Florida Professor Identifies Historical Pattern In Opioid Crisis

Last Updated: September 22, 2023

The opioid epidemic might seem almost hopeless right now. With new and more disturbing statistics making their way into the state and national dialogue every month and more people dying from opioid addiction, the light at the tunnel seems farther away.

Take heart. The current addiction crisis is not the first in American history. It is not even the first opioid epidemic. Such an epidemic was defeated before through better education and more effective alternatives to powerful opioid drugs. Professor David Courtwright of the University of Florida believes there is hope now if lawmakers, educators, medical professionals, and addicts have the courage to pursue it.

1800s America Was More Similar to Today Than You Might Think

Drug addiction is not a new concept and neither is the way many people become addicted. While patients trust their health to the care of licensed physicians, those physicians are frequently the ones who set patients on the path to addiction in the first place. The same turn of events emerged in the 1800s.

Courtwright’s research, which he discusses at The Academic Institute, shows that opioid addiction in America peaked once before, over 150 years ago, with morphine. Patients did not become addicts for no apparent reason; physicians prescribed morphine with abandon. As predictable as it is in hindsight now, many became addicted. Women tended to suffer more than men, he explains, which is a similar trend today.

Education and a New Approach to Pain Management Helps Prevent New Addiction

As it happened in the 1800s, so it has happened again in the 21st century. That should mean the current opioid crisis can also fall into the annals of history with more lessons learned. Courtwright says one of the most important factors is the attitude of newly educated, graduated, and licensed medical professionals. What they know about that past can help prevent a drug crisis in the future.

That is what happened around the turn of the 20th century. Medical students observed the existing opioid crisis. They learned about new methods to manage pain, including what is now considered almost antiquated: ordinary aspirin. They put what they knew into their own practices, discarding the old, overmedicating ways as outdated and entirely behind their modern times.

Fewer opioids were prescribed. Fewer people became addicted to morphine as a result. The medical community turned their backs on doctors who ignored their role in creating morphine addicts. Eventually, 20 years later, the government passed legislation to help prevent over-prescribing.

Overcoming Prejudice Against Opioid Agonists Can Save Lives in Florida Drug Rehab

In 2017, two serious factors contribute to the opioid epidemic. Physicians have once again prescribed opioids, such as OxyContin, with abandon. As a result, they have contributed to more addicts in the population throughout Florida and the whole country. Physicians like Marty Makary, who writes for USA Today, agree. He even suggests that monitoring the prescribing habits of doctors can help identify the “outliers” who overprescribe.

The other issue is prejudice against something that is known to help: opioid agonists. Methadone and buprenorphine can help people quit when nothing else has worked for them. Unfortunately, says Courtwright, this prejudice against maintenance medications, even in residential care, does not just harm people who are already addicted. It also hurts addiction prevention efforts.

When the government is focused on iron-fisted crime prevention and the medical community will only discuss abstinence, people die. He says opioid agonists should be available. Because of so much resistance to what officials call “substitute addictions,” he says “It’s a mistake that has cost thousands of young lives.”

For people addicted to opioids in Florida, there is help and hope for recovery. Florida drug rehab offers many options from medically assisted detox, which is safer than going it alone, to residential care and aftercare. With so many therapies and opportunities, you can learn real-world skills for living without opioids for life and learn them in a healthy, safe environment where everyone is on your side.

If you or any of your loved ones are addicted to opioids or any other substance, there is no time to wait.
Contact us and learn how we can help today!

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