Original Article of Nothing Changes, If Nothing Changes
Written by Brian McAlister
Warning: Article is a Terrifying Timeline and Pattern of Exploiting Drugs for Money, but at the end there is Silver Lining- Shaun Garber MMH Director
Shaun GarberMMH Director
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 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. In 1857, with their invention of the hypodermic needle the delivery system for morphine was perfected. All that was needed to keep the money flowing, was to convince doctors to keep prescribing it. This effort was helped immensely by the civil war, when over 60,000 people lost limbs. Granted, morphine’s pain
reducing qualities aided battlefield surgeons in their mission to save lives, but the cost was great. What we now know as drug addiction was then known as 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, heroin, as a cure for morphine addiction. 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 profit from selling prescription opiates, OxyContin, Percocet, and the like, then profit from selling another drug such as Subutex (buprenorphine), Suboxone (buprenorphine and naloxone), or methadone and call it a cure or treatment for their customers who acquire substance use disorder. Subutex and Suboxone are opiates.
When used intelligently they can be used short term to lessen withdrawal from other opiates and medical detox from opiates and other addictive substances is recommended. Always consult a physician as long-term use of these drugs has side effects and detoxing from these drugs can be worse than detoxing from heroin. Without long-term behavior modification at the conscious and subconscious level addicts rarely stay the recovery course because the person still has the mind of an addict. This is the same reason addicts who go through medical detox regularly relapse upon release. Medical detox with or without buprenorphine helps with the physical withdrawal from the opiates but unless consistent long-term behavioral modification takes place the chance of long-term recovery is greatly reduced. Back to our opiate history lesson.
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, Perdue 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 Perdue to market OxyContin to be less addictive than Vicodin and Percocet.
Sound familiar? Remember Bayer’s 1897 marketing campaign that heroin was a cure for morphine addiction? Perdue 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. Perdue knew about the risks yet continued to lie about the risks to the medical community and their patients. Perdue has since paid fines of $640 million for their crime, and finally they declared bankruptcy. But that’s just a slap on the wrist. Perdue Pharma has pocketed billions. Due to their greed and unethical behavior Perdue 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 Perdue, now have an estimated net worth of $13 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 some form of an addiction problem.
Doing “MORE” of what’s not working.
Encouraging the use of new or different types of addictive medication is certainly not the long-term solution; after all, that’s how we got into this mess. The current model for treating addiction is costly and unsustainable. The cost of a typical 28-day program is between $30,000.00-$100,000.00. and up to 80% of people attending these programs 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. The need has never been greater and the options for help never so limited… until now.
The My Mental Health Solution
My Mental Health is a nonprofit that provides, at no cost, to everyone in need, immediate access to award-winning Virtual Recovery programs. By embracing technology, we eliminate obstacles such as insurance, copays, and the ability to take time away from work and personal responsibilities. My Mental Health provides addiction, PTSD, lifestyle, and recovery solutions anytime, anywhere, on your phone, tablet, or PC. This 21st Century self-directed interactive Virtual Recovery System maintains a framework of connectivity with the user 24-hours a day. My Mental Health adheres to the highest standards of cyber-security, ensuring user’s personally identifiable information remains protected. My Mental Health is HIPAA and FERPA compliant, encrypted, and secure.
Every feature in this synergistic system provides measurable alternative actions that the user will enjoy while avoiding relapse. The My Mental Health Virtual Recovery System contains early warning screening assessments, 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 500 interactive-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 and other support meetings within the geographic area. The unique and “always-on” crisis alert button provides dozens of actionable and measurable steps designed to interrupt negative thinking patterns that could possibly lead to relapse the moment they arise. Every feature has been designed to offer the user positive worthwhile solutions to life’s challenges and replace the need for highly addictive medication. The time has come for fresh solutions to dealing with pain,
anxiety and depression. We need to stop doing “more” of what obviously is not working.
Nothing changes, if nothing changes.
Help us “DO MORE” of what’s working.
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