Pubdate: Mon, 11 Apr 2016
Source: Buffalo News (NY)
Copyright: 2016 The Buffalo News
Authors: Walter Simpson and Nan Simpson


The practice of medicine and the humane treatment of patients would 
take giant steps backward if policy solutions to the opioid addiction 
"crisis" did not guarantee that people who need opioids for pain 
relief will still be able to access these critically important 
medications in sufficient amounts without additional hardship. We 
raise this issue because already some doctors have said they will 
avoid prescribing these medications in response to new laws and rules.

There is reason to be concerned that the response to this latest drug 
crisis will involve policy mistakes. After all, that's the history of 
the entire war on drugs. It was recently reported that John 
Ehrlichman, a top aide to President Richard Nixon, admitted that 
Nixon initiated the "war on drugs" in the early 1970s as a political 
maneuver to use law enforcement to arrest and imprison hippies, 
protesters and African-Americans. Since then, literally $1 trillion 
has been spent on this ill-conceived failed "war" that has ruined 
countless lives, causing so much more harm than good.

Thankfully, the opioid crisis is being viewed primarily as a public 
health issue, which deserves a public health response. This humane 
course of action should be equally applied to those who really need 
opioids for pain relief. Moreover, it should prompt us to reconsider 
all drug laws that have criminalized and punished other drug users. 
It's time to end the incarceration of people senselessly imprisoned 
for personal drug use and nonviolent drug offenses.

Walter Simpson

Nan Simpson, R.N.

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