Let us talk opioids. America’s white working class is plagued with opiate addiction, particularly in the Midwest where towns have been economically, and socially, decimated by jobs being shipped overseas to China. Without a job, unable to support his family, and with most of his more adapt friends gone for greener pastures, the working-class man is tempted by the easy escape offered by opioids.
However, many Americans are introduced to opioids before desperation hits. To quote from Trey Garrison’s Opioids for the Masses, “In a way, it’s simple. Their first taste came from a person they trusted most—their doctor. Some might sneer at “pill poppers” for a moral failing, but the number one wayAmericans are introduced to prescription opioids is when they get them for acute pain for minor or major surgeries. The second most common way is wisdom tooth removal. The average age of recipients of opioids for wisdom tooth removal is seventeen years old.” Prescription opioids, while helpful in certain situations, create opiate receptors in the brain, meaning that the brain begins to crave opioids. As a man who never smoked in his life will not have nicotine cravings, so a patient never prescribed opioids will never have an opioid craving. When times get desperate and something lighter like kratom or heavier like heroin becomes available, the brain is already primed to respond to these drugs and to form stronger attachments to them.Over time increasingly stronger, and more frequently available,opioids are needed until the inevitable ruin occurs.
What can be done about this? To stop an effect, we need to stop the cause(s). If Joe Shmo wants to stop being fired from his job (the effect) he needs to stop the causes (habitually showing up late and not completing his tasks). What, then, are the causes of opioid addiction? We mentioned two: desperation and exposure from a trusted authority (the family doctor). Two policies can be proposed to address these causes, thus eliminating the effect.
Policy One: Desperation
First, let it be proposed that manufacturing plants who move overseas will have their assets seized and their bank accounts frozen. Second, let subsidies be given to domestic manufactures on condition that, within one year following the reception of the subsidy, that the manufacture has hired more employees and that the wages of every employee has increased.
Part one of this policy can be framed as, and indeed it is, a supply line necessity. Given the current supply line crises in America, let alone the national security risk of having little domestic manufacturing, companies that move their operations overseas are exacerbating America’s economic crises in exchange for workers who will work for little and will tolerate abuse from their bosses. All it takes is one manufacture having its assets seized and its bank account(s) frozen for every other company to fall in line.
Part two of this policy should get easy Democrat approval and could get Republican approval if it is successfully argued that the conditions attached to the subsidy would put more money into the market and thus increase consumption. If graphs showing that people with jobs and high wages stimulate the economy through more spending were made (which should be fairly easy) and shown to congress, or state legislatures, then the likelihood of this passing would increase…politicians love graphic visualization.
Policy Two: Exposure
This policy would need input from a medical professional, but the basic outline would be as such: doctors are able to be sued if they prescribe a drug stronger than is necessary. You can see where medical advice is needed. I would be terrified if a cancer patient were denied painkillers because someone got to giddy about wiping out opioids. There might be appropriate times for them, but I am not a doctor so I cannot really say.
The rationale behind this is twofold. First, patients that do not need opioids, as in they would not be able to function without such a heavy painkiller, should not be prescribed them. There are numerous painkillers not as addictive as opioids, but strong enough to manage pain. Second, this would provide a guard against doctors pushing drugs that they receive commission on. Yes, this has been documented and is a major problem in America’s health care industry. This policy will receive more pushback than the previous one because it is an attack on a hornet’s nest. Experienced parliamentarians backed by a social media army would be needed.
I am sure that there are other contributing causes to opioid use, but these two appear to be primary. The above two polices are rough sketches that need to be developed in the following ways: adjusting for current laws, writing a feasibility study, and developing a white paper. It is my hope that someone more competent in these fields can take it from here and bring America closer to curing the opioid epidemic.