I note with interest the Washington Post editorial concerning the increased incidence of heroin addiction and overdose deaths (Off the wire, 8-22).
The Post advocates the further restriction of prescription opioids to reduce the exposure of people to the risk of developing addiction to them. As a registered nurse practicing for more than 40 years, I have some thoughts and observations concerning the multiple issues involved.
Increasing restrictions on prescription opioids increases their street value, leading poorer people to turn to heroin. Buying heroin on the street is buying stuff that may or may not be heroin, may have multiple unknown additives, or even include fatal amounts of other drugs such as fentanyl.
People who take on these kinds of risks are likely to have multiple issues that bring them to such a point. Our societal ambivalence toward pain, pain control and drugs further complicates the predicament.
Perhaps decriminalization of drug use, access to uniformly manufactured medications, and more open doors to treatment of addiction and mental health issues would be a better path. Our current attempts to deal with these issues seem to complicate the lives of those who have stumbled into addiction and support international drug trade.
Richard S. Trombley