Articles, Blog

Understanding the Opioid epidemic in America

December 21, 2019


Hi, I’m Marc Gielissen. If you are new to the
channel then please subscribe and click on the notification bell so that you
won’t miss any new videos I post. In this documentary video, we will have a look at
why the pharmaceutical industry is responsible for an addiction to opioids
turning it into an epidemic crisis While the cannabis is illegal in many
countries, opioid drugs are prescribed by doctors and reimbursed by insurance
companies. Let’s look at the consequences driven by escalating opioid addiction
drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death among Americans under 50 people
are literally dying in the street they’re dying in their parents homes
according to the Centers for Disease Control the opioid epidemic is fueled by
prescription pain medications Michael is real dreamed of becoming an architect in
high school you participated in a video project exploring the architecture of
his hometown of Buffalo these buildings have been here for such a long time
Michael didn’t realise his dream despondent over an addiction to
prescription opioids he took his own life at the age of 20 when Michael said
I’m addicted it was a big surprise the next question that came out of my mouth
was to what Mike and he said his pain pills the medical community has been
over prescribing opioids that’s really the reason we’re in the midst of a
severe epidemic of opioid addiction the doctor do prescribe the hydrocodone do
you think it’s very important that you only see it and I think some physicians
don’t appreciate how potent these drugs are and don’t necessarily appreciate how
many problems they can create how did the painkillers work out for you
started okay I mean they couldn’t get enough West Virginia has been ravaged by
a flood of opioids the epidemic we have in Ohio is fueled primarily by the pain
med problem the opioid epidemic has spiraled as many addicted to
prescription pain pills turned to cheaper and more available street drugs
like heroin and fentanyl so Cameron was my son he was wrestling any broke his
collarbone so he was prescribed percocet I never had a million years thought my
boy would be a heroin addict there’s a lot of blame to go around patient demand
pharmaceutical companies doctors they’re easy with the prescription pad health
insurance came in that would pay for all this stuff I can’t imagine anything else
that would happen in our community that would be associated with that many
deaths I don’t know really outrageous you it’s very hard to get over this image
everyday and everynight of your kid taking his last breath
michael was the child that could put the smile on your face always when Michael
passed away we just started questioning you know how did this happen and why did
it happen how did Michael get addicted what happened to Michael and then you
find out we were all ignorant when it comes to addiction we don’t know very
much about addiction because we never thought that it would happen to us
according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention the number of
drug overdose deaths in America has never been higher the majority of deaths
involved opioids including popular prescription painkillers like oxycodone
and hydrocodone the problems huge the rate of deaths from prescription opiates
has been exponentially growing and that’s only the tip of the iceberg in
terms of how many people’s life’s our Trek I can get people hooked our young people
see prescription medications as something safe and effective a doctor
has given it a pharmacy has welded so they feel okay about it
Michael’s getting everything from our family doctor and two other doctors we
didn’t know that there was all addicting he was taking his pills and these pills
is prescribed people trust their doctor and they think that the doctor is
prescribing things appropriately and monitoring them appropriately and they
think that if the bottle says take it in such and such a way that is perfectly
okay to do that well dr. Richard Blondell is professor and vice chair for
addictions at the University of Buffalo and director of the National Center for
physician training in addiction medicine how did the painkillers work out for you
originally it started okay and then I couldn’t get enough mm-hmm I haven’t
wanted more and more more you keep taking more because you think more is
gonna be better and the more you take the we should get is where she did the
more you want well I think the majority of the time it’s this that doctors are
trying to do a good job and fall into a trap and end up contributing to the
problem there was that bother you when you first get on painkillers
we’ve overexposed the US population to prescription opioids
dr. Andrew claudin is director of opioid Policy Research at Brandeis University
and founder of physicians for Responsible opioid prescribing I think
that the biggest problem has been well-meaning doctors who are intending
to help patients with pain but who are under estimating how addictive these
drugs are and overestimating how helpful they can be when prescribed long-term
that’s not for 15th the opioid epidemic is the unintended
consequence of the increased use and acceptance of prescription opioids it is
made worse because many who become addicted to prescription pain pills
eventually turned to cheaper and more available street drugs like heroin and
fentanyl before they’re using heroin their opioid addicted and that addiction
develops through prescription opioids the reason that we’re experiencing
record high levels of overdose deaths the reason we’re seeing heroin and
fentanyl flood into non urban areas the reason we’re seeing soaring rates of
infants born opioid dependent or outbreaks of injection related
infectious diseases the driver behind all of these problems is the increased
prevalence of opioid addiction in the United States used properly prescription
opioids ease short-term pain from surgery or a broken bone they also
manage severe pain for cancer and end-of-life patients but the amount of
opioids prescribed in America greatly exceeds what is required for those uses
when Michael passed away avi was angry he was angry that had
happened and it shouldn’t have happened here there’s no way I can allow us to
have a dog because Michael kept asking for duck
we knew that Michael was in pain a lot and towards the end of his life he
really suffered we were really terribly lonely so I finally gave in and bused to
my surprise this dog has given us such joy death changes you it completely does
and you want to know why did Michael have to die at the age of 12 Michael was
diagnosed with Crohn’s disease a painful gastrointestinal condition as he got
older doctors prescribed powerful opioid medications to treat his pain
after Michael’s death his parents obtained pharmacy records that showed
Michael was prescribed 185 pain pills over a one-month period I just couldn’t
believe that the doctors did this to him it’s indefensible that they did this to
an 18 year old you know young man changed him chemically forever this
thing takes a beautiful person oh yeah and turns him into a monster that’s my
beautiful baby yeah you know though what happened to you
yeah you know with what’s going on and you don’t understand what’s going on the
reason that the United States is in the midst of a severe epidemic of opioid
addiction is because the medical community began to prescribe opioids
very aggressively and as the prescriptions went up rates of addiction
and overdose deaths went up right along with the increase in the prescribing
more than 240 million prescriptions are written each year for opioid pain
medications enough for every adult American to have their own bottle
oxycontin Alpana and vicodin are among the most
frequently prescribed and most commonly abused prescription opioids these
powerful drugs can literally hijack the brain the effects produced in the brain
by oxycodone and hydrocodone are indistinguishable from the effects
produced by heroin when we talk about opioid pain medicines we’re essentially
talking about heroin pills it is a very powerful drug it’s a different addiction
a course for opiate addiction is you fall off a cliff so there’s no gentle
slope downward with consequences and an opportunity to evaluate what’s going on
it is right off the with repeated exposure to a highly
addictive drug just about anybody can become addicted
we’re acutely aware of the fact that it’s fraud and and it’s not just one one
subset of the population is that doing it it’s kind of a problem that’s
affecting all age groups all races both sexes that allows it to become bigger
because it affects so many people unlike previous drug crises in the
United States the opioid epidemic impacts rural City and suburban
communities and touches every socio-economic group opioid addiction is
a 50-state epidemic Wyoming County is a rural County popularized approximately
23,000 very tight-knit hard-working type communities here the mountains are
beautiful here I mean the people were genuine and good people Oceana is a
close-knit community they’re still good here but through the years it’s
progressively gotten worse than it it is getting worse West Virginia has been
hard hit by opioid addiction it has one of the highest opioid prescription rates
in the country and has one of the highest rates of opioid overdoses and
deaths the majority of our kids are affected by drugs and third immediate
family good morning in our career education class we’ve talked about what
do you want to be when you grow up we know that we have to meet their basic
needs before they’ll ever reach out to you know English or math we’re gonna
talk to each other kind of be a sounding board what does this career really you
know consist of primarily we focus on keeping and making your kids feel safe
got it and learning does take second to that if they don’t feel safe how can we
expect them to learn first of all let me thank you so much
for letting me to come back to beautiful Oceana Senator Joe Manchin visited
Oceana middle school in 2011 as a newly elected senator he came to talk about
education and jobs but the middle school students had other things on their mind
so when I came down five years ago that’s what we were talking about about
the jobs opportunities and then there were some students that want to talk to
me they wanted to share the life that they were challenged with living in an
area that become truly overrun by drugs Chelsea was a seventh grader when she
met with Senator Manchin in 2011 he came to our small community and the
conversation led to the problem with drugs in our community
Oh Siena is a wonderful town a wonderful people great place to live but then
there’s the drug problem my mom and dad were divorced when I was in the sixth
grade and it was because of drugs my dad was in a coal mining accident he soon
after I became addicted to painkillers and he started putting those medicines
before us Chelsea was in the audience when Senator Manchin returned to Oceana
middle school in 2016 the senator was hoping to hear more encouraging stories
from the new group of middle school students he didn’t I think that what is
wrong with our community like the drugs in it I haven’t really seen a change
because I don’t know how it was like before but my parents and my grandma mom
I used to talk how it would be safe at night and you can do whatever we want
could walk the streets and you wouldn’t have to lock your doors and have a doubt
about anyone and now everything is dangerous and you don’t want to go
outside alone even in the daytime it’s still that way you you’re still seeing
that yes my stepdad did him he beat me my mom
but again to my heads mom and me what do you want you all do that he wants you to
take drugs too or you want your mom to take drugs he was just out of control
you and my mom take drugs she wouldn’t do it was he gone now is he out of your
life he shot himself because of it after he killed my mom uh she won’t know if
three times dogs had gotten he didn’t want to divorce she did Oh would you not
twenty I was five but to have a child tell you that my mother was shot with a
needle with oxycodone and the first shot killed her but the guy shot her two more
times to make sure she was dead for a little twelve-year-old girl to tell you
that I think about you seen the horrific effects its had on your families you’ve
seen death in your family at a very young age no child should go through
what you went through you know this is life this is how it is many kids don’t
know anything differently they don’t know that another world exists you know
two demons this is normal I took away from that conversation just as another
day live that day in day out from a lot of the cases that we have here very sad
stories and I’ve heard some horrendous stories over the years from this part of
the state you heard their stories that were worse than ours were four five
years ago my story it’s sad but their stories were devastating like
it was it was very upsetting just to hear those it’s unbelievable
that it’s just getting worse every day we battle this the effects of the drugs
we battle the addictions right here in school their precious kids and they all
have special qualities we need to save their
lives we need to I would just tell them that they had their future and I don’t
want to ever have to go through that with myself or my my family that I live
in years to come we don’t want this for our children so
maybe you know maybe we’re not doing children should not have to live like
these children have had to live they didn’t ask for it
teacher Deborah Davis fights the opioid epidemic at school and in the community
we are a faith-based organization we’re a non-profit and we were established in
2005 because families had nowhere to go so we started helping mothers and wives
and children and wasn’t long till we learned it was the community’s problem
okay we just got this back I focus on what happens if I don’t do anything for
the longest time no one would talk about anything it was hidden
therefore it continued to get worse so now everybody’s talking about it
hopefully we can stop talking about problems and start focusing on solutions
the prices of opioid addiction is a relatively new problem in America prior
to the mid 90s the use of opioids to treat pain was limited to factors
triggered the dramatic increase in prescribing opioids to treat pain
pharmaceutical companies began telling physicians that opioid pain relievers
were safe effective and not addictive around the same time doctors were being
pressured to treat pain more aggressively there came out some new
recommendation from professional medical organizations that pain is really
supposed to be that the fifth vital sign in addition to your blood pressure in
your pulse and your temperature we’re also gonna ask you on a scale of one to
ten how’s your pain today and if your pain
is a five or greater then the physician feels a mandate to medicate that taken
two a day so the maximum daily dose the medical community begins to hear that
we’ve been allowing patients to suffer needlessly
because of an overblown fear of addiction that the compassionate way to
treat just about any complaint of pain is with an opioid so there was a perfect
storm of public demand for the treatment of pain and the pharmaceutical industry
right they’re creating a whole new generation of powerful drugs on your
hands Payne is the number one reason people
visit a doctor pain can be a challenging element for doctors to diagnose and
treat but now doctors were being told they had a new way to treat pain that
was safe and effective don’t be afraid to take what they give you
often it will be an opioid medication in the 1990s new opioid medications were
introduced to treat pain much of the information about these new drugs came
from pharmaceutical companies some patients may be afraid of taking opioids
because they’re perceived as too strong or addictive but that is far from actual
fact the reason that the medical community started to prescribe so
aggressively is that in many ways we were responding to a brilliant marketing
campaign it was in 1996 that Purdue Pharma introduced oxycontin it launched
a campaign to encourage the medical community to prescribe opioids for
common chronic conditions the marketing effort included paid trips for doctors
to workshops on pain treatment and visits from drug reps who often oversold
the benefits and understated the risks of prescribing opioids to treat pain
while oxycontin was the most successful of the new prescription drugs other
companies were producing painkillers and engaging in similar marketing activities
the aggressive marketing increased the use of prescription painkillers to treat
common types of pain from toothaches and migrants to sports injuries and back
pain we start to hear that we shouldn’t worry about patients getting dependent
on the drug that you can taper people off easily and that this is the safe and
effective way to help people with chronic pain and what they were teaching
what was certainly wrong I would describe that as one of the
factors that contributed to the current crisis and that never should have
happened it’s unfortunate that it did and Pritchard is vice president for
Policy and research at pharma an organization representing pharmaceutical
companies in the United States she previously served in the White House
drug policy office it’s very challenging to look back at the history and I don’t
think that anyone involved could have anticipated that we would be facing the
crisis we face today do I think that if there’s inappropriate prescribing an
over promotion and that’s for profit that that needs to be addressed yes do I
think that there was inappropriate behavior that contributed to the problem
we’re in yes but do I think that that’s the sole reason why we face the opioid
crisis we do today I don’t the way that you can do well financially the way that
you can have a blockbuster drug is if you can get the medical community to
prescribe your medicine for common conditions long term conditions and if
it’s a drug that’s very difficult to discontinue using well then you’ve got a
pretty good recipe for a blockbuster as problems with opioid medications emerged
pharmaceutical companies faced increased scrutiny in 2007 Purdue Pharma paid 634
million dollars to settle charges that have misled the public about the risk of
addiction the epidemic we have in Ohio in 2017 several states filed suit
against a handful of pharmaceutical companies accusing them of
ducting marketing campaigns that mislead doctors and patients despite the
concerns opioids remain one of the most prescribed drugs in the United States my
issue is why is there all this surplus product I don’t know why pharmaceutical
companies are not held accountable to that if there’s only this much pain
demand but this much product then obviously you know your products being
used for other purposes since 1999 sales of prescription painkillers in the
United States have quadrupled during that same period the Centers for Disease
Control says there was no change in the amount of pain reported by Americans
there are enough opioid pain pills prescribed in one year to medicate every
adult American for a month so thoroughly we have a disconnect here we have a
situation where there is over prescribing because it doesn’t seem
reasonable to think that for every American there should be a 30-day supply
of a prescription opioid but how do we address that and still ensure that those
with legitimate need are receiving access I understand and empathize with
the incredible pain and suffering that these families are facing to blame the
pharmaceutical industry as having the sole responsibility I think is misguided
and wrong I don’t think that any one factor has led us to the current opioid
crisis it didn’t happen overnight it’s not going to be solved overnight and the
more you open up this Pandora’s box you find you find a broken system in this
country where there’s parts scattered everywhere and there’s people who need
help and they’re broken and they can get they can’t get to health because our
health care system is based on making money
blood pressures good that’s always a dish about who pays for anything we live
in a capitalistic society and our healthcare system is funded through
payments usually fee-for-service so there’s always a discussion about who
pays for what and when the Department of Health and Human Services estimates the
economic impact of the opioid epidemic it’s 75 billion dollars a year much of
that cost is borne by insurance providers including government insurance
programs such as Medicaid Medicare and veterans programs and by private health
insurers public and private insurers confront both ends of the opioid
epidemic paying for prescription drugs for pain patients and then paying for
treatment when patients become addicted and we were extremely troubled by all
the headlines that everyone has seen about the explosion of opioid abuse in
this country and we were mindful of the fact that often this starts out with
prescription drugs dr. Harold Paz is chief medical officer
for Aetna he has an extensive career as a physician and healthcare administrator
because of the addictive properties of these drugs and the fact that they’re
very effective at eliminating pain the pendulum swung way out but at a
tremendous cost and in tragic ways we have to bring it back to the middle when
a physician writes a prescription for a narcotic we depend on the physician to
make the appropriate decisions around does the patient need a narcotic so our
role is not to sit in the room with the doctor and second-guess those decisions
but we can do is look at the overarching patterns that exist health insurers
collect information about the prescribing patterns of doctors Aetna
initiated a program to contact physicians about their opioid
prescribing we really wanted to focus on physicians that are writing a lot of
prescriptions for opioids we started with the top one percent and we said to
the doctors based on on this data based on the CDC recommendation
you are an opioid super prescriber along with the letter Aetna provided a
checklist for doctors to use when prescribing opioids but some question
whether letters are enough to address the problem we expect that our
physicians are going to be well trained they’re gonna practice appropriately and
professionally and ethically and if they aren’t we have in our communities and in
our states the mechanisms to identify that and make sure that those problems
are corrected patients and prescribers really need to understand that opioids
are highly addictive it doesn’t mean that they should never prescribe it or
that the patient should never take it it means we have to be very careful with
these drugs we have to avoid using them when we can and for many types of pain
we can avoid opioids we have alternative treatments I’m treating the tissue and
you’re knocking around your head helps relax this area help with pain – okay so
2016 the Centers for Disease Control created the first national guidelines
for prescribing opioids for chronic pain a key recommendation encouraged doctors
to use non-opioid approaches to treat most pain but changing doctor and
patient reliance on prescription painkillers is challenging I have a
solution that will make this whole problem go away dr. Daniel Alford is
professor of medicine at the Boston University School of Medicine where he
directs an opioid prescribing education program the solution is if the insurance
industry would pay for comprehensive pain management services under one roof
you can get massage therapy cognitive ear therapy acupuncture medication
management you name it I want patients to start demanding multimodal
comprehensive treatment I want them to say to their doc I need something better
and they should be calling up their insurers and saying why don’t I have
access to all these other treatment modalities of course we need to continue
to find more effective ways to treat pain
and we certainly support every physician that wants to provide an alternative to
narcotics our problem is with other therapies alternative therapies that are
not clinically proven until they are we’re not going to cover it because we
don’t have a basis upon which to say it makes sense to cover it what we have to
look for are clinical studies that prove efficacy some alternative treatments are
covered by insurance put coverage varies from company to company and state to
state insurer’s face pressure to pay for pain medications but are also challenged
to control over prescribing the truth is most insurance companies will pay for
physical therapy and some of these alternative treatments but the easiest
thing for a primary care doctor to do is write a prescription if I’ve got 10
minutes to spend with you and you’re complaining of pain writing the
prescription can be the ticket to getting you out of the office quickly so
I can see my my next patient squeeze the shoulder blades together reach the
elbows back it’s a whole lot easier for me to prescribe a medication than it is
for me to get a patient into physical therapy into acupuncture and to
cognitive behavioral therapy and all the other treatments that have been shown to
be effective in treating chronic pain we still have a long way to go it is a
daunting task to get doctors and patients to turn away from prescription
drugs as the first step for treating pain what’s important is that a hundred
million Americans are suffering from chronic pain so we really need to screen
patients better for addiction decrease the amount of opiates that we’re
prescribing and find nonpharmacologic approaches to take care of our patients
with chronic pain very very challenge at the University of
New Mexico pain center an interdisciplinary team works to manage
pain improve quality of life and reduce use of prescription opioids when you
integrate care right many provide as many things as you can
under one roof the outcomes are better this interdisciplinary approach really
offers that patient a co-located home where they can go and receive services
all at once it’ll also allows the clinicians to be able to talk all
together about that patient if I can see a patient for the first time and I can
tell them then their pain is real I believe their story they’re being heard
and we have a team I’d love to hear about your pain story would you tell me
how you developed chronic pain I had a lot of pain when I was working I was a
veterinary technician and I worked in a clinic and I’ve had pain I’ve been
retired for about you it’s very important to realize that there is an
older group that’s become opioid addicted as well these are people in
their 40s 50s 60s 70s and 80s the older group is developing their opioid
addiction almost entirely through medical use usually opioids prescribed
for a chronic pain problem I wanted to continue taking the opioids because they
out the goal of the interdisciplinary team is to reduce reliance on opioid
medications doctor dull has been really helpful in that respect because he
changes the medication he changes it from one type of opioid to a different
types and in doing that I’m able to take less then I was overall is that
communication that’s ultimately gonna lead to better patient outcomes and I
think that’s what we’re doing which is so heartening the interdisciplinary
approach to pain management is fairly new it is more expensive than
traditional pain management it takes money we don’t get reimbursed for some
of our services but I really do think that we have shown that we have a really
good return on investment and the patients are happier because they feel
like they’re being seen by a whole team and they’re and they don’t really need
just that one opiate I’ll make that appointment for you how does that sound
sounds wonderful I think you’re doing great Susan every time I one of my colleagues writes
a story on the opioid epidemic we get responses from families fathers mothers
who have buried children a week of earlier and they want to sit down and
talk with us and sadly it’s the same story it’s the same tragic set of
circumstances except for the names and faces there’s just no end to these
stories in my job you deal with a lot of people who suffer losses and there are
people who lose a loved one and he cannot move on there are people who lose
a loved one and turn around and say what can I do
that’s what Jennifer was doing so Cameron was my son he passed away five
years ago I have a heroin overdose I never in a million years thought that
you know my boy would be a heroin addict so like I said before and I’ll say it
again I love life I love all of its fights like the Cameron was a student an
athlete at one of the top high schools in Albuquerque New Mexico he was
wrestling any broke his collarbone and he had to have surgery so he was
prescribed percocet he was injured about three months later again and a football
injury and broke his other collarbone and he
didn’t require surgery the second time but they gave him more painkillers a
second time you’re given 30 pills by a doctor and you think that they need to
take all 30 of them because otherwise why would they give you so many didn’t
even cross my mind that it was something that was dangerous or addictive or
anything like that it’s fairly typical kids would get injured
whether they were in wrestling football gymnastics suddenly they’re on a road
and it’s it’s a fast track and it doesn’t take very long
Cameron’s Road to heroin addiction was paved with prescription painkillers
eventually he turned to cheaper and more readily available street drugs nearly
half of people who use heroin were first addicted to prescription painkillers
that wasn’t his you know goal in life to get addicted to
opiates and then move on to heroin I didn’t even know that opioids and heroin
were related it’s not that there are young people out there who are deciding
one day that heroin sounds like a fun drug to try before they’re using heroin
there opioid addicted and that addiction develops through prescription opioids
the pills are very expensive on the black market they switch because it’s
much less expensive we’ve seen overdose deaths in that group rise very rapidly
because the heroin supply has become more dangerous
it has fentanyl in it now the migration from prescription pain pills to heroin
has changed the demographics of drug addiction in America while heroin use
has increased in most socio-economic groups some of the greatest increases
are in demographic groups with historically low rates of heroin use
every person I’ve ever talked to who ends up a heroin addict they talked
about how when they were doing pills they would never do heroin they would
never put a needle in their arm crossing those thresholds into the next phase
it’s literally five minutes because you go from I’ve never had a needle in my
arm till a needle is in my arm and now we’re off and running I was completely
shocked I quickly found out that you know when
drugs don’t discriminate they’re everywhere Fernan ik like Cameron what
happens is that drug replaces everything it replaces your love for your parents
it replaces your love your friends your other family members you steal lie cheap
do whatever you can to get the money to get your next fix that’s
sounds like a cliche but it’s a cliche because it’s true that’s what happens
since my son passed away my life was completely changed I felt like nothing
was the same anymore and nothing meant as much anymore and so it was very
difficult it’s still very difficult even though it’s been five years it still
feels like it was yesterday as with many parents who lose a child to
opioid addiction jennifer has devoted her life to helping others
she started serenity Mesa a youth addiction recovery program we do
long-term treatment for young men aged 14 to 21 and we provide not only drug
treatment and counseling but life skills high school education and job placement
job readiness programs things like that and we’re able to really dig deep into
some of the trauma and you know some of the underlying issues that may have
caused our substance abuse in the first place
helping others deal with addiction has helped Jennifer face her own loss it
helps to help other people and to see you know all the young men at serenity
Mesa and the progress that they make and how well they do their battling to save
their life right now they don’t realize it cuz they’re so young and that was the
issue I think with Cameron is he was just so young he didn’t he didn’t know
he was dealing with a life or death situation he just thought he could quit
whenever he wanted to and everything would go back to normal
they say that you learned to live with grief you don’t get over it it doesn’t
go away but you learn to live with it but you know I still think about him all
the time it’s been said to me that these people aren’t bad people trying to be
good they’re sick people trying to get better with the opiate population it’s
it’s different in the fact that a lot of times they don’t see this train coming
down the tracks you know it’s it’s an injury it’s a surgery and often times
that’s where it starts hey Bill alright good see you again yeah it’s uh so it’s
been what two weeks now I was 15 years old and I had
tumor in my spine spent a week in the hospital they sent me home with a bunch
of medication I ended up being addicted to opiates I gave up I didn’t care what
happened to me it’s a pretty horrible feeling when you you don’t really care
if you live or die okay so what’s up for this week what do
you have planned my son loves dinosaurs so I think this weekend we’re gonna go
to a fossil museum it should be fun I’m excited it’s amazing what you think
is normal turns out to be this terrible ordeal
that I dealt with for the past 15 16 years it takes over your life it’s
sickening to even think of the things that I’ve done and the people that I’ve
hurt and just not to even care at the time what was going on I think deep down
every addict has a desire to not be living that life anymore I think that
desire has to be strong enough to want to change to outweigh the draw the pull
from that part of the brain that’s been sort of hijacked by the addiction
opioids are one of the toughest addictions to break opioids produce an
addictive euphoria that alters the chemistry of the brain according to the
national institute on drug abuse treatment programs that focus only on
abstinence do not result in long term recovery the reality is there’s no fix
there’s no cure for this disease there’s a lot of work involved in this it’s not
just a quick fix or a miracle cure there’s not a magic bullet out here we
don’t have a one and out well come in and we’ll save you and you’re gonna be
all good it’s a long and difficult road opioid addiction is a chronic disease
like diabetes or heart disease all need to be managed for a lifetime treatment
for addiction typically includes some form of individual or group therapy
we’ve become you getting highs not who you are who you are sitting in this
chair today for with the curves and faith in the whole
and tomorrow could be a better day the disease can be arrested you know you can
lock it up and lock it up forever you know and as long as you don’t put that
key in the lock and turn it and let it loose you can be you can be free from
the horrors of addiction things that really were offering me before they ever
seemed like they were gonna get better I can remember one time I was working with
a family and the day the young man was to leave our facility
the mother thanked me she said thank you for curing my son and I said I’m sorry
there’s really no cure this is a daily reprieve contingent upon what your son
is gonna do moving forward it’s hard as hell to bury yourself to a program like
this that do something to really change your life and gets out outside of your
comfort zone treatment must address changes to the brain caused by opioid
addiction medication assisted treatment is a proven effective treatment for
individuals with opioid use disorder use of medications helps to wean the brain
off opioids and improve outcomes for addicted patients one of the most
effective treatments is the medicine called suboxone or buprenorphine will
control the people’s cravings and it reduces the risk that they’re gonna die
of of an overdose opioid replacement with buprenorphine is one of those
things that for many people is a is a game-changer while medication assisted
treatment improves the chances for recovery there is a lingering issue of
why treatment for opioid addiction often fails oftentimes it’s not just one
treatment it’s multiple treatments and that’s where I think the frustration
comes in where people think that you know recovery doesn’t work you know it’s
it’s fruitless it’s just not gonna happen you know my loved ones been
through this three four or five times once somebody becomes addicted to
opioids it’s a lifelong problem they’re not gonna get better by checking into a
rehab for 30 days or getting detoxed the treatment is generally gonna be very
long what we need to do is look at addiction as a continuum treatment
doesn’t end at one year doesn’t end at two years I think we’re we’re faced
constantly as families friends employers I think that a stint in a rehab for a
month means uh potential success but for the
most part people will have lapses because information about treatment is
not well documented it is hard to know how many people relapse but relapse does
not mean failure you’re going to treatment and it doesn’t fix you and
you’re gonna have people who fall off the wagon and you you know but the thing
is is not to condemn the kid is to say okay we need to start all over again we
have to prepare people for a relapse better because it is likely that’s what
the research tells us that’s what we see on the ground and Families people need
to be prepared for that addiction is looked at as you did it to
yourself it’s your problem pick yourself up by your boots pull your
socks up and go take care of yourself it doesn’t work like that it doesn’t work
like that at all is everybody excited about getting on here today one of our most popular classes are
cycling or spin as people know it treatment goes beyond dealing with the
power of the addiction to help patients reconnect to seemingly ordinary
activities pick up your pace a little bit it not only helps with your fitness
improve fitness but it also improves your mood which that will then they’ll
feel better about themselves they’ll have better confidence in themselves
because they are very broken when they first come into us it’s not hopeless but
because it’s not an easily resolved problem they’re scared out of their
minds it took me to get help myself that I could do this before I could even
really make any actions charter coveri you walk around here and you talk to the
people that are here and for this point in time they have a chance the challenge
for many is finding access to treatment the National Institute on Drug Abuse
estimates fewer than twelve percent of Americans suffering from substance use
disorders receive treatment for many the stigma associated with opioid and heroin
addiction gets in the way of treatment well when you talk about addiction
sometimes that triggers responses based on prejudice and ignorance so there are
some who might think that it’s not a medical problem at all it’s just a moral
character defect what I don’t like about describing this as an abuse problem is I
think it puts in people’s mind the notion that what we’re dealing with is a
problem of people behaving badly taking dangerous drugs because it feels good
and they’re accidentally killing themselves in the process that isn’t
what what’s going on once you’re addicted you’re not doing it because
it’s fun or you’re choosing the lifestyle you’re doing it because you
have to you should not be ostracized and you
should not be punished because something happened to you unintentionally or
accidentally the families that are grappling with a loved one that is in
the throes of addiction our message from personal experience to them is grab your
child hold them tight and let them know that you’re all you’re in it together
you know it’s not it’s not just them alone you’re in it together because that
their child is in for the fight of their life for the rest of their life when Ivy
and Julie Israel lost their son to opioid addiction they wanted to help
other families very javi and Julie started save the
Michaels of the world in hopes of preventing other family tragedies this
disease is killing people across the country you know there’s no boundaries
to it there’s no class levels there’s no education levels or any of that stuff
there’s people dying all over it should be more of an outrage out there people
should be out there demanding results I think there’s not more outrage because
the people that are not affected don’t think it’s gonna happen to them which
you know what that’s a false sense of security because you know why you are
one car accident one surgery one wisdom tooth one sports injury away from the
disease of addiction because that’s how fast it can happen to your family there
is a growing outrage not enough maybe we might have been in a better place right
now if there had been more outrage early on and so now we’re reaping the
consequences of what we have sown and now we’re trying to undo some of that
stuff that’s it’s a lot easier to do it than it is 200 there are small signs of
progress in combating the opioid epidemic the Centers for Disease Control
reports opioid prescribing peaked in 2010 and decreased each year through
2015 experts say the drop is to sign the culture of over prescribing is changing
but fewer prescriptions have not resulted in a drop in opioid addiction
and death there are no easy solutions to the
opioid epidemic while treatment is essential any long-term approach must
focus on prevention and we had the right education and people were motivated the
right way they wouldn’t get this disease in the first place so there’s a great
amount of hope if we shift our thinking about our approach to this disease and
shift more towards prevention and early identification the way you respond to
disease epidemics or outbreaks is really by accomplishing two things the the
first thing that you need to do is to prevent new cases of the disease you
want to contain it keep new people from from getting it and the other thing that
you need to do is you need to treat the people who have the disease so they
don’t die from it that’s really gonna be the only way we
can bring down overdose deaths in the short-term I would start with a massive
educational campaign the same kind of educational campaign and awareness that
they did for any other new kind of emerging disease so now we have to start
thinking about educating our children better about educating doctors better
about educating parents better about educating our public health officials
better about educating our politicians better all of those people have to come
together to really effect a strategy prevention well I believe that we need
to educate at a much younger age than we do now but again because of the disease
of denial many folks are gonna say well we don’t need that in my town we don’t
need that in my school that’s four down the road but the problem is down the
road is right in your locale we’ve got to fix this and it’s gonna take some big
time solutions here this is not gonna be something where you put up a couple of
billboards and it’s all gonna get better people want it all fixed next month you
know here’s the problem you know at five o’clock solution film at 11:00 ain’t
gonna happen everybody has to accept their little
piece of responsibility for this do their part to fix the problem
as long as I was saying pointing the fingers and blaming somebody else is not
gonna get done but I think what is beginning to have an impact is
increasingly you’re seeing families that have been affected by the problem
speaking out and some of these families survivor advocates are having an impact
I think prevention is key educating the parents educating the coaches educating
the kids through the school systems how many of you found something interesting
if we had prevention programs in all the schools and all the districts from an
early age on up then kids would have the education parents would have the
education and all the people around them you know the coaches it’s a community
problem wherever there’s a propensity for somebody to get an opiate whether
it’s a dentist a doctor wherever the education needs to be there
the families that are left behind who want to tell the stories because they
don’t want it to be that their child or loved one died in vain they want to
spare other people the agony of losing a loved one and I think that’s gonna be
the strongest you know boost to really changing society’s attitude in life as a
death you fight for your children it’s Michael’s spirit that drives us you
don’t want the world to forget that there was a kid by the name of Mike
Weiser all that lived here he was a good kid it was a terrific kid and we miss
him he has also put us on a path in a journey where um we’re gonna we’re gonna
take it to the end there’s there’s no turning back now we watched a beautiful
boy go from jumping around and everything and being so funny
and to suffer and so you fight for him and we took him
all over to get him help now we’re taking Michael all over to get other
people help when we first started talking about this we were like a little
flickering flickering candle and now we have like a flashlight beat it’s still
not daylight out there we’re still got a long way to go it’s moving in the right
direction and unfortunately it’s taken a lot of death to get this movement and
it’s gonna take more that’s before the stops
I see tragedies for sure but I also see successes and that’s where the hope
comes because it doesn’t have to be like this our society doesn’t have to be
riddled with addiction we don’t have to pick up the paper and read about all
these kids that overdosed every day we don’t have to do that we can do better
we know how to do this it’s just getting the will to do it

2 Comments

  • Reply kitty engels September 26, 2019 at 12:18 pm

    Trump classified it as a weapon of mass destruction

  • Reply Antonio White October 8, 2019 at 6:16 am

    Hmmmm i think its in the person's mind. The pill didn't tell them to keep taking more and more. Learn to use it in moderation!

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