The American opioid addiction epidemic has put a serious burden on society, both the human and financial costs of the crisis are staggering. It is widely agreed upon that the best shot of gaining control of the scourge of opioid abuse in America is by way of education and addiction treatment. If health experts can properly educate people about the dangers of experimenting with opioids, fewer people may follow down the road towards addiction. For those who have already become snared by addiction, science-based treatment is the most effective way to throw a monkey wrench into the gear-works of the disease.
In recent years, federal and state lawmakers have been scrambling to provide and fund adequate addiction treatment services. In many states, people often wait long periods of time to get a bed at a treatment center. There is a serious lack of treatment facilities, counselors and funding to pay for both. If you consider for a moment that there are over 2 million Americans who meet the criteria for opioid use disorder, then you can see that it will cost a considerable amount of money to ensure that they all get the treatment they need, but may not be able to afford.
When looking for the root causes of the opioid addiction epidemic, fingers will point towards over reliance on prescription opioid painkiller—more times than not. While efforts to reign in prescribing practices have been successful in a number of ways, the problem didn’t disappear because individual addiction was not addressed. Making it more difficult to acquire prescription opioids often results in turning to heroin as an alternative means of avoiding withdrawal.
So, if we can agree for the moment that treatment is the answer, then finding the necessary funds to provide it is of the utmost importance. Look no further than opioid wholesalers to finance the vital cause. Or, that is what one California lawmaker has suggested. Assemblyman Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) introduced a bill that would impose a one-cent-per-milligram tax on opioid painkillers sold statewide, The Los Angeles Times reports. According to KTLA, “The tax would be imposed on wholesalers who import the medication into the state, not at the point of sale, and it would require a two-thirds approval vote in the Legislature.” The companies making money on the drugs people are becoming addicted to would, in effect, pay for the treatment those patients now require.
The prescription opioid business is a multi-billion-dollar industry. While the drugs do effectively treat pain as advertised, they also carry a serious risk of addiction. It is hard to argue against the pharmaceutical industry covering some of the costs of treatment in America.
“California’s opioid epidemic has cost state taxpayers millions and the lives of too many of our sons and daughters,” McCarty said in a statement. “We must do more to help these individuals find hope and sobriety. This plan will provide counties with critical resources needed to curb the deadly cycle of opioid and heroin addiction in California.”