BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WECT) - Sam Quinones, the author of Dreamland, the True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic, spoke in Brunswick County Thursday night about the nationwide crisis.
"The reason why it's nationwide is because it really has its roots in doctors being sold an idea of how to treat pain," said Quinones, who spoke at the Odell Williamson Auditorium at Brunswick Community College. "Being sold an idea by pharmaceutical companies, by medical establishments, but also by us. We wanted our pain treated and very aggressively and very quickly, and we wanted it cured and we didn't want to work hard at that. So all these things combined to convince doctors that narcotic painkillers, opioid painkillers, were the way to treat pain.
"So what we had was a cultural shift. So within medicine, we had doctors pretty much from coast to coast buying this idea that these pills needed to be used aggressively and that science knew somehow that these pills were not addictive."
Quinones said the pharmaceutical industry played a huge part in changing the way doctors treated pain.
"The pharmaceutical industry really was a major player because, of course, they make these pills," Quinones said. "And they saw a great market to be mined for people with all kinds of pain. Normally, these pills in the past were used primarily for terminal cancer patients, hospice care, that kind of thing. But that's a limited, small market. And they saw a much larger market for people with chronic pain. But also people who had come out of surgery.
"So you saw people coming out of appendix operations, wisdom tooth extractions with huge bottles of these pills to take home with them. So what also happened, people started getting addicted to these pills and also a lot of those pills leaked into the black market."