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Jack Sisson's Life Ethics Blog

We must find new ways through many ethical issues, especially regarding bioethics, medical ethics, and criminal justice. Jack Sisson's 'Life Ethics' blog focuses on numerous areas of concern, including the philosophical and ethical dilemmas surrounding stem-cell research, abortion, medical research, and health care.


From The Huffington Post:

Prescription drug abuse and addiction is prevalent in America yet it lurks in the shadows. We don't like to talk about it because of the stigma associated with it. But if you are still reading this, you probably know someone close to you it has affected. This is an issue that is near and dear to me and my family.

Both of my parents own pharmacies (my father's is in Attleboro, Mass., and mother's is in Plainville, Mass.). Both have had their share of robberies from persons suffering from drug addiction. In September 2010, there was a well publicized case of a 17-year-old boy found nearly comatose in the ceiling of Plainville Prescription Center. That is my mother's store, and it wasn't the first break-in she or my father has experienced.

A few weeks ago, an old friend recently succumbed to a long fight with mental illness and she intentionally overdosed on pain killers -- mental illness is a serious risk factor for drug abuse. Another person close to my family, who has long suffered from back pain, also became a victim to pain killers, which many people fall victim to. He is currently in residential rehab with the full support of his family. Prescription drug addiction affects men and women, young and old, employed and unemployed, and those suffering from mental illness and those who don't. In short, no group is immune.

While I have never even had so much as a drink of alcohol in my life, (it may be hard to believe but it's true) before you question the type of people I surround myself with, facts are important and sometimes a wake-up call to the judgmental. Consider that in 2007, nearly 28,000 Americans died from unintentional drug poisoning, and of these, nearly 12,000 involved prescription pain relievers. Prescription drug abuse surged 400 percent from 2000-2010.

Drug addiction is a problem that can originate with chronic mental illness or legitimate physical or psychological pain. Drug addiction is a medical issue, not a moral one. Drug dealing, however, is a different issue, and to be clear, a serious crime. Some people think abuse or addiction are moral issues, some a criminal issue and others a medical issue. There is a difference between use, abuse, and addiction.
Illegal drug use and non-addictive abuse are cheap thrills for your brain's dopamine receptors (think of dopamine as the neurotransmitter in your brain that allows you to experience pleasure; without it, no pleasure). However, when abuse becomes addiction, we are talking about a physically altered brain. The brain becomes incapable of producing dopamine, or the pleasure receptors in the brain become incapable of receiving enough dopamine. The only way for some individuals to feel any pleasure, or no pain, is through excessive use of drugs. While drug experimentation may be a moral issue or an issue of poor judgement, drug addiction is more than a moral issue. In fact, I would not describe it as a moral issue at all. It becomes a physical one and one that is the equivalent of a hawk sinking its talons into prey.
Addiction is not something that someone can just snap out of.
One recent study found that over two-thirds of people who who used illicit drugs for the first time in one recent year began by using prescription drugs medically. In 2009, the number of first-time, non-medical users of psychotherapeutics (prescription opioid pain relievers, tranquilizers, sedatives, and stimulants) was about the same as the number of first-time marijuana users. Prescription drugs are the second-most abused category of drugs in the United States, following marijuana, which usually has much less serious consequences than prescription drug abuse and dependence.

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Yes, its a medical condition where mind addicts and habitual for the substances but simultaneously we could not avoid the moral loss of support. If caring and support is provided, an addicted person could be saved.

Brad Evarts LLC
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