We expect doctors to act almost has a filter between what’s healthy and what’s unhealthy, between what’s harmful and what’s helpful. But what happens when all that trust and faith we place in them gets betrayed? For an unfortunate Massachusetts woman, that betrayal cost her her life.
Dr. Richard Miron is being charged with involuntary manslaughter for the death of an unnamed victim. The victim died on March 17th, 2016 due to a prescribed opioid overdose. She had a non-fatal overdose in February of that same year which Miron was made aware of but continued to prescribe high-doses of opioid medication which reportedly had no real medical purpose.
Sadly, he has had more than one victim of his negligence. Sources say that Miron had the highest number of opioid prescriptions in the entire state of Massachusettes under the Medicaid program. This is, however, the first of case of manslaughter due to opioid overdose in the state of Massachusetts meaning all of his other patients are no longer in danger of being killed due to his actions.
Although Miron’s court date has not been set, the 76-year-old former medical practitioner is on his way to face a hefty sentence. In addition to one count of involuntary manslaughter, Miron also faces 23 counts of the illegal prescribing of medications and 23 counts of submitting false claims for Medicaid reimbursement.
Why You Should Care
It’s no secret that the U.S. is in the midst of an opioid epidemic. Starting from the late 1990s, the opioid epidemic has continued to become increasingly worse and more widespread. Not every case of an opioid-related headline is going to be the fault of the doctor, health-care laws, or even the pharmaceutical companies. More than likely actually it will be about an individual who struggled with the addiction to opioids.
Individuals struggle with substance abused for a number of reasons. They turn to drugs as a way to cope and deal with stress, and addiction is a disease. Opioids are simply one branch of that tree. In many cases, someone who becomes addicted to opioids already has patterns and history of self-destructive behavior, and it manifests itself as opioid addiction leading to overdose.
Of course, these situations are multifaceted with a lot of things to consider. In the case of Miron, the victim was completely innocent, and her only crime was putting faith in a man who was certified to be a healer, not a murderer. And like the unnamed victim, sometimes things happen that are outside of our individual control. A great percentage of opioid addicts were drug-free until being subscribed a certain a medication that led to their addiction.
And in these cases, it is neither in fault of the doctors, the pharmaceutical companies, and to some degree, not even the patients’ fault.
Whether for chronic pain or temporary pain, these medications are often prescribed with little thought or adherence to guidelines, that it’s not a mathematical surprise that the addiction rates are so high. All the intentions between the doctor and patients could be clear and understood, and both parties could mean well. But what we have to remember is that these pain medications only work by altering our brain chemistry.
And despite starting a medication with the honest conscious intent of using it as prescribed, because these medications physically alter our brain chemistry things can change without our wanting them to.
Opioid medications work by binding to opioid receptors in our brain. Speaking plainly, they tell your brain that you’re not in pain, and if you don’t believe you’re in pain you won’t feel it, or least it won’t be as painful.
This is obviously helpful, but because of the side effects of that euphoric feeling, it has very addictive properties.
How To Protect Yourself
When it comes to defending yourself from falling victim to opioid overdose or addiction, the best thing you can do is continue to be informed and arm yourself with knowledge. Knowing how these drugs work, detecting the signs of addiction, and taking the proper action if you feel like you’re in danger can save you and your family a lot of trouble, or even save a life.
It is also important to know that there’s nothing wrong with receiving a second opinion from another doctor if you have a bad feeling about prescribed medication or just want to know more. No one will fault you from trying to protect yourself and stay healthy. There are dozens of programs that you can use and be apart of to help end the opioid epidemic and look after the well being of yourself and those around you. You don’t have to be another statistic.