Op-Ed: Don’t let Adderall scarcity trigger a repeat of the opioid epidemic
We need more solutions that prevent addiction, not just more prescriptions
AUGUST 8, 2018
By: Michael Smith, DVM
AUGUST 8, 2018
Recently, I had a chance to talk with Dr. Michael Smith, a board certified veterinarian in the animal and human health sciences. Dr. Smith spoke with me about what he saw as a problem with prescriptions and their misuse, and what he thinks we can do about it.
Dr. Smith is the director of the animal health sciences program at the University of Minnesota. He is also the president of the American Veterinary Medical Association Veterinary Medical Society, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association Board of Veterinarians, and the only board certified veterinarian of the Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association.
Dr. Smith is a former national president of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists, and a former assistant professor in the animal health sciences at the University of Minnesota. He is also a graduate of both the University of Nebraska and the University of Minnesota.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
How did opioid use evolve into an epidemic?
I’m glad you asked. Because my answer is going to be, “You know, you talk to any veterinarian, and they will tell you that the first thing that you hear when you get into a clinic is the story of how the current epidemic started.” This is an epidemic that has been going on for decades, it started with prescription drugs. As a nation, we’ve been used to having a lot of drugs that are used every day, but not being able to get them. There is some amount of regulation, but not much regulation.
So what happened was that the federal government decided that it would regulate the drug, and they decided to do it, but they didn’t really know what to do with it, so they passed the Controlled Substances Act in 1970 that prohibited any and all production, manufacture, distribution, and possession of marijuana. And, of course, there wasn’t anybody in America that was able to grow marijuana; nobody grown it.
This didn’t last long, because people realized that this was not going to be a good solution.
People were using it for recreation, and it started in the 70’s, so it was an unintended consequence of