Dear Mr. President, the more I listen to you speak about how you are going to handle the opioid crisis plaguing our country, the more I realize that your knowledge regarding the disease of addiction is nonexistent.
You first spoke about building a wall to keep drugs out of our country. Every debate, campaign stop and interview you raised your fist and chanted “Build The Wall”. Unfortunately, Mr. President, the drugs live in the USA.
Let me educate you about Purdue Pharma. Owned by the Sackler family they made the list of the richest newcomers to Forbes 2015 with their Pharmaceutical company revenue totaling $14 billion. Purdue Pharma produces the most overused, overprescribed drug in the USA, OxyContin.
OxyContin was introduced back in 1995. It was marketed as addiction proof. It was marketed as safe for everything from back pain to arthritis. The truth is OxyContin is highly addictive but the Sackler’s misrepresented their drug to physicians who began to overprescribe this poison to every patient complaining of any type of pain.
Purdue Pharma’s cornerstone of marketing was on the deceit that the potential for addiction was practically non-existent. Their multifaceted marketing launched OxyContin out of end of life care and into every household in America’s medicine cabinet. Creating the misuse and abuse of opioid painkillers.
The truth is OxyContin is highly addictive and was originally manufactured for terminal cancer patients. Unfortunately the Sacklers knew exactly how addictive their new drug was but continued to misrepresent their drug making millions of dollars while killing thousands of people.
If you truly intend to stop the flow of drugs into our country and If you still insist on building a wall, build it around the Pharmaceutical Industry.
Now let’s talk about Congress as they’ve been bought by Big Pharma. I found that Big Pharma spends millions on political contributions and even more on lobbying. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Pharmaceutical companies contributed $51 million into the 2012 federal election and $32 million into the 2014 election. Pharmaceutical companies also line the campaign pockets of both Republicans and Democrats. In other words Big Pharma owns our government.
Stopping Congress from lining their pockets with contributions from Big Pharma is a step that must be taken. You must end the relationship immediately.
Now let’s talk about your quote. “Maybe by talking to youth and telling them ‘no good, really bad for you’… if they don’t start, it will never be a problem”. I do agree that prevention education must start early and be available in every school nationwide. However, you are taking giant steps backwards into the 1980’s when you resurrect the “Just Say No” campaign that was a tremendous failure.
You must recognize that 2.1 million Americans suffer from addiction. So your talking against using is futile. What you must also recognize is that addiction is not a behavioral issue. According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, “addiction is a chronic brain disorder, not merely a behavioral problem or simply the result of taking the wrong choices”. No amount of talking will save anyone living in the throes of this disease.
Please understand the brains of those addicted have been rewired. The brain adjusts to the opioid use by making less of natural dopamine. The disease affects brain circuitry that directly controls impulse and judgment. In lay terms, your brain turns on you becoming your worst enemy. Addiction causes distortion in how you think and behave. These behaviors are a manifestation of the disease not part of a choice.
Your thoughts of tougher sentences and longer jail time shows once again your lack of knowledge regarding addiction. Rather than wasting time and money with court hearings and branding people with a label that will follow them for the rest of their lives consider providing long term, comprehensive treatment that will lead to sobriety. Incarceration is expensive and wasteful of resources. That money would be better spent in treatment programs that address the root of the addiction.
According to the CDC, drug overdoses now kill more Americans than gun violence or car accidents. 52,000 people lost their lives in 2015. This death toll can be attributed to the increased overprescribing of opioids in our country. Addiction is a USA doctor made disease. Doctors must be stopped, prosecuted and jailed. Never to practice again. You, Mr. President must set the standard establishing laws to shut down pill mill practices.
If you are serious about addressing this epidemic in a way that will be effective, then let me suggest you increase your knowledge regarding what works to treat the disease of addiction.
First, affordable long term in-patient treatment facilities and detox units must be built in every state.
The insurance industry must be mandated to cover addiction treatment as they cover every other chronic disease. The discrimination must end.
Comprehensive mental health programs must be federally funded and available nationwide.
Narcan must be affordable and available in every pharmacy in every state.
Medication Assisted Treatment facilities must be state regulated, accept all Insurance plans, extend hours of operation and incorporate weaning protocols. MAT is a step to recovery not a place to live.
Drug court teams must work with the criminal justice system ensuring that all treatment communities work together helping addicted offenders reach long term recovery.
Until Congress and you, Mr. President stop dancing around the issue we will continue to lose 130 lives a day.
Be aware that grieving mothers like me who have lost a child to this epidemic are watching and waiting for you to stop talking about what you will do and act accordingly by doing what needs to be done.