Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Drugs, the US solution for all the pain

By: Daniel Becker


Just a little something that came across my desk. As you read it, think about the concept: War on Drugs.
“In the United States, the therapeutic use of opioids has exploded as witnessed by the increased sales of hydrocodone by 280% from 1997 to 2007, while at the same time methadone usage increased 1,293% and oxycodone increased 866% (5). In addition, the estimated number of prescriptions filled for controlled substances increased from 222 million in 1994 to 354 million in 2003 (5). Consequently, the milligram per person use of therapeutic opioids in the United States increased from 73.59 milligrams in 1997 to 329.23 milligrams in 2006, an increase of 347% (5). And, while hydrocodone is the most commonly used opioid in the United States, based on milligrams per person, oxycodone is the most commonly used drug with methadone use rapidly increasing the most… Consequently, Americans, constituting only 4.6% of the world’s population, have been consuming 80% of the global opioid supply, and 99% of the global hydrocodone supply, as well as two-thirds of the world’s illegal drugs (4-6,26-29).”
Read the whole study. There is a lot of info regarding the particular drugs. For instance, one researcher found that they had no effect on one’s ability to drive. Though another found there were cognitive issues. So, are they or are they not getting high?
I have all sorts of thoughts about it. Depression is highly associated with pain. That is, more pain is reported as depression is experienced and more depression is reported as pain is experienced. Emotional pain? Physical Pain? Are doctors just becoming more comfortable with such prescription practices, thus a kind of “heard” mentality? I mean, once you put them into happy land drug wise, there’s nothing left to do. Next patient please.

What does it say about our population? Our character? Our solutions we propose for all sorts of social issues? I don’t think it says much for the results we can expect if the increasing solution is to alter the brain chemistry. Can you say “framing”. Yes, I knew you could. Can’t imagine we have the character any more that produced things like the Hoover Dam (on time and budget with wealth creating benefit for all) which makes me cautious regarding any proposed “green economy” projects like a national high speed rail system. Was “hope” the drug for 2008?
Consumer confidence has been going steadily down since year 2000.  And here.    Consumer confidence is the highest in 3 years say the reports. Big whoop! Set the date for 1967. You’ll see we have managed to rise to the level of the bottoming for all the other recessions.   That’s a lot of pain…or depression. And, for a long time now. We are not kidding when we say “the good old day”. But then I’m told that the reason there seemed to be more snow when I was young is because I was shorter. It’s all relative.
There is real, as in non-virtual, pain increases being reported:

“Chronic pain’s prevalence and associated disability continue to increase. Harkness et al (181), in a 2000 publication, showed that there was a large difference in the prevalence of musculoskeletal pain over a 40- year period under investigation. The results showed that overall, the prevalence of low back pain increased from 8.1% in males to 17.8%, and in females, it increased from 9.1% to 18.2%. Similarly, Freburger et al (182) reported the rising prevalence of chronic low back pain following an evaluation of North Carolina (U.S.) households conducted in 1992 and repeated in 2006. The results showed a 162% increase in the prevalence of chronic impairing low back pain over the 14-year interval, going from 3.9% in 1992 to 10.2% in 2006 and an annual average increase of 11.6% associated with care-seeking and disability.”

I prescribe the “cold turkey” therapy in all it’s applications.   There was even a movie about it:

Reverend Brooks leads the town in a contest to stop smoking for a month, But some tobacco executives don’t want them to win, and try everything they can to make them smoke. If townspeople don’t go nuts, from wanting a cigarette, or kill each other from irritation and frustration, they will will a huge prize.

Oh the pain, the pain.
All I can say, is the war is in your head man.


Knzn gives new definition to "infrastructure"

For those who don’t want to try to read about John McCain’s 2 – 1 = 7 calculations, a couple of interesting links.

It’s missing the appropriate equations, so I suspect a few of the simplifying assumptions are skewed, and he doesn’t mention that the industry in question has always been at the forefront of new-technology which enabled it to reap this benefit, but the Substitution Effect discussed here is almost as interesting as the heroin/Kalishnikov exchange rate.