Opiate crisis has caused another type of crisis

As almost everyone knows, there is an opiate crisis in this country at this time. The DEA with hospitals and doctors cooperating are united in stamping out the illegal use of opiates by persons who use them for “recreational” purposes. Many of these persons are dying from overdoses. This problem constitutes the “first opiate crisis.”

What most people may now know, however, is that there is a second crisis — just as terrible as the first and related to it. There are numerous patients who rightfully need opiates within a pain management program. Unfortunately, many of these people are being weaned off their pain medication entirely, or worse still, are being cut off abruptly. These are the unintentional victims of the first crisis. Too many of them are being driven to suicide by unendurable pain. Obviously, something must be done to separate legitimate users from illegitimate ones.

For what it’s worth, I hazard the following solution: Create local boards of review (along county lines for example), which would be composed of local doctors, whose job it would be to oversee individual opiate prescriptions, thereby ensuring the legitimacy of each prescription. A consensus of opinion on the part of the opiate reviewers would determine who gets opiates and who does not.

How to pay for this service? Impose fees for the original determination and for subsequent reviews. Subsequent reviews (perhaps every six months) would also “ride herd” on the outstanding prescriptions. Who would pay for this service? Possibly state governments along with insurance companies — or maybe part of the tax collected on cigarette sales could be devoted to helping fund the program.

I think this approach might work. Why not examine the concept in greater detail by people who are in a better position than I to determine its feasibility.

One thing is certain, we cannot allow our neighbors to suffer in agony.

THOMAS NAST

Gloversville