The Painful Truth According to @SteveTransform of @transformdrugs

According to Steve Rolles, Senior Policy Analyst for Transform (who was quoted in an article in Sputnik News):

“The drivers of drug dependence are a complex mix of social and cultural factors — including [such] inequality as poverty, as well as wider issues with education, mental health and social service provision. Problematic drug use tends to be a reflection of wider social wellbeing [sic] — which is obviously a much bigger challenge to address. So there is no single silver bullet solution, but redacting resources from enforcement into treatment and harm reduction and ending the criminalization of people who use drugs would be a good start.”

Transform is a nonprofit think tank that seeks laws to regulate drugs, both in the UK and in other developed countries.

Support for the potential relationship suggested by Rolles can be seen in these graphics:

drug deaths 2


Based on this data, a direct correlation between poverty rates and drug overdose rates cannot be drawn. But, it would be equally spurious to claim there is no relationship between poverty rates and drug overdoses, particularly in the Appalachian region and the American Southwest – the dark colors on both maps say it all.

Pain is an International Problem

Although many of us think of pain as a unique problem for those living in the United States, the painful truth is that pain is an international problem. One in five individuals in developed countries has chronic pain.

The number of people suffering from pain and requiring treatment for it has been increasing in all parts of the world, especially in countries that are making economic progress.

Reasons Why Pain is Occurring At Epidemic Proportions

Increased aging population with more severe arthritis and spinal degeneration, chemical and radiation induced pain in cancer survivors, the epidemic of obesity leading to more arthritic pain, and diabetes associated with peripheral neuropathy and increased conversion rate of acute to chronic pain are a few reasons why pain is occurring at epidemic proportions.

Yet effective and safe therapies are scarce-to-nonexistent in most countries, and worse in the United States. Opioids become the inexpensive default treatment that has contributed to the opioid crisis in multiple countries

The U.S. is Not Alone in Facing an Opioid Crisis

We have a great deal of company, in many parts of the globe, in facing an opioid crisis. Elsewhere, as here, the truth is that the solution lies in learning to better manage pain.

If we had better pain management education, and more treatment tools, then fewer opioids would be prescribed. Fewer people would, therefore, suffer from opioid abuse or would die of opioid overdoses.

The Painful Truth is that the root cause of the growing international opioid crisis is a colossal failure to recognize the pandemic of intractable severe and devastating pain. You can read more about the global realities of opioids and addiction here.


  1. Kathy Cooper on July 3, 2016 at 9:12 pm

    Rolles Used the Phrase “Science and Reason” He claimed that “No amount of Science and reason seemed to work.” Here is the problem, especially in the US, they have not used Science and reason. He re frames the narrative about the 90’s and the pain epidemic, which sounds reasonable. In the US certain Marketers were able to overcome “Science and reason” and allow these drugs to be marketed in a misleading way.
    This is the popular narrative which leaves out the numbers or any rational discussion over what happened, and led to this current hysteria. It also allowed the Industry to get a penalty and made it appear that they were doing something, only in appearance. Science and Reason have no place in the current discussions, Mythology, superstition, and marketing are more relevant.
    They changed the discussion to one of a double message, one about the horrors of addiction, Most people can agree that addiction is a horrible issue. Instead of the discussion being about why we have so many people living in despair, and why we now we have generational drug abuse and mental illness. They did not challenge the current systems that promoted this. The methods they used to address this growing problem over the last 2 decades have not been called into question.
    So many of these so called “Non Profits” that have been given a lot of funding, have not appeared to be addressing any of this in any more than a minimal way. They get plenty of free advertising and are promoted constantly in the Media, yet where are the numbers? They may have started out with good intentions, but they seem to just perpetuate themselves. They have a presence only because they don’t really question the System, if they don’t question it or call out the practices that got us here, they clearly get more funding. There are no big Non Profits questioning any of the Policies that allowed this scourge to continue.
    No non profit has called for better data collection by the CDC or the Department of Health, Medicare or any Agency that has oversight. Not one has really spoken for the people affected by this. it almost appears they do, when they patronizingly use one of the survivors or a family members story to shore up their narrative. The Federal government just pledged a lot of money to tackle the “opiate epidemic.” This money is going to the same assemblage of providers who used “Faith based” and other non Scientific methods to appear they were providing “Treatment.” There are some Mental health Providers also that are going to use Peer Counseling. It sounds good, but where is the data to back up their claims. How do we know this is not another way to avoid hiring professional and thus have less accountability and more money left over.
    Some of us thought there might be some Science and Reason behind this, but there isn’t. There is no hard data as to the effectiveness of any of these treatment models. There is only the Perception through advertising and Lobbyists. It has been a slight of hand, with the Non Profits appearing to give an unbiased version of “Helping” while they have become an Industry in themselves dependent on the goodwill of others in the Industry.
    The Millions of people who have Chronic Pain have conveniently been left out of the discussion. They are bad for business, They are inconvenient in the For Profit model. Since the enormous healthcare providers have become a near monopoly, there is little or no dissent or questioning from the Doctors working in these systems, if not gag orders there is an incentive to only promote the narrative about “Drug Addiction”, The patients that they could not help are not in this equation. The failure of the Medical Industry to provide evidence based care is not mentioned, only the profit driven narrative.
    They are even adverting hospitals now, and the Media promotes them, it is good business. This is 16% of the Budget in the US, there is a lot of money to be made with nebulous results. There is little or no “Investigative Journalism” so the Public does not know what is really going on there. The Politicians are happy to ignore the facts and the affected, the people who have not had a good outcome, they don’t matter because the industry and their so called “No Profits” have a Spokesperson with good marketing and manipulation skills to educate them on what the problem is. There is no Independent angle anymore, the Industry has seen to that. So when we get a little bit of information, the Industry has already spun it for the general public. Like all adverting we don’t get the whole story, only the good parts. They show the ones who won the lottery when it came to healthcare. The ones who did not need additional care, at least not yet. They get one of the winners to show how wonderful it all is. They can also recruit “Clients” to inform the Policy makers, a group of people who will sing their praises. They have no objective idea of whether they were really helped or not. They feel important, and recognized as long as they follow the official narrative, they get to speak and feel like they contributed.
    The Public has been brainwashed, we were supposed to have progress, every week there is a new “Breakthrough”, often they are in reality Big Pharma or Healthcare related advertising taken out of context, often after there is a negative News Article” about one of their products. The Media promotes a new “Study” which only gets promoted because it does not conflict with the narrative, and bolsters it, not because it is Scientifically relevant. People can’t tell the difference between Advertising and News anymore. Of course this did not happen overnight or by accident. Just repeat some story enough and it becomes fact.
    here is just the “Opinion” of one more of the non profits that are set to cash in on this windfall, there is no new information here, just a regurgitation of the same story line. He mentions that this is part of a bigger problem, which is certainly true. Science and Reason have no failed, they have just been ignored, in favor of easy answers, scapegoating and Industry bottom lines.

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