Editor’s Note: We don’t need another drug war

Nolan Finley, The Detroit News

I cringe whenever I hear initiatives to end the abuse of prescription painkillers described as a “war on opioids.”

We have a long history with drug wars, so we know where this militaristic language leads.

Inevitably, we’ll end up with much fuller prison cells and far fewer civil liberties.

The heavy law enforcement approach to addressing drug abuse hasn’t worked over the past 50 years. And it certainly won’t work with opioids.

This is a different kind of drug epidemic that demands a much different approach. Most often, the “pusher” of painkillers is a doctor legitimately focused on reducing pain, and the user is a patient desperate for relief.

If physicians become paranoid of prescribing opioids, many of the 100 million Americans who suffer from chronic pain will be cut off from their only hope.

Republicans wanted to include $45 billion to address the misuse of opioids in their failed Obamacare rewrite. That’s a lot of money, even for a drug war that consumes billions as if they were molly at a teen rave.

Rather than funding another massive drug war, the money should be used for research to develop less addictive painkillers. There’s considerable optimism that derivatives of marijuana could be the answer, but the Puritans won’t hear of supporting anything that has to do with pot.

Overdoses from opioids and heroin — the painkiller step-up drug — are soaring. This is not a crisis that will be solved by cops and courts, but rather scientists and medical researchers.