Horizontal Social Structure Paper Assignment
In a 2-page paper (saved as a Word document or PDF file), please address the following 7 bullet points about this week’s module. Your responses to these bullet points will eventually ground your writing in Paper 2.
Summarize the entirety of the module’s OER reading in 5-10 sentences.
Summarize the entirety of the module’s lecture in 5-10 sentences.
What did you know about the module’s topic before you began the module?
What did you learn about the module’s topic by completing the module?
What do you still not understand about the module’s topic, despite completing the module? (i.e., what questions remain for you?)
Summarize the entirety of the module’s case study in 5-10 sentences.
How does the topic that you learned about in this module connect to the case study? (Be specific. For example, consider applying the module’s concepts to the case study.)
-Case study: (Case Study 2: The Structure of the American Opioid Crisis )
On an average day in the United States, 130 Americans die from an opioid overdose. In fact, according to the National Safety Council, Americans are now more likely to die of an opioid overdose than they are to die in a car crash. At present, the most coordinated effort to forestall this tragedy is to blame Americans for their addiction. Unfortunately, given that half of opioid deaths involve prescription painkillers, this is straight out of the opioid manufacturers’ playbook.
Facing a raft of lawsuits and a threat to their profits, pharmaceutical companies are pushing the line that the opioid epidemic stems not from the wholesale prescribing of powerful painkillers – essentially heroin in pill form – but from their misuse by those who become addicted. In court filings, drug companies are smearing the Americans hooked on their products. While some Americans do break the law by buying opioids on the black market, or by switching to heroin, too often their addiction began by following the advice of a doctor, who, in turn, was following the drug manufacturers’ instructions. According to a recent report by a United States federal commission on opioid addiction, “We have an enormous problem that is often not beginning on street corners; it is starting in doctor’s offices and hospitals in every state in our nation.”
Significantly, this is an almost uniquely American crisis driven in good part by particular features of America’s social structure. While Americans represent less than 5% of the world’s population, they consume more than 80% of the global opioid pill production. Over the past 20 years, one federal institution after another has lined up behind drug manufacturers’ false claims of a scourge of untreated pain in the United States. They seem not to have asked why no other country seems to be suffering from such a scourge or consuming so many opioids for its treatment.
Unlike most other countries, the United States health care system is run as an industry, not a service. This gives considerable power to drug manufacturers and health insurance companies to influence policy and practices. And, too often, their bottom line is profits – not health. Opioid pills are far cheaper and easier to provide than are other forms of treatment for pain, like physical therapy or psychiatry. Through congressional lobbying, pharmaceutical companies have even rewritten medical regulations to permit physicians to prescribe as many pills as they want without censure. Indeed, doctors sometimes find themselves hauled before ethics boards for not prescribing enough drugs to their patients.
In fact, the United States health care system also gives a lot of power to patients. People coughing up large amounts of money in insurance premiums and co-pays expect results. They are, after all, more customers than patients. Doctors complain of patients who arrive in their office expecting a pill to resolve their medical conditions and who don’t take responsibility for their own health by eating better or exercising more. Among patients, the idea has also taken hold, pushed by the pharmaceutical industry, that there is a right to be pain free. While the people of other nations pursue strategies to reduce and manage pain, Americans seem to hold the expectation that pain can simply be made to disappear.