Opioid battle and unintended consequences

Opioid crisis is out of hand

Leonardtown, MD - "Many opioids are prescribed for legitimate pain issues and when used properly provide essential relief to those suffering from short and long-term pain," reads a disclaimer written in the Opioid Crisis Response Plan developed by the St. Mary's County Health Department.

Meenakshi BrewsterDr. Meenakshi Brewster(pictured), director of the County Board of Health, briefed the St. Mary's County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC)  recently of her findings on opioid-related usage, and deaths caused by overdosing. It was a truly staggering report. In 2017 alone there were seven opioid-related deaths. 

Click here to see full crisis response plan.  

The magnitude of this crisis is nationwide, and the plan which the Health Department has developed to combat the plague in our communities is thorough and extremely well thought through.

Dr. Brewster also  reported findings of a survey taken of 2,800 high school students and the results were shocking. Over one-third of students polled said they felt sad and hopeless. A slightly smaller percentage had considered suicide and about 10 percent had actually created a suicide plan.

Is there a connection here to the use of opioids? 

An important point was made as the commissioners questioned Dr. Brewster, who said that for budget purposes the Health Department, although partnered with many organizations, did not receive formal inputs from the St. Mary's County Board of Education and law enforcement. The interoperability between the databases of these three agencies could be codified by the BOCC, enabling a stronger team and appropriation of adequate resources to take the fight against this cruel epidemic to new levels of awareness by all. Parents and teachers are also key to helping identify those at risk.

At the lead of this article is a disclaimer. While the fight against the crisis is of paramount importance, rules, regulations and policies being adopted by pharmacies are having the "unintended" consequences of hurting those individuals who need the medication to be pain-free. One must assume that 99 percent of physicians who generate prescriptions for narcotic pain relief know their patients needs. "Freedom from terrible pain" - The physical therapists see this first hand. Pharmacists have taken on new roles as many see themselves as gatekeepers, some of the large chains refuse to fill legitimate prescriptions.

We have many issues that threaten our way of life, along with the removal of basic freedoms, our complete lack of privacy in the digital age, a generation of kids who watch the news around the country and the world, or they are bullied across the platforms of social media - what bright lights in their future do they see?

Conspiracy theorists would suggest that the way to dismantle the republic is to flood the country with devastating killer drugs---a crazy idea.

The reality is that the folks on the front line, Doctors, Caregivers, Pharmacists  Parents, Teachers, Law Enforcement and all of us need to heighten our awareness and work together to to strengthen our communities and inspire our children and grandchildren - that the future is not as bleak as it appears.

Contact Martin Fairclough at

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