In 1804, Frederich Serturner experimented with opium and created something new—morphine—named after the Greek god of sleep and dreams, Morpheus. More than 200 years later, at least 8 million Americans fall asleep at night under the influence of an opioid. Every morning, 40 of them don’t wake up. As described in a previous article on this subject, the United States is in the grip of a prescription opioid disaster: with 2 million ...

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It’s almost unthinkable that in an era preoccupied with “evidence-based” medicine and “best practice” advice, one of the worst drug problems in the United States flows right out of our health care system. Unlike other major epidemics such as those connected to methamphetamine, crack cocaine or other illegal drugs, our prescription opioid problem is full of irony and agony, because it has been fueled, to a certain extent, by the ...

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