Abusive Treatment: Drug Prohibition and the Erosion of the Doctor/Patient Relationship

Points: The Blog of the Alcohol & Drugs History Society

In her third guest post for Points, pain relief activist Siobhan Reynolds traces the unraveling of the doctor-(pain)patient relationship under drug prohibition.

Perhaps the most disturbing consequence of opium prohibition, and the one least talked about in polite company, is the steady degradation of the doctor/patient relationship that has occurred since prohibition’s inception. In poor countries, where opioids are not at all available, physicians speak truthfully to their patients when they tell them that they have nothing with which to relieve their pain. In countries like the United States, where opioid pain medications are ostensibly legal but where physicians have been intimidated into withholding pain treatment, the doctors feign their impotence. There is certainly a great deal of pain relief to be found in opioid medications, and they are stacked on the pharmacist’s shelves. But physicians in the US are jailed – often arrested by SWAT teams…

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