The world knows that Physician to the President Ronny Jackson is not qualified to lead the massive bureaucracy of Veterans Affairs.
That won’t be the topic of this editorial.
Jackson, who has just withdrawn his nomination, has been labeled the “Candy Man” by many of his current and former colleagues.
The doctor was known to hand out Ambien and Provigil (modafinil) to White House staffers while serving both Barack Obama and the Trump Administration.
Most Americans know what Ambien is (or have used it – Tiger I’m looking at you bro) but Provigil is a lesser known prescription that’s prescribed to narcoleptics – but in reality it promotes “wakefulness.”
Basically, Provigil is the secret little pill that turns the everyday worker into a titan of productivity without appearing to be a meth-head to his or her co-workers.
Despite what some pundits may say, it’s not an “upper” or amphetamine like Adderall and is likely safer than caffeine.
If you’ve ever wondered how executives seem to burn both ends of the candle while you’re dragging ass right after lunch, Provigil is probably the answer.
But again, the topic of this editorial isn’t Provigil.
On March 19th, while getting a bite in my morning room, I looked up at the screen on the wall to see President Trump boldly propose the “ultimate penalty” for drug dealers while standing in front of a blue banner that read, “Opioids: the Crisis Next Door.”
I’m pretty sure I slowly uttered, “W . . . T . . . F” in front of my family.
Yeah, Trump proposed the death penalty for “drug dealers” — that is lethal injection, electric chair, gas, hanging or firing squad (yes, three states still allow hanging and firing squads as a method of execution).
The announcement related to Opioids proves how ill-informed our president is.
Under Trump’s proposal – assuming the allegations regarding Percocet are true – Ronny Jackson should be headed to death row.
Jackson is accused of doling out a “large supply” of Percocet (a nice opioid) to a member of the White House Military Office staff.
That would make Jackson a drug dealer.
But Jackson is not alone.
In regards to the “Opioid Crisis” the vast majority of opioids that are abused are prescribed by doctors.
According for the Centers for Disease Control, for those who take opioids without a prescription, over 50% obtain them from friends or relatives for free.
Around 20% of opioids takers who have no prescription obtain the pills by exchanging money with a friend, relative or “drug dealer.”
But get this . . . the majority of those friends, relatives or drug dealers turn out to be America’s senior citizens.
While no statistics exist on the matter just yet (the government would rather have you think that an opioid seller looks like an MS-13 gang member than Granny Smithers up the road), there have been a significant number of arrests of senior citizens in recent years.
Last year in Tennessee a 74-year-old grandmother was arrested with 100 Oxycodone and cash.
In New York, 85-year-old Laura Viehdeffer was arrested for selling her arthritis meds and Archie Bethea, at a wise 91-years was arrested for selling his prescriptions on the street.
In Bladen County, North Carolina, a 75-year-old grandmother was arrested for peddling her scripts. Why did she do that? She had to pay her electricity bill.
In nearly all cases of seniors caught selling their pain pills, these men and women were simply attempting to supplement their income.
They weren’t saving up for a villa in Miami with a tiger in the front yard . . . they were attempting to keep food in their fridge or their heat on.
That’s the sad realization of the Opioid Crisis and Trump’s announcement that he wants to kill “drug dealers” shows how out of touch his counselors are.
There’s no equivocation, on March 19th, Trump announced that he wanted to kill our doctors and senior citizens . . . including his own physician.
I’ll say it again . . . W.T.F?
But let’s back up even further.
The Opioid Crisis is a crisis created by government.
I’ll throw in my own experience as an example.
Being a Marine veteran, I did my fair share of running while in the Corps and after.
Being a heavy-runner with the form of a drunk, silverback gorilla trying to run upright like a human, I managed to destroy my back and develop the joy of four herniated discs.
The cure according to various doctors? Surgery or deal with it until you can’t walk.
So a few times a year, I throw out my back and if I’m able to move without going into exorcist-like spasms that contort my spine, I hobble and wince into my doctor’s office and beg for pain pills like a blue-lipped crack head.
Until I found the right doctor, I was treated like a junkie. Like most men who know they’re men, I don’t whine or cry. I describe my situation and ask for the appropriate treatment – but that doesn’t work with most docs.
Despite being a professional family man with a nice home and a moral compass, when I walked into a some doctors, I was refused treatment and likely red-flagged by my reaction (which was going on a political tirade).
After years of dealing with pain, I sold out and modified my own behavior while in front of nurses and doctors. I learned how to put on a show – breathless speech, slow movements (which wasn’t hard) and lots of new facial expressions.
Until I figured out the best cure for back pain (Yoga – which I don’t recommend as it’s as painful as herniated discs and was created by Satan), that was my usual routine once or twice per year.
But I’ll honestly say this, had my condition became more consistent or more painful, I would not have hesitated to buy any medication I needed from a dealer.
The restrictions the government has put on pain-relieving medication is what has created this crisis.
Americans who sincerely need to pop a few Percocet to simply lift themselves out of bed have a right to that medication.
And when they don’t get it? They soon learn that opioids are way too expensive to buy from the black market and that the alternative, heroin, is the bargain alternative.
The solution to the Opioid Crisis isn’t restricting the medication or killing our doctors and the little old cat lady down the street, it’s easing restrictions on the drugs, and yes, even legalization.
I know, you’re saying “That’s f’ing crazy, Shane.”
In the case of opioids, it’s not crazy at all.
The opioids are relatively safe despite what the White House is telling us.
Of the nearly 18,000 overdoses that took place in 2015 involving opioids, 7,000 of those overdoses involved cocaine and another 9,000 involved benzos (Xanax, etc.).
There are no easily available federal statistics on the Opioid deaths that were combined with alcohol.
To overdose on a pill like Oxycodone, a first time user would have to take 16, 2.5 mg pills to get close to overdosing – but by that time, the 5,200 milligrams of acetaminophen in those pills would have the user convulsing and throwing up.
Acetaminophen is actually added to opioids so doctors can monitor abuse by checking liver function in patients – but it’s the culprit behind many opioid related deaths.
Over 56,000 Americans rush to the emergency room every year from acetaminophen/Tylenol overdoses.
But if we’re really talking about saving the lives of Americans by restricting access to drugs, then we would have to give Jack Daniels the chair.
An estimated 88,000 Americans a year die due to alcohol use – and you might as well tack on a few more thousand for those who combine opioids and alcohol.
Here’s something that Trump and his advisors may never understand . . . we have the right to destroy our own lives as long as we do no harm to others in the process.
If a person wants to abuse drugs or alcohol and doesn’t hurt others or steal that crap, that’s their choice and their life.
Liberty means giving us the freedom to succeed . . . and fail.
And if Granny Smithers needs to feed her cats and sells her bottle of pep to a consenting adult . . . then good for her.
As for the original topic of this editorial, hell, I already forgot his name after 1,400 words, but the dude was doing what any doctor in America should be free to do . . . and that’s helping people.