Need V. Patel writes for Popular Science: For many teens, the battle with opioid addiction starts with wisdom teeth.
In a new study published in JAMA on Monday, researchers from Stanford University and the University of California, San Francisco found that among around 15,000 patients aged 16 to 25 who received opioids from their dentists, almost 7 percent went back to a healthcare provider for additional opioids between 3 and 12 months later.
For myself, this holds very true. In 1999, 2000, or 2001 (I’m not certain exactly when I had my wisdom teeth out), I had this very common surgery, and the oral surgeon sent me, a teenager, home with a few weeks worth of Vicodin. I came back within days complaining about the pain and he sent me home with another few weeks worth of the addictive pain killer. Had I been more resourceful at that age, I would have sought out more on the blackmarket and may have wound up as part of one of Ohio’s worst statistics.
The over prescribing of addictive painkillers is only a part of the opioid issue. The second part of that is the doctor didn’t tell me that the drug carried a high risk of addiction. The pharmacist that filled the prescription didn’t either. And I do remember the anti-drug programs in elementary school clearly made the distinction between the “good” drugs that you would get from your doctor and the “bad” drugs that you’d get from that sketchy friend. The system that we were told held nothing but benevolent intent was revealed that, at least some of it, doesn’t care about our well being, only how much it can dig out of our pockets. This is also feeds into the factually deficient conspiracy theory that vaccines are somehow bad for kids.
Fortunately there are some legal challenges against the corporate drug dealers who have been selling addictive drugs:
- CBS News: Judge orders Johnson & Johnson to pay Oklahoma $572 million for fueling state’s opioid crisis
- Bloomberg Business: Sackler Family Backs $11.5 Billion Purdue Opioid Settlement
And these rulings, in my opinion, are only a good start.