Opioid Misuse : Nothing changes if nothing changes!
We hear the terms opioid crisis, opioid epidemic and opioid addiction in the media so frequently that they tend to lose some of their initial impact. It’s easy to forget that for every opioid abuser there are parents, spouses and children all suffering the side effects of this debilitating disease. This year in the United States, it is projected that 1,000 people a week will die from an opiate overdose. Drug overdoses kill more Americans than automobile accidents and gun violence combined. Substance misuse is now our #1 health issue and threatens the very foundation of society. To stop the onslaught of this latest epidemic requires an understanding of how we got here coupled with the ability to take intelligent actions moving forward.
A brief history of mans inhumanity to man for profit
Opioids, in their natural state, is a plant known as the opium poppy. From 3400BC when mankind first began cultivating opium poppies to our present-day opiate epidemic, few substances have brought mankind such misery and heartache. Beginning around 300BC, with the opening of the silk road running from Europe to China, continuing to today’s opioid crisis, greedy and unethical people have used opiates to enrich themselves by enslaving their fellow human beings.
The plethora of manmade opiates had its beginning in 1804 when a German chemist isolated Morphine from the opium poppy. He named his discovery Morphine after the Greek god of dreams, Morpheus. This dream has become our national nightmare. Morphine, codeine, and thebaine all come from the opium poppy. They are the substances used for manufacturing opiate drugs. Most of us have heard of morphine and codeine, but the lesser known thebaine, is the raw material used to manufacture OxyContin.
Merck, the pharmaceutical giant, was just a fledgling company back in 1810 when they began producing morphine. Profits from morphine sales helped turn Merck into a mega success and with their invention of the hypodermic needle in 1857 the delivery system had been perfected. All that was needed to keep the money flowing, was to convince doctors to keep prescribing it. This was helped immensely by the civil war when over 60,000 people lost limbs. Granted, morphine helped save lives, but the cost was great. What we now know as drug addiction was then called soldier sickness. Thousands of injured war vets became casualties of addiction.
In 1874 an English chemist, C.R. Alder Wright, boiled morphine and combined it with various acids which produced a more potent form of morphine called diacetylmorphine – the precursor to heroin. After performing some experiments on animals and other tests, Wright recognized the dangers associated with this powerful new product and decided to shelve his experiments. Then, in 1897, the same year Bayer created its namesake aspirin, they started synthesizing Wright’s diacetylmorphine and came up with a drug they named heroin. Felix Hoffman, a Bayer chemist, was trying to create a pain reliever with the potency of morphine but with less addictive qualities like morphine’s sister codeine. Instead, his experiment produced a product twice as powerful and twice as addictive as morphine. Bayer quickly began marketing this new drug as a cure for morphine addiction. Sound familiar?
What a great business model; you get an addict to switch from one drug, morphine, to a new drug that you supply, heroin. Isn’t this the current business model of some drug manufacturers? They hook you on prescription opiates, OxyContin, Percocet, and the like, then sell you another drug such as Subutex (buprenorphine), Suboxone (buprenorphine and naloxone), or methadone and call it a cure or treatment. The only winner in this scenario is the drug manufacturer. This is simply doing “more” of what is not working. Subutex and Suboxone are also opiates. They can be used short term to lessen withdrawal from other opiates. Unfortunately, they are being prescribed more and more frequently as a long-term treatment, resulting in addiction. Detoxing from these drugs can be worse than heroin. Coincidentally, many street heroin dealers also sell Suboxone and Subutex. Without long-term behavior modification at the conscious and subconscious level addicts rarely stay the course because the person still has the mind of an addict. This is the same reason addicts who go through medical detox almost always relapse upon release. The detox helps with the physical withdrawal from the opiates but unless consistent long-term behavioral modification takes place nothing changes.
In 1914 the United States, recognizing the growing health challenge, passed the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act restricting the sale of heroin. This was a step in the right direction; however, by that time, drug manufacturers were addicted themselves – addicted to profits, that is. The following is just a partial history of what drugs were synthesized as alternatives to heroin; Oxycodone (1916), hydrocodone (1920), and hydromorphone (1924) followed by methadone in 1937. Opiate addiction still plagued society. Pharmaceutical companies’ scientists kept searching for legal heroin substitutes and bigger profits through chemistry.
Let’s fast forward to 1995. A small company, Purdue Pharma, had a big idea. Why not take a page out of the past with a proven record of success? They took a little-known drug (Oxycodone) and resynthesized it to make it more powerful and longer lasting. Next, they began aggressively lobbying the FDA for approval.
The Food and Drug Administration approved OxyContin in late 1995. Although no clinical trials were presented, the FDA allowed Purdue to market OxyContin to be less addictive than Vicodin and Percocet. Purdue Pharma’s successful marketing campaign to doctors made claims that Oxy was safe and would be less likely to be abused than other opiates because it was non-habit forming. Doctors began prescribing Oxy with reckless abandon. Purdue knew about the risks yet continued to lie about the risks to the medical community and their patients. Purdue has since paid fines of $640 million for their crime but that’s just a slap on the wrist. Purdue Pharma has pocketed billions. Due to their greed and unethical behavior Purdue grew from a small company with yearly gross revenues of $48 million to over $1 billion in just four years. The Sackler family, owners of Purdue, now have an estimated net worth of $14 billion. This is true blood money. More people died last year from prescription drug overdoses than all the heroin and cocaine overdoses combined. Heroin-related deaths are also skyrocketing due the addition of synthetic opiates, fentanyl and carfentanil, being added to the product which greatly increases potency. The National Institute of Drug Addiction statistics state that up to 20% of the US population suffers from an addiction problem.
So, what’s the solution?
Medication is certainly not the solution; after all, that’s how we got into this mess. Often times pain is a direct result of trauma and inflammation. Opiates mask pain. The current opioid epidemic has caused some in the medical community to reconsider the best way to treat pain. Innovators such as Dripfusion have developed Pro-IV infusion therapy to help patients get relief from pain without the use of opioids or steroids. Safe nonaddictive pain management is a positive step in the right direction. Addiction is a physical, emotional and spiritual malady and all three need to be addressed if a successful outcome of long-term recovery is to be achieved.
The current model for treating addiction is costly and ineffective. The cost of a typical 28-day program is between $30,000.00-$100,000.00. Eighty-percent of people relapse within 30-days following treatment and 90% within six months. The reason being once you leave the program you are on your own with little or no support. With such poor results insurers are increasingly denying claims. Lack of quality health insurance, high deductibles and copays keep recovery out of reach for many others. The need has never been greater and the options for help never so limited, until now.
Freedom 365™ is the world’s first interactive Virtual Recovery System™. By embracing technology, it lowers recovery costs, and increases use by providing information in a format consumer enjoy using such as a phone, tablet or PC. Freedom 365™ provides addiction support and recovery strategies anytime, anywhere, on any device whether you choose to attend rehab or not. This 21st Century Virtual Recovery System maintains a framework of connectivity with the user 24-hours a day, 365-days a year for less cost than one day in a traditional rehab center. Freedom 365™ adheres to the highest standards of cyber-security, ensuring user’s personally identifiable information remains protected. Freedom 365™ is HIPAA and FERPA compliant, encrypted and secure.
Every feature in this synergistic system provides alternative and measurable actions that the user will enjoy while avoiding relapse. The Freedom 365 Virtual Recovery System™ contains an early warning screening assessment and an unparalleled 28-day program with a state of-the-art interactive video series. Also included is an integrated daily relapse prevention tool, incorporating “smart,” self-improving technology. Simply type a word or phrase into the search engine, and you’ll receive answers to “all things recovery” allowing users to also cross-reference topics of interest in the library of over 442-videos. The interactive personal action plan, daily goals tool and gratitude library are key features for improving self-esteem. In addition, the progress manager tracks user success and encourages engagement throughout the program. The GPS enabled meeting locater can provide times, locations and directions to 12-step meetings within the geographic area. The unique and “always-on” empowerment button provides dozens of actionable and measurable steps designed to interrupt negative thinking patterns that could possibly lead to relapse the moment they arise.
Full Recovery’s Freedom 365 Virtual Recovery System™ is the ONLY comprehensive technology solution to America’s #1 health problem – substance misuse. This comprehensive program of recovery is like no other. The fully automated early warning assessment screening, 28-day interactive video program, and daily relapse prevention tool is the new paradigm for cost effective, metrics-driven recovery. Our cutting-edge Virtual Recovery System cyber-secured administrative dashboard ensures user compliance data is protected and adheres to the strict HIPAA and FERPA compliance standards, all while remaining accessible anytime, anywhere, 24/7, 365 days a year at a fraction of the cost of traditional 28-day treatment program.
Brian McAlister’s sober date is August 2, 1990. He is now the President and CEO of the Full Recovery Wellness Center and Freedom 365 Virtual Recovery System™. He is also the best-selling author of Full Recovery, The Recovering Person’s Guide to Unleashing Your Inner Power. Brian recently created Freedom 365 to put a full year of 24/7, secure, and private addiction recovery support in the palm of your hand, anywhere, and on any device. His mission is to help others have access to the life-changing and life-saving tools of recovery that he uses every day – even after 28 years in sobriety. Why? Because currently only 4% of people in America who need addiction recovery support get it. Find out more here.