With more time quarantined at home, now is a good opportunity to invest in helpful reading materials. And one new book does a great job of exploring America’s opioid crisis and the rise in prescription medication addictions. Titled White Market Drugs, it covers this trend from all the way back in the 1910’s and carries it over into the deadly epidemic we are seeing today.
University of Buffalo history professor David Herzberg authored the 365-page expose, which is available at all major online retailers. He also got a nice write up in The Wall Street Journal, which covered the mission and the message behind the book.
Herzberg structures the book into three sections. Each covers a different prescription addiction crisis of the modern era. Section one begins at the turn of the 20th century and introduces the medical sales of opioid painkillers (which, at one point, included cocaine). Section two covers the 1930’s through the 1970’s, touching on America’s “sedative boom.” The final portion lays out the 21st century and the opioid epidemic as we know it today.
As Herzberg put it, all of these fall under the classification of “White Market Drugs,” as in they heavily impact middle and upper class Americans. These meds are far removed from the illegal “street drugs” that are often publicized, though, in many cases, they can be just as deadly.
Speaking with WSJ, Herzberg offered a brief summary of this dangerous and misunderstood trend.
“I think of these as a profit-driven drug crises,” Herzberg explained. “They took place within the white market and afflicted far more people than any of the crises associated with illegal drugs. They happened because of poor consumer protections, themselves the product of pharmaceutical-industry lobbying and regulatory forbearance.”
Indeed, this story has many unseen layers that involve pharma corporations, high-ranking medical professionals and a society that often turns away from the problem at hand. There is also a bit of sympathy for the originators of these pharmaceutical medications. Even going back to the 1900’s and the cocaine disbursements, the goal was always to help people suffering from pain.
But, as with any addiction crisis, things got out of hand, large profits entered the equation and in, a span of 100 years, millions of lives were lost to these dependencies. We definitely recommend adding White Market Drugs to the fall reading list and sharing it with anyone from your inner circle.