution

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