Prior to the current pandemic, the news cycle was dominated by the opioid epidemic, a beast that has taken the lives of many people from all walks of life. Recently, the Sackler family’s Purdue Pharma, the maker of Oxycontin, plead guilty to federal criminal charges related to the marketing and selling of opioids. Universities, like NYU, just announced that they are removing the Sackler family name from their campuses. Many other drug companies face serious legal issues. Prior to COVID-19, the opioid crisis was the top public health issue that everyone was talking about. National, state and local governments were desperate to find ways to address it. It was a top election issue in 2016. Since COVID-19, the opioid epidemic has been removed from the spotlight…, but it has not gone away. In fact, it’s gotten significantly worse. We just aren’t talking about it as much. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, it makes me wonder: How bad is the opioid epidemic going to get?
In this episode of my Causes or Cures podcast, I chat with Dr. John Kelly about the current state of the opioid epidemic. Dr. Kelly will identify who is getting hit the hardest, why the epidemic is getting worse, overdose deaths, why stress and isolation affect a person struggling with opioids more than a person who is not, and if someone is in recovery, when is the most critical time period he or she is most likely to relapse. ( I found the latter part the most interesting. It can be especially helpful if you or someone you know is struggling with opiods.) He will also discuss changes to treatment, telemedicine, digital Apps and what he thinks is the best path forward for putting a major dent in this public health crisis.
Dr. Kelly is a Professor of Psychiatry in Addiction Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He is the Founder and Director of the Recovery Research Institute at the Massachusetts General Hospital, the Associate Director of the Center for Addiction Medicine, and the Program Director of the Addiction Recovery Management Service. He is a former President of the American Psychological Association’s Society of Addiction Psychology and has served as a consultant to U.S. federal agencies and non-federal institutions, as well as foreign governments and the United Nations. He has published over 200 peer-reviewed articles, reviews, chapters and books in the field of addiction medicine. Finally, he was the author on the U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health.
To listen to this episode, please click here
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