In a lengthy article at The American Scholar, physician and journalist David Brown explores the genesis and state of the prescription opioid* problem in the United States. He traces the history of it in terms of evolving attitudes towards the treatment of pain and patients’ perception of pain in the medical profession and in society and ends with some recommendations.
I’m not sure how much I buy the recommendations, but, given the growing problem, I commend the article to your attention. Here’s a bit:
If the use of opioids for chronic pain were just making the practice of medicine less rewarding, the problem would be tolerable. But it’s changing the country, creating a new underclass in the United States, no less real (or less fraught with the potential for controversy) than the black underclass whose existence has been so central to American history of the past half century. The new underclass, mostly white, is distributed widely, with hot spots—Appalachia, rural New England, and surprisingly, far-northern California. Like those in the black underclass, members of the new underclass usually have no more than a high school education and suffer high unemployment. Unlike the black underclass, whose chief impediments are discrimination, social dysfunction, and the trauma of imprisonment, the new underclass is stymied by economic obsolescence, a sense of victimhood, and an exaggerated view of its own physical damage.
*Remember, when Not White people do it, it’s simply “drug addiction” and get them off the streets.