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Why The Addiction Crisis Rages On

the addiction gene roars like a torando

Opinion

Why The Addiction Crisis Rages On

Why The Addiction Crisis Rages On

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More people are aware of the opioid crisis; this is hardly surprising. With people dropping dead in the US at the rate of 112 a day, you’d have to be on Mars not to be aware of this serious public health problem. But this awareness is NOT accompanied with solutions that work.

The Surgeon General's Answer: Stock Narcan

Imagine 112 people dropping dead a day of say, Legionaires Disease.  The Surgeon General would not suddenly (after decades of escalation) advise the public to carry a nasal spray antibiotic around with them. There would be solutions in place, not twenty years after the onset, but immediately.

Say Mom has a heroin addict in her home. She’s supposed to know how to resuscitate him in the case of an overdose. Unfortunately, no one has taught her how to prevent his disease or how to treat him after resuscitating him. What can a parent, spouse, or loved one do for a chronic relapsing brain disease that tells the sufferer he doesn’t have a disease? He will certainly overdose again.

If you have a deadly disease, and there is an antidote that works only to resuscitate but not to cure, how will that help anyone?

Seriously, where are treatment solutions? Where’s the public education?

Addiction Isn't New

Seven years ago when ROR was founded, addiction was the number one health issue in America. It was a killer everyone hated. There were plenty of news reports and documentaries showing what addiction looks like, but no education about the benefits of recovery, or how recovery for families, workplaces, and communities might be achieved. There was little to inform parents how to spot problems in teens, or how to deal with substance use as a family, or school system. A few years ago people were dying at lower rate, but still dying. Hundreds in some communities. Young people. Teens.

It wasn’t until the bodies started literally piling up in the streets that the alarm bell was sounded, and solutions like carrying Narcan have been suggested. NIH just pledged $1.3 billion for research, but there’s still no education about prevention or recovery for families suffering right now.

The Real Issue Is Bigger Than The Opioid Crisis

Fundamentally, humans are addicted to a wide variety of substances, both legal and illegal. Each year, alcohol, for example, causes more health issues, hospitalizations, lost productivity, destroyed families, and deaths (more than 5 million worldwide according to WHO) than opioids.

Alcohol is overlooked as a killer because it’s a legal, “fun” intoxicant with a powerful lobby and a long, checkered history. After prohibition was lifted, alcohol reigned as party emperor. There's no widespread information about the family disease of Alcohol Use Disorder (alcoholism) or its impact on children in the home. Meth is still out there; cocaine is still out there; and designer drugs of all kinds are still out there. Even worse, no one  understands how to teach this to children or parents. Why can't the public be informed?

Nearly every parent coping with addiction in the US today is as clueless, helpless and hopeless as I was twenty years ago.

The fact that we haven't, as a nation, begun directly teaching people how to cope with substance use is a national scandal of epic proportions. It's an epidemic that WE literally let it happen.

I don't know any college president or middle school superintendent who is passionate about dealing with the alcohol and drug problems on their campuses. Students are taught to be silent.

Have Humans Developed An Addiction Gene?

Humans have been using intoxicants to feel better since the beginning of time. Intoxicants include:

  • Sugar
  • Caffeine
  • Nicotine
  • Alcohol
  • Naturally occurring opiates (morphine and heroin)
  • Stimulants (cocaine, Qat, Ephedra)
  • Hallucinogens (mushrooms, cannabis)
  • Hundreds of synthetic drugs.

People have used alcohol, opium, tea, coffee, chocolate, cannabis, sugar, and other naturally occurring substances throughout history, but the level of intoxicant use in the last hundred years has turned the love of feeling better into a worldwide epidemic. It feels like everybody is hooked on something. Because addiction is so widespread affecting so many millions of people, we have to ask,

Have humans developed an addiction gene?

Doctors prescribe more drugs for every complaint imaginable, and every day scientists design even more powerful intoxicants. We need a solution that heals the problem, not the symptoms or drug de jour.

Education Is The Only Solution

We are in the dark ages when it comes to dealing with substance use disorder. If you don't train and teach:

  • Teens
  • Parents
  • Doctors
  • Nurses
  • College presidents
  • Children

...about substances and their impact on the human brain, body, emotions, and relationships, then addiction will continue to proliferate and destroy everyone it touches.


Opioid Overdose PosterHanging this easy to follow poster in your break-room is one of the easiest things you can do to introduce workplace safety and recovery to your employees. Your small investment can save you thousands and who knows how many lives. Order yours today.

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Leslie Glass is the founder of Reach Out Recovery and the winner of the 2016 ASAM Media Award. Leslie is also the creator of Recovery Guidance, the information website for those seeking addiction and mental healthcare for professionals nationwide. Leslie is a journalist, director/producer of award-winning documentaries, and the author of 15 bestselling novels. Leslie has served as Chairman of the Board of Plays For Living, was a member of the Board of Directors of Mystery Writers of America. She has served as a Public Member of the Middle States Commission of Higher Education, as a VP of The Asolo Theatre, and was a Trustee of the New York City Police Foundation.

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