Don’t you hate it when politicians and drug/health policy decision makers declare that an Opioid crisis is a national pubic health emergency that requires our full resources; yet the overdose death toll and damage continues with little if any change? 70,000 or so deaths per year; and in Massachusetts one in four report their lives have been directly changed by an overdose death.
This piece will lay out the path through which you can learn about addiction recovery, and why we have made little progress through using mostly erroneous strategies. It will take time and effort; and better to start sooner than later as the issue affects us all.
The accidental death by multiple drug overdose of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman in 2014 motivated this clinician to try harder to understand addiction recovery. And in the five years since then he has learned more than during the previous twenty-five; primarily through Twitter. The latest research, information, and controversies in how people with substance issues get better; and get worse. How American drug policy and the criminal justice system has made the problem worse. How the long-established belief that there’s only one road to recovery, while helping many, has harmed many. That opioid use disorders require a very different treatment approach including the proven use of long-term medication. That 1 in 4 pts treated with opioid detoxification and discharged without medication relapse the first day; 2 in 3 within 30 days, and 90% within one year (Bailey et al. JSAT 2013). That most drug treatment programs, despite what they promise, do not welcome families into treatment of the patient; thereby assuring lesser outcomes for most.
With the preponderance of mis- and dis-information on addiction in the internet, how can one learn accurate evidence-based facts? That challenge has been simplified by a social media expert, a man supporting the public good. In November Marshall Kirkpatrick @marshallk of Portland, Oregon released a list of the top 500 people and organizations in #OpioidCrisis thought leadership; those most followed by their peers. Out of a total of more than 1500, Marshall used social graph analysis to reveal the top 20, and the top 500 influencers in this space. Going to your Twitter account and checking out some will show you that not everyone is of the same mindset. The only way to learn about this issue is to dig in, follow the leaders whose work resonates with you, and join the conversation. We truly need all hands on deck for this one; we need every one of you.