Opioid Crisis Leaves 700,000 Americans Dead


National Institute on Drug Abuse website states:

Opioids are a class of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and pain relievers available legally by prescription, such as oxycodone (OxyContin®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), codeine, morphine, and many others. … All opioids are chemically related and interact with opioid receptors on nerve cells in the body and brain. Opioid pain relievers are generally safe when taken for a short time and as prescribed by a doctor, but because they produce euphoria in addition to pain relief, they can be misused (taken in a different way or in a larger quantity than prescribed, or taken without a doctor’s prescription). Regular use—even as prescribed by a doctor—can lead to dependence and, when misused, opioid pain relievers can lead to addiction, overdose incidents, and deaths. https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids

Despite claims that they are safe while taken for a short period of time, there are many problems associated with them. Opioids are a major problem for the USA and other lands.

The opioid crisis has affected more and more:

Opioid Crisis Leaves 700,000 Americans Dead: “Epidemic Continues To Worsen And Evolve”

December 29, 2018

More than 700,000 Americans died from drug overdoses from 1999 to 2017, about 10% of them in 2017 alone, according to a new report published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In total, there were a staggering 70,237 drug overdose deaths last year, which is more deaths than all US military fatal casualties of the Vietnam War. Opioids were involved in 67.8%, or 47,600 of those deaths. Of those opioid-related overdose deaths, 59.8% of them, or 28,466, were due to synthetic opioids.

The report, which was published online in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), also examined drug overdose deaths from 2013-17. During that time, “drug overdose death rates increased in 35 of 50 states and DC, and significant increases in death rates involving synthetic opioids occurred in 15 of 20 states,” the report said adding that the rapid increase was driven by fentanyl.

Of the 35 districts reporting data, 23 states and DC noticed increased rates of death directly linked to synthetic opioids. Fentanyl overdose deaths surged 150% from 2016 to 2017.

In prior reports, synthetic opioid-related deaths primarily occurred east of the Mississippi River. The latest CDC data now shows 8 states west of the Mississippi had significant increases in such deaths: Arizona, California, Colorado, Minnesota, Missouri, Oregon, Texas, and Washington. …

In a separate, but relevant report, Altarum, an Ann Arbor, Michigan-based health care research and consulting firm said the opioid epidemic’s economic toll is disastrous. The report said, “the societal benefit of eliminating opioid overdoses, death and use disorders reached $115 billion in 2017, up from $95.3 billion for 2016.”

The total exceeds $1 trillion when the costs from 2001 to 2017 are compiled. Another $500 billion is expected to be added to this sum by 2020. Lost earnings and waning productivity account for much of these costs and also result in declining tax dollars collected. 

Altarum estimated direct health care costs totaled $12.2 billion in 2016. Indirect health care costs totaled an estimated $9.2 billion. https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-12-29/opioid-crisis-epidemic-continues-worsen-and-evolve-700000-americans-dead

So, it is not just ‘natural source’ opioids that are a problem. Many areas of the USA have been affected:

It is not just in the USA, other lands, including the UK have problems ass well. The UK Guardian ran a headline this year: see Prescription of opioid drugs continues to rise in England. So, the UK has a big problem with opioid addiction too.

Before going further, notice the following scripture:

7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. (Galatians 6:7)

In the case of the UK, in the 19th century in the Opium wars, it forced the Chinese to import and legalize opium against Chinese wishes. Now, the UK has a growing problem with opioids.

Pharmaceutical company greed and medical profession acquiescence look to be part of the cause:

No health topic has made more news in this country over the last two decades than the opioid crisis, with heart-rending journalism and a handful of comprehensive books. Barry Meier’s 2003 “Pain Killer” was the first to probe the deceptive advertising pushing the addictive prescription opioid OxyContin into the American market. Sam Quinones’s compulsively readable “Dreamland” linked the popularity of OxyContin to an exploding nationwide traffic in a cheaper alternative, potent Mexican heroin. Beth Macy’s recent “Dopesick” outlined the synergistic destruction that legal and illegal narcotics wreak on users and their communities.

These authors all covered a similar territory of clueless doctors, rapacious drug sales forces (both the corporate and the criminal varieties), hurting patients and their frantic friends and relatives. …

Dr. Anna Lembke’s small but powerful “Drug Dealer, MD” summarizes other seldom-enunciated reasons doctors became complicit. A specialist at Stanford in addiction medicine, Lembke delivers a bottom line as bizarre as it is true: Most doctors hate and fear dealing with pain, and are utterly unequipped to do so. …

What about the part played by pharmaceutical companies in this crisis? Was Purdue Pharma, manufacturer of OxyContin, an aberration in its misleading promotion of the drug, with assertions that ultimately resulted in $600 million in fines and penalties? Or is this just how Big Pharma always operates, dodging the law and relevant moral principles in single-minded pursuit of Big Profit?

Back in 2004, Dr. Marcia Angell, a former editor of The New England Journal of Medicine, wrote in “The Truth About Drug Companies” that the pharmaceutical industry “has moved very far from its original high purpose of discovering and producing useful new drugs.” Her book presents instead a vision of an industry motivated largely by greed. Pretty much every specific outrage critics have identified in Purdue’s behavior appears in Angell’s analysis, including the “jaw-dropping” gifts doctors may receive for prescribing a company’s drugs, the subtle advertisement masquerading as education and the lukewarm, often ineffective protestations by regulatory agencies. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/17/books/review/opioid-abuse-drug-dealer-anna-lembke.html

Perhaps it should be mentioned that opioids have not been found to be particularly effective for their most commonly medically prescribed use:

Do opioids help patients with chronic pain in the long run? Are they worth all that risk?

The answer, according to her newly published JAMA study, is a resounding “no.”

Krebs is the lead author on the first randomized trial, comparing chronic pain patients on prescription opioids (like morphine, hydrocodone, and oxycodone) to patients on non-opioid painkillers (like acetaminophen or Tylenol, naproxen, or meloxicam), measuring their pain intensity and function over the course of a year.

The striking result was that the patients on opioids did no better than those taking the opioid alternatives — despite the much higher risk profile of opioids. At one year, the opioid takers even reported being in slightly more pain compared to the non-opioid group. …

“It’s not just that opioids were not better — they were a little bit worse,” Chou said.

“Opioids aren’t better than non-opioid medications,” Krebs summed up, “and we already knew from other research they are far more risky — and that the risk of death and addiction is serious.” https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2018/3/6/17082590/opioids-tylenol-chronic-pain-study

In addition to addiction, notice something else about the opioid problem:

Hepatitis C: The public-health worry lurking behind the opioid epidemic

July 24, 2017

The national hepatitis C transmission rate among IV-drug users increased by 350 percent from 2011 to 2014, the most recent figures from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services show.

The state Department of Health Services reports that opioid overdoses killed more than two Arizonans a day last year, with heroin causing almost half of those. Gov. Doug Ducey declared a public-health emergency June 5.

The opioid crisis and the increase of hepatitis C bring to mind the following prophecy:

15 However, if you do not obey the Lord your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come on you and overtake you: …

20 The Lord will send on you curses, confusion and rebuke in everything you put your hand to, until you are destroyed and come to sudden ruin because of the evil you have done in forsaking him. 21 The Lord will plague you with diseases until he has destroyed you from the land you are entering to possess. (Deuteronomy 28:15,20-21, NIV)

The USA certainly does not obey God’s commands, but it should (see also The Ten Commandments: The Decalogue, Christianity, and the Beast).

Back in 1976, the old Worldwide Church of God published the following:

Psychoactive Drugs

Technically speaking, a drug is any substance (other than food) that by its chemical nature affects the structure or function of a living organism.

Doctors usually refer to a drug in terms of its ability to treat physical and mental diseases. They stress the therapeutic value. But many laymen now focus on the negative connotations of the word. For them, “drug” has become a four-letter word of the worst kind, an epithet, an obscenity. When used in conversation it provokes strong emotional reactions. It’s a good word to start an argument with, or even a fight.

Medicine and Menace

You encounter a lot of this when discussing drugs. They can relieve pain, prevent infection and save lives. That’s good! But they can also destroy bodily tissue, impair healthy bodily metabolism, enslave by addiction and ultimately kill. That’s bad!

The drug problem would be greatly simplified if drugs were not ambivalent, if they were very selective in their effects. If only drug X eased pain, but was not addicting, if only drug Y helped people relax but didn’t adversely affect the brain or the liver.

But drugs don’t work that way. Rather, their effects are varied and often ambivalent — they have the potential to simultaneously hurt or harm, depending on a number of variables. Because any drug can play both the role of medicine or health menace, any description of its effects is bound to sound like a “that’s-good, that’s-bad” routine.

Morphine presents a good example of a “that’s-good, that’s — bad” story. It came into widespread use as a pain-killer during the American Civil War (1861-65). So effective was it as an analgesic for wounds and amputations that physicians sometimes referred to it as “G.O.M.” — “God’s own medicine.”

That’s good!

But in time morphine was found to be addicting — prolonged use followed by abstinence led to agonizing withdrawal symptoms. “God’s own medicine” turned out to be “the Devil’s own misery.” Hundreds, if not thousands (accurate statistics are hard to come by), of war veterans inadvertently became drug addicts.

That’s bad!

But that’s the nature of opiates. And it illustrates a fundamental principle of pharmacology: any drug can be dangerous depending on the dosage, the duration of use, its purity and many other factors. No drug is completely “safe.”

Recognizing this, the Federal government under the Controlled Substances Act regulates drugs according to their potential for abuse. The drugs are listed in five schedules in descending order of proven abuse potential and current medical usage.

Schedule I lists drugs deemed to have great abuse potential and no legitimate medical use. The score or so drugs on this list include heroin, LSD, mescaline, psilocybin and marijuana.

Schedule II lists drugs with great abuse potential that have legitimate medical uses. Drugs in this list can come under production quotas, and telephone and refillable prescriptions are prohibited. The psychoactive drugs listed here include the opiates such as morphine and synthetic opiates such as methadone and Demeral, certain barbiturates of the short-acting type, methaqualone and amphetamines. Altogether over 1300 drug preparations are listed!

Schedules III, IV and V list drugs with correspondingly less proven abuse potential. The widely used tranquilizers Librium and Valium are in Schedule IV — a classification the manufacturers have protested. Altogether over 3600 drug preparations are covered by these three schedules.

The list is not static. On the basis of new evidence and accumulated experience, drugs are often being added to the list. And drugs already listed are sometimes moved to higher schedules, indicating greater proven abuse potential.

The dual nature of drugs guarantees that the debate over their benefits versus hazards will continue for some time. (Graunke DP. The Dilemma of Drugs. Worldwide Church of God, 1976)

Since that came out in 1976, the opioid crisis has worsened.

The reality is that many have physical and spiritual pain and they reach out to drugs for relief. This tends to be addictive.

While the USA is facing an opioid epidemic that it is hoping to fight, it is in the process of increasing its marijuana epidemic, which more and more US states are encouraging.

18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18)

21 For the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty (Proverbs 23:21)

Notice something the Apostle Paul was inspired to write:

19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

Getting stoned with marijuana or opioids is harmful to the body and is not glorifying God.

Mind altering drugs are not the answer.

Truly repenting and turning to the true Jesus and the coming Kingdom of God are.

As far as physical pain goes, let me close by saying that frequently, the cause is something in someone’s diet. Now, while not all are bothered by substances such as caffeine and bovine dairy, some are, and that is something that the medical field rarely diagnoses. There is no money for the pharmaceutical companies when the cause of discomfort is avoiding some substance.

Anyway, the drug situation in the USA is weakening the nation, and it shows no signs of truly changing that for the better.

Pray for God’s kingdom to come.

Some items of possibly related interest may include the following:

The Ten Commandments: The Decalogue, Christianity, and the Beast This is a free draft/unedited pdf book explaining the what the Ten Commandments are, where they came from, how early professors of Christ viewed them, and how various ones, including the Beast of Revelation, will oppose them. A related sermon is titled: The Ten Commandments and the Beast of Revelation.
Marijuana: Should a Christian Get High? There is increasing acceptance of the use of marijuana. How should Christians view this? Here is a related video titled How Should a Christian View Marijuana?
Alcohol: Blessing or Curse? This is an article from the old Good News magazine that attempts to answer this question.
Binge Drinking, Health, and the Bible Many college students and others overindulge in alcohol. Are there health risks? What does the Bible teach? A related video is also available: Binge Drinking and the Bible.
How to Overcome Depression and Discouragement This is an article by Paul Krautmann & John Siston.
Should Christians Smoke Tobacco or Marijuana? Is smoking a sin? What does the Bible teach? What have COG leaders written? Can smokers change? What about marijuana?
Why Were You Born? Why did God make you? Herbert W. Armstrong wrote this as a booklet on this important subject. You may also wish to read the article What is Your Destiny? or watch the video, also titled What is Your Destiny?
Building Character: Going on to Perfection Once you have accepted Jesus, do you need to strive for perfection and build character? A related video sermon is available:
Going on to perfection and building character.
What is the Meaning of Life? Who does God say is happy? What is your ultimate destiny? Do you really know? Does God actually have a plan for YOU personally? If you would like to watch videos covering subjects of this article, you can click on the following links: Why YOU? Why Do YOU Suffer? and What is the meaning of your life?

Real Conversion Many think that they are converted Christians. But are they? Would you like to know more about conversion?
False Conversion! Have you really been converted? Herbert W. Armstrong wrote an article on this important subject–but more scriptures have been added to it. How can you tell false conversion? A related video is also available: False Conversion.

Is God Calling You? This booklet discusses topics including calling, election, and selection. If God is calling you, how will you respond? Here is a link to a related sermon: Could God be Calling You?
Christian Repentance Do you know what repentance is? Is it really necessary for salvation? A related sermon is also available titled: Real Christian Repentance.
Just What Do You Mean — Repentance? Do you know what repentance is? Have you truly repented? Repented of what? Herbert W. Armstrong wrote this as a booklet on this important subject.

The Gospel of the Kingdom of God This free online pdf booklet has answers many questions people have about the Gospel of the Kingdom of God and explains why it is the solution to the issues the world is facing. Here are links to three related sermons: The World’s False Gospel, The Gospel of the Kingdom: From the New and Old Testaments, and The Kingdom of God is the Solution.
USA in Prophecy: The Strongest Fortresses Can you point to scriptures, like Daniel 11:39, that point to the USA in the 21st century? This article does. A related sermon is titled: Do these 7 prophesies point to the end of the USA?
Canada in Prophecy: What Does Bible Prophecy, Catholic Prophecy, and other Predictions Suggest About the Future of Canada? There are prophecies that suggest involvement with Canada. And many are not positive about its future.
Who is the King of the West? Why is there no Final End-Time King of the West in Bible Prophecy? Is the United States the King of the West? Here is a version in the Spanish language: ¿Quién es el Rey del Occidente? ¿Por qué no hay un Rey del Occidente en la profecía del tiempo del fin?
When Will the Great Tribulation Begin? 2017, 2018, or 2019? Can the Great Tribulation begin today? What happens before the Great Tribulation in the “beginning of sorrows”? What happens in the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord? Is this the time of the Gentiles? When is the earliest that the Great Tribulation can begin? What is the Day of the Lord? Who are the 144,000? Here is a version of the article in the Spanish language: ¿Puede comenzar la Gran Tribulación en 2016 o 2017? ¿Es el Tiempo de los Gentiles? You can also see the English language sermon videos: The Great Tribulation from the Mount of Olives and Can the Great Tribulation begin before 2020? A shorter video is: Will the Great Tribulation Start in 2017?

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