Rx for OxyContin addicts: ‘chop wood in northern Canada’

What will happen to the 200,000 or more Canadian OxyContin addicts now that this opiod narcotic is no longer available? For years these people have embarked on a willful act of self-destruction.

Isn’t it about time for society to get its priorities straight? To care more for those who have lived a good lifestyle, paid their taxes and when dying of cancer, suffer needless agony because there’s no money for more palliative centers in this country.

Those who are rallying to help OxyContin addicts are making a series of illogical errors. Purdue Pharma, makers of OxyContin, also made a blunder. It spent needless money producing OxyNEO, an opiod version of OxyContin that resists crushing or liquefying so addicts can’t snort or inject it.

Toronto made the same illogical move when it spent millions building a protective fence to prevent people from jumping off the Bloor Street aqueduct. Now instead they jump in front of speeding subway trains. OxyContin addicts will similarly resort to other addictive drugs such as heroin and hydromorphone.

But just how sick are OxyContin addicts? I have no personal experience in treating addicts. But Theodore Dalrymple, a British prison doctor and psychiatrist, has looked after addicts for years. In his book Romancing Opiates he writes that heroin is not as highly addictive as is claimed, and withdrawal from this drug is not medically serious. He adds that a useless bureaucracy has been established to deal with addicts.

I say “Amen” to that one.

Dalrymple says he has observed addicts laughing and talking in his waiting area. But once inside his consulting room they appear to be “in extremis”. And when he takes them to task for this sudden change of health they admit they were “blagging.”

I think Dalrymple is right. Years ago when I was researching heroin in England I saw cancer patients on huge doses of heroin. But if there was a remission of the cancer they could be quickly weaned off this painkiller.

I realize there are hardcore addicts that will never be weaned off drugs. But our irresponsibly permissive approach to others seeking a ‘high’ has resulted in a bureaucracy costing millions of dollars.

And it’s not working. How could it be? Over 200,000 are prescription addicts, tens of thousands are using illegal drugs and in some communities half of the people are addicted to medication.

Years ago in this column I predicted this would happen if we did not follow Singapore’s law, the death sentence to those who brought heroin into the country. Now our lenient attitude to drug pushers has resulted in an over-medicated drug addicted society. Now that we have the problem what can be done about it? I’d bet my last dollar that a huge number of those taking illegal drugs and OxyContin are being treated with the wrong prescription.

They don’t need more doctors, social workers or politicians handing out more money for methadone facilities and injection sites. What they require is a tough sergeant-major stationed in northern Canada. His orders would be simple, “Up at 6 a.m. and start chopping wood.”

It would result in a speedy cure.

I can already hear the hollering from the do-gooders. But I don’t give a damn if some readers think I’m a Hard-Hearted Hannah.

I’ve been part of a group trying to raise funds for over a year for more palliative care centers for dying patients in this country. And because we’re dealing with death, rather than what people consider a more respectable problem, like heart disease, we have few donations.

So if this country was bursting with dollars and could provide care to everyone, I wouldn’t give a damn how addicts were treated. But we’re not wallowing in dollars. And it’s unjust when those who choose to endanger their lives get more financial assistance for methadone centers and injection sites than those who are dying in agony.

Hippocrates, the father of medicine, preached that punishment was a form of medicine. I agree, and a good start for OxyContin addicts would be Course 101 in chopping wood. What do you think?

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