All errors should be reported to

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Magic won't solve the opioid problem

The Opioid War begun by Big Pharma has ravaged West Virginia. The state's politicians are desperate to try anything that will work, except jail, which does work.

And so we have this needle exchange program.

Health Right, an actual charity, has run one with success for years.

The government tried one and it was a disaster. As a small-government American, I should be amused but we are talking about a lot of pain and human misery.

Danny Jones, the mayor of Charleston, gave a pretty good interview to WUNC (University of North Carolina) about it.

"We have two needle exchanges in Charleston. One is operated by Health Right, and they have 150 patients. And it’s operated in a fashion that is correct. And they did so well, they operated under the radar. We didn’t even know they were doing it. Then the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department got in the business, and they just basically became a mill. And they were giving out 40,000 to 50,000 needles in a month. Now, if you go to 400 patients in one day, then there’s no way you can check their blood before you give them the needles to find out if they have any disease before you give them the needles," Jones said.

The government program became a magnet for drug abusers.

"They came from 190 different ZIP codes, and we became a hub of activity. Now to get the money to buy the drugs, the drug users have to break into somebody’s car or cause crimes. Since we became a mecca for these folks, it wasn’t a needle exchange. It was a needle mill. And crime in this city skyrocketed," Jones said.

Not only does it cause crime, but now there is an outbreak of Hepatitis A at area restaurants. Maybe the health department should stick to its mission of restaurant inspections.

So what does work?


Jones did not come out and say it.

Jones may even say I am taking his words out of context.

But Jones knows that the fear of going to prison changes people's habits.

There is his one adult son who abused drugs.

"He stopped because he kept going to jail. I had him arrested twice. I have 160 police officers that work for me. The last time, though, it wasn’t police in this county. It was police in another county. This is the third time he’s been in front of a judge to plead guilty. But he’s in recovery now and he is, as I understand, he’s doing OK. He’s 28 years old. But you reach a point as a father of an addict, you can’t let your whole world become a set of dominoes because you have a son. Life goes on for all of us. And I’ll tell you: Jail saved his life, which is sad," Jones said.

Politicians won't say it, but when we had draconian drug laws we had a much smaller drug problem.

But the laws have to be applied to mayors and their sons. So you can see why politicians would prefer magic solutions.


  1. The needles become a form of barter currency. In a lot of places having needles without a prescription is a criminal offense and they are hard to come by. An addict can pick up a hit or two just by exchanging for some clean needles sometimes.

    Needle exchanges or giveaways are basically a decriminalization that only makes things worse.

    Where you treasure is there will your heart be also. And when you find someone to like you share your treasure. So when these people want to endear themselves to others, what do they do? They share their drugs. That's why you find families getting high together. Why girlfriend and boyfriend are often arrested together.

    Like any other sin, the sinner tries to infect others with it. It is part of human nature. One that psychiatrists and public health officials ignore. And one that physicians have to ignore in order to maintain that stupid license that we should be getting rid of.

    1. Doc, I keep asking you: what would replace the license?

      How would we lay-persons know which Doctor was good, and which, bad?

      And, without licensed physicians, where would the prescription, making possession of syringes legal come from? What authority should issue prescriptions?

      As a diabetic, I use - and destroy, two syringes a day.

      I very much applaud your - may I call it 'libertarian' - view on this, but the I, nor the public in general, are in no position that I can see, to pick a Doctor without SOME sort of licensing plan.

      My doctor is employed by a large HMO: would the HMO be licensed, and the HMO's imprimatur be sufficient in lieu of a licensed doctor?

      Please enlighten us - or at least me.

      My inquiring mind wants to know.

      Thank you, -Erik

    2. Psychiatrists dont ignore this problem, they see it as competition.
      Psychiatrists are the biggest drug dealers on the planet

    3. Erik: please read Milton Friedman Capitalism and Freedom chap 9.

      Licensing tells you nothing about qualifications or training. Just about everyone who passes school and takes the test passes.

      Without government licensing it would be the obligation of the practitioner and his medical school to inform you as to his educational status. You would be able to check these independently online.

      Specialty boards are already not under any government supervision. I don't have a government license to practice my specialty. If we ever do need those, I can guarantee you that the quality of specialty practice will be in decline.

    4. Ok, so it would be the School's imprimatur which would count.

      Thank you; appreciated.


    5. As far as the syringes go, there might be local and industry controls over who they were sold to. When I talked about people having syringes illegally, I was talking about the way things are, not the way I want them to be. You can make possession of certain items illegal under certain circumstances without licensing.

      Docs wrote prescriptions long before licensing existed.

      You could have a law whereby possession of needles and syringes requires a letter from a doctor that graduated from an existing medical school, for example.

      It would be up to states and localities to decide. As above, they already do.

      The problem with leaving things as they are is that are in an unending spiral of complexity and expense that will end up with a situation worse than you can imagine without dropping licensing.

    6. "Docs wrote prescriptions long before licensing existed."

      And anyone calling himself a "Doc" back then could probably write his own prescription.

      I have an old book "Mackenzie's 5000 Receipts....." from 1835 (You, T.P. Doc, probably know of it - reprints available on Amazon)

      Some of the medications & procedures in that, would scare anyone.

      But now we know better and a degree from SOME schools would be a bout as good as anything.

      Friedman's book on order, thanks again,


  2. I agree with jail time, as it is both a punishment and a treatment. I don't agree with paramedics responding multiple times to administer Narcan. If someone knows their behavior may result in death, they take their chances. - Elric

    1. Worked with homeless for many years. They could go to jail and come out “clean”. Then the pull of addiction or the pull of friends would eventually have them addicted again. I cannot imagine the pull of addiction. That said -
      Jail Time for anyone dealing. Jail time for anyone over prescribing.

      I am a volunteer fire fighter and we respond to 911 calls because we may get there 30 minutes before the EMT (very rural, sparsely populated area).

      We have narcan. Our department Has not had to use it yet. No Matter what I feel, there is no way I would not save someone’s life if I had the ability to.

  3. David Crosby said that getting arrested was the best thing that every happened to him. He said it was the only thing that got him off drugs.