We were discussing the astounding fact that kids as young as 10 years old are being treated for drug abuse in our state. This was one of the many conversations we've had over the last couple of years about our "opioid crisis." One question always comes up: Why now?

Heroin and other opioids have been around for generations. Usage rates have fluctuated year to year over the last several decades. Why in the last three or four have they gone through the roof? Is it something with the millennial generation? What's changed?

The main theory as to why it's gotten out of control is that doctors over-prescribe the stuff and then people get hooked. Their prescriptions run out and they turn to street heroin. Now, they're junkies. But doctors are good people. We all love our doctors. Ahh, they were put up to it by the evil drug companies. So said one of our callers Wednesday responding to a theory I'd heard that pointed the finger straight at....the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare. One caller from Princeton scoffed at the notion and admonished us to "do your research."

I hadn't really looked into the claim, but it sounded plausible to me, since most of government's well-intentioned social engineering endeavors have horrible unintended consequences. So I did the research. Here's an excerpt from Investors Daily citing TIME Magazine.

Time senior writer Sean Gregory says that ObamaCare’s patient satisfaction surveys are contributing to the growing problem of opioid abuse in the U.S. More than 60% of drug overdoses in 2014 were from a prescription opioid, and ERS treat more than 1,000 patients a day for misusing the drugs. What’s the connection? The satisfaction survey asks questions about things like hospital cleanliness, noise levels and staff communication. But it also asks questions about pain management, including whether the hospital did “everything they could to help you with your pain.” Under ObamaCare, these patient satisfaction surveys, along with other quality measures, are tied to $1.5 billion in Medicare payments to hospitals, giving the hospitals a huge incentive to make sure they score well.

And here are yet some more stats from Dailywire.com.

It just makes sense that if you gave a benefit to a large number of people who either chose not to get insurance or by poor lifestyle choices, couldn't afford it, this kind of outcome would be likely. For sure there were some problems with our system before, but we've compounded them with more government involvement and regulation and giving a free benefit to some at great expense to others. Most of the others, having made good lifestyle choices by and large, are paying for it and society is paying much more.

You can find many examples in the past few decades where government attacking a problem with free stuff and complex rules blows up in our face. The war on poverty started in the 1960s has not eliminated or even reduced the rate of poverty but has robbed the dignity and work ethic of at least three generations of those it sought to help. I just threw the theory out there today, but now that I've "done the research" as our caller screeched, I am a believer. We'd love to know what you think.

More from New Jersey 101.5:

Sign up for the NJ1015.com Newsletter

Get the best of NJ1015.com delivered to your inbox every day.