29Oct17 Whose Fault is the Drug Epidemic Anyway?

We are a society that likes to place blame. It’s not my fault, don’t blame me. So who do we think is to blame for the drug epidemic currently plaguing our country? Is it the addict? The drug dealer? Is it the doctor who prescribes too many narcotics? Maybe all of the above. It seems states are now taking aim at the drug companies that market these dangerous drugs while at the same time downplaying their addictive properties. Ohio, Illinois, Mississippi, New York, Washington, California and the Cherokee Nation have all filed suit against big pharma companies like Purdue Pharma, Teva Pharmaceuticals, and Johnson & Johnson.

Remember the lawsuits against the tobacco companies in the 90’s? They were successful. Why not try again? Who should pay the astronomical costs associated with this epidemic? Let’s hold those who make and distribute these drugs accountable for at least some of this epidemic. Sounds reasonable right? Maybe, maybe not. Either way, lawsuits such as these may force companies that make these drugs review their practices surrounding their marketing. Lawsuits, if they are successful, will undoubtedly have companies that deal with dangerous narcotics change their practices so that their addictive properties are better known. There’s a lot of money tied up in these drugs and the companies that distribute them will not change easily. Are tobacco products safer after the lawsuits? Or do they just help pay for the results of their deadly product? Will holding companies that make and market narcotics accountable help decrease the problems associated with addiction? I doubt that it will, but maybe if the amount they have to pay out in lawsuits puts a large dent in their profits, maybe they will find better ways of dealing these drugs.

There, of course, is no easy answer on who to blame. Truth be told, many of us have a part to play in the epidemic. Who do I blame for my addiction? Mostly me. I take responsibility for the drugs I took, for the pain I caused, and the laws I broke. I will not stay long in recovery by blaming others. But, as a country, we also need to take some responsibility. We need tighter controls on the distribution of these dangerous drugs. Big pharma, prescribers, drug dealers, addicts – we are all to blame. Let’s take responsibility for our piece, so we can find a solution that works.



About the Author

Kristin Waite-Labott is a registered nurse and recovering addict who has firsthand experience with the challenges of addiction. She now works as the Head Nurse Coach at Veritus, a virtual treatment program for nurses with substance use and mental health disorders, and is dedicated to helping nurses overcome addiction and making a difference in the lives of others. Kristin is passionate about addressing the growing problem of addiction among healthcare professionals and encourages open discussions and action to prevent it from spreading further.

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