Perspectives: Damage Done By Opioid Overdoses Can Leave Families In A Bind; Congress Needs To Expand Treatments
Opinion pages focus on the impact of the opioid epidemic.
The New York Times:
He Survived An Overdose. Now What?
The simple fact that Andrew was living at home is somewhat miraculous. Heroin and fentanyl caused him to stop breathing, but he learned to breathe on his own again. His kidneys failed and then recovered. But Andrew’s brain, starved of oxygen too long, was left severely damaged. More than four years have passed since the overdose. For Andrew’s parents, the fear that their son will die has now been replaced by a new set of realities and unanswerable questions: Is this a good life? Is he happy? What will happen to him when they grow old? (Daniela J. Lamas, 8/16)
The Wall Street Journal:
Oregon Overshoots On Opioids
The Oregon Health Authority is contemplating a radical plan to end opioid coverage for many chronic-pain patients enrolled in the state’s Medicaid program. Beginning in 2020, physicians would have one year to fully taper off doses of medications such as Percocet, Vicodin and OxyContin. OHA’s chief medical officer says the agency believes “pain patients have been put at higher risk with regard to overprescribing.” Oregon’s proposal is a more extreme version of increasingly common policies that position dose reductions as the key to patient safety. But the available evidence does not show a safety benefit from mandatory, across-the-board opioid tapers. Instead of targeting those most at risk of overdose, the mandate would needlessly exacerbate suffering for thousands of patients. (Sally Satel and Stefan Kertesz, 8/16)
To Combat The Opioid Epidemic, Focus On The Forgotten Addict
In an attempt to combat one of the worst public health crises in the nation’s history, U.S. Senate committees are now debating a varied and wide range of legislation to fight the opioid epidemic. This follows the approval by the House of dozens of such bills. At first blush, it might seem like reason for optimism. But the legislation, while well intended, leaves a gaping hole in federal drug policy. It does not even mention, much less engage, with the most severely disordered drug abusers. I am talking about those who are often ignored and neglected — the hundreds of thousands who are so sick they can no longer function normally in society, have lost their family and employment ties, and have few resources to get the treatment they so desperately need. They are the ones most likely to be among the nearly 200 Americans who die every day from drug overdoses. (Mitchell S. Rosenthal, 8/16)