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I have decided to write this letter to allow the readers of this newspaper to better understand the pain families deal with because of the negligence of some doctors here and elsewhere who prescribe pain killers as if they are handing out vitamins.
Most people do not know who these local doctors are, but those of us who have a family member who has become an addict know.
Law enforcement knows.
It is time that our legislature does something to curb the ability of the medical professionals to write prescriptions to those who become addicts and to some who turn around and sell these pills.
Many are receiving these medications are on TennCare. Many of these dealers are moving to Tennessee (because of TennCare) just to be able to get this poison and then turn around and sell them for as much as $100 each.
They are making huge profits off the taxpayers, and the doctors keep writing them prescriptions.
I am certainly not being critical of all doctors. Most are very aware of the addictive aspects of pain killers and are reluctant to write prescriptions for them.
In my youth, other drugs were common. The government stepped in and cracked down on the suppliers and dealers, making it much more difficult for people to get them. It is time for our legislature to act. They talk, but they do not act. Surly, there is a way to track prescriptions written by doctors, and then crack down on the ones who are not following the guidelines established by the state medical board.
If doctors have to take time to appear, and possibly lose their licenses, then I believe that they will be more cautious about writing prescriptions for unnecessary pain killers.
My story is like many other stories. A family member fell, and a doctor wrote them a prescription for oxycontin. Then the doctor allowed them to continue this medication for three months. By that time, you are hooked on them.
The abuse of pain killers is an epidemic that the common man does not understand. Law enforcement will tell you that most of the crime in our area occurs because people steal to get the money to buy them. The majority of people in jail are there because of crimes dealing with pain killers. This epidemic knows no economic class of people.
My family has suffered beyond anyone’s imagination. We are not alone. Someone in this county will die of an overdose every 17 days. In Knox County, ones dies of an overdose every six days. They are usually people younger than 25.
It is time to hold someone accountable. The question is who? My hope is that the debate over who to hold accountable will become an issue that our state legislature will address.
I also want to thank those in local government who took a stand not to allow pain clinics into our county, but that doesn’t solve the problem; they will just go somewhere else. The problem is that doctors have the power. Most doctors do a fantastic job in dealing with our medical issues, but there are those who are contributing to this epidemic. Surely something can be done.
Nothing is as sad as seeing students in our schools having to deal with parents who abuse prescription medicines. I see it nearly every day.
Look around, watch the news, look at the people who are prescription medication addicts. It will amaze you who they are. The families who have to deal with addiction are usually fine people who raised their children in good homes, with good values. They are devastated emotionally and financially when they must learn to deal with addiction. We have learned so much about additive behavior through Cornerstone in Knoxville. Do you realize that one out of every five people who drink alcohol or take drugs will become an addict?
Addiction is a terrible disease. I witnessed it personally as a child. Today it is not just alcohol, heroin, speed, morphine, but prescription medications.
Support the local agencies that are fighting against addiction. Become active in the Roane County Anti- Drug Coalition. Let’s make it difficult or impossible for our young people to gain access to these prescriptions.
Most families are ashamed that a family member may be an addict and hide it — sometimes, even from themselves. I have learned that will not work, and ends up creating a bigger problem.
Put faith in the experienced professionals who deal with this every day. Do not be ashamed, because that will lead to blaming yourself or others.
It is not your addiction, but it is something that you have to deal with.
There are people who will help you fight through the embarrassment and frustration. Many people have addictive traits, especially if they have had alcoholism or drug use in their family tree, but the doctors do not ask that!
Save our young people. Get involved and contact our state government representatives and together we can make a difference in our communities.
David Stevens, principal
Harriman Middle School