Phillip Seymour Hoffman, the widely admired and award winning actor, died recently from a drug overdose. That got a lot of publicity and millions of people asked themselves how such a thing could happen to someone like that. Meanwhile, on that same day if it was average, 99 other people died in the same way without the public taking notice, or seeming to care. Overdose is the largest single cause of accidental death in America — beating out car crashes for that “honor.”

Here is an article from the Washington Post, a lengthy interview with a prominent psychiatrist and leading researcher in the field of addiction. There is much of interest in the article. An example, when the interviewer asks about private detox facilities, the response is scathing:

It’s such a horrible promise to hold out to desperate people and their families. By the way, those programs are usually cash-pay only. They promise to take away your addiction in two weeks but what they really take is your money….Some [very wealthy people] are checking into rehabs that don’t seem much different than luxury hotels. I suspect, actually, that you might get better care being a working class veteran, or someone who happens to live near a primary care doctor who has trained him or herself using buprenorphine than you would being a rich and famous person in that luxury tier of care.

The article is filled with much information and insight. See it Here.

 

4 Comments

  1. George urdo on March 17, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    Craig,
    That’s very selective, more so when it is a well known problem that many people both abuse and become addicted too prescription drugs which kill via overdose and/or suicide, unlike cannabinoids. I was addicted to psychiatric drugs many years ago and have to listen constantly to them being promoted in a positive light in Lifering. I did not like hearing others give high praise to suspect medicines which are now highly implicated in many deaths by way of suicide and accidental overdose. This has only served to motivate me to investigate more deeply, and, to be honest, the more I read the more horrified I am. It is not for me to moralise what substances folk should or should not imbibe, or to decide what they should or should not hear, if presented in a civil and engaging fashion. Nor is it my place to hide behind a veil of dubious legality to justify my own prejudices. When a human being in California can take cannabinoids to help with pain but a person in Texas cannot because or arcane and highly dubious laws then be denied a chance to talk about what benefits them, something has gone very awry. I am no self attributed arbitrator of what substances people should or should not use, I would simply like two sides of the situation to be heard .. and rightly so, given the very real possibility of death the prescription drugs and the non lethal substitute available in some cases. Cannabinoids are very, very easy to access on the streets and no clinics have been required for many years if one would like to purchase the drug. What clinics do is to allow the product to be regulated more safely and the dosage standardised. I, for one, am no Calvinist. There is no drug in the world that has ever been made SAFER by handing its manufacture, production and distribution into the hands of gangsters/criminals.
    So, I take it that Lifering’s position on this is that if one does not wish to consume opioids and prefers the safer option of cannabinoids to deal with chronic pain but lives in Texas where the enlightened governing body legislates cannabinoids as illegal, then they will not be welcomed into Lifering as sober? I’m sorry, Craig, but this seems madness to me, bureaucracy gone mad, where well motivated but ill people are demeaned because of a choice which makes them safer. The justification being that a few folk might get upset with someone talking about a non lethal substance which is beneficial to their health. I’ve often been labelled a cynic but this certainly sounds like there might be a commercial aspect to this as that is the only thing that seems to makes sense to me … sponsorship. And please, you state “wonderful benefits” but I simply related my experience and a piece of factual history. Your use of words is highly enlightening. I have continually asserted that all I wished to do was to talk about my experiences honestly, be it with cannabinoids, alcohol, mental health issues, relationship problems and whatever else. However, it does appear that I have made some folk insecure and this contradictory piece of thinking on your part is the result. Have you never acknowledged the great benefits that some folk get from using cannabinoids in place of opioids and the fact they can avoid the chance of being ensnared by these very dangerous substances? Have you, can you, balance the arguments i.e. a little upset versus the very real possibility of death and physical addiction/dependence? James Cameron, a famous British investigative journalist once said, “It was early in my youth as a cub reporter that I realised the FACTS should never get in the way of the truth.” It is as pertinent today as it was then. Protecting people from polite, civil and sincere debate isn’t recovery, it’s the old closed mind associated with substance abuse manifesting itself in recovery. People should be treated like adults, presented with the facts, and allowed to decide for themselves. Have a nice day.



  2. George Murdo on March 16, 2014 at 12:26 am

    A quick search of the Internet reveals that deaths from prescription drugs outstrips those from illegal substances, with many of the prescription drugs associated with pain relief. Strangely enough there is one known and well tested substance which is used for pain relief that has no fatalities associated with their use .. cannabinoids. I used to frequent a chat room where I tried to discuss this issue but was silenced under threat of exclusion as it is still “illegal” in some States and countries. Cannabinoids were originally outlawed after a campaign by the Dupont Corporation as the hemp produced was a competitor to the new synthetic fibres Dupont was now trying to market. The idea stuck in the public mind … in some ways similar to lSD and MDA and their demonization in the field of mental health .. thus making funds to research the very positive results these non fatal substances have produced, very scarce on the ground. Some headway has been made in this area in recent years. Even under the banner of harm reduction it is hard to see why cannabinoids are not used universally as a pain reliever, given their safety status. Sure, they can be abused, like opioids, benzodiazepines etc, but, as I have stated, with non fatal consequences. It appears that some very powerful forces are against their legalisation and medical use for a variety of reasons, that of finances, conformity and status, while many continue to die needlessly. I also find it strange that members of the medical profession can assume semi-deity status while prescribing dangerous, addictive substances while members of the public providing non lethal cannabinoids can be imprisoned for lengthy periods…. and even talking about it can get one excluded from public communication forums by those who seem to pay little heed to the facts involved. I say all this in light of having used both opioids and cannabinoids for pain and thus being in a position to judge the efficacy and safety of both types of substance. Maybe it’s time to look at the history and vested interests of both drugs and lobby for a new policy as the whole area is now beginning to look both counter intuitive and a little bizarre. It would reduce the drug overdose rate anyhow, that’s for sure.



    • Craig W on March 17, 2014 at 9:38 am

      George,
      The reason LifeRing discourages talk about the benefits of legitimate use of medical marijuana is the problem of legitimacy — in California at least, recreational and addicted users of marijuana find it far too easy to obtain prescriptions for marijuana using bogus pain complaints. Indeed, it would be hard to find anyone who would argue with the assertion that “Medical Marijuana” is simply a backdoor way of legalizing recreational use. Many of our meetings include people who are dealing with marijuana addiction — they do not need to come to a recovery support meeting and hear from someone about the wonderful benefits of marijuana, either as medicine or a source of hemp.
      — Craig Whalley



  3. Bobbi C. on March 4, 2014 at 12:05 am

    Great information, Craig! The statistics this guy recounts are just staggering – the OD rate has doubled?! Now the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S.?! Yipes. It’s also interesting that there’s so much polysubstance abuse going on nowadays, as well, as was the case with PSH.