Ant McPartlin began taking painkillers due to the severe pain he experienced after a botched surgery
(press release: summitbehavioralhealth) // New Jersey // Maria Ulmer MA, LMFT, CAADC | Chief Clinical Officer
Americans might not be familiar with Ant McPartlin, but many can probably identify with the struggles he faced after he became addicted to prescription painkillers following a knee surgery.
One-half of the popular British comedy duo Ant and Dec, McPartlin has come forward with his story in the hope of spreading awareness about the dangers of prescription drug use.
According to media reports, he entered a treatment facility to help him recover from drug use he first developed following a failed knee surgery two years previously. He said he began taking painkillers due to the severe pain he experienced after the surgery didn’t work. He also says his busy schedule made it difficult to address the problem.
The Opioid Crisis Abroad
Like the U.S., the United Kingdom is experiencing its own growing opioid addiction crisis. According to one report, British doctors prescribe 65 million painkillers every year, with back pain being cited as the most common reason for these prescriptions.
A recent BBC report draws attention to a letter published in 1980 in the New England Journal of Medicine. In fact, the letter was actually a “letter to the editor” of the journal. In it, a physician states that opioids are not addictive. This letter was then cited “more than 600 times, usually to argue that opioids were not addictive.” Interestingly, the letter was just one paragraph long. However, its impact on the United States and around the world has been enormous.
In 2017, the New England Journal of Medicine published a rebuttal to the 1980 letter. Doctors and other healthcare professionals now agree that the letter was a tipping point for the opioid addiction epidemic that has gripped countries around the world. The head of clinical pharmacology and toxicology at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Services Centre told the BBC, “I don’t think it mattered that [the letter] didn’t say much, what mattered was its title and its publication, and those two things went a long way.”
Today, the British Medical Journal cautions doctors to limit opioid prescriptions and to find alternative ways to treat pain in their patients.
Furthermore, the original physician who wrote the letter has been instrumental in rebutting it. He stated, “I’m essentially mortified that that letter to the editor was used as an excuse to do what these drug companies did. They used this letter to spread the word that these drugs were not very addictive.” The doctor has also testified before the government regarding drug manufacturers’ marketing practices for opioids.
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