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tv   Prescription Addiction Made in the USA  CNN  May 11, 2016 6:00pm-7:01pm PDT

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welcome to the 360 town hall prescription addiction made in the usa. here to talk about an epidemic that kills 78 americans every day. one death every 19 minutes from opioid overdose. we don't know if it was a prescription drug problem that killed prince. according to a source, opioid pills were found with his body. as we reported in the last hour, the investigation includes a doctor that saw him twice in the weeks before his death, went to his home in paisley park on the day the singer died. those facts, spare as they are, raise crucial questions. life and death ones that are
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becoming all too common. the last 15 years have seen an explosion of addiction, overdoses and death for prescription pain pills in america. >> medical at paisley park. person down not breathing. >> this drug called opioids reportedly on prince. have driven overdose deaths to the highest rate in our nation's history. the epidemic is uniquely american. the u.s. makes up 5% of the global population, but consumes 80% of the world's opioids. so how did we get here? the late 1990s, a push in the medical community to better manage pain led to laws passed making it easier to prescribe pain pills. coupled with that, aggressive marketing. some pharmaceutical companies directed to doctors to prescribe their drugs. in years since, a frightening pattern emerged.
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sales of prescription opioids quadruple. what else quadrupled? deaths from overdoses of the same drugs. and the rise of pain pills has lead many to cheaper and dead leer opioids. her oh in and black market fenton i will. 2 million abuse medication. every day a thousand go to the er misusing medication. every day, 78 people die overdosing on opioids. i want to welcome all of the people here in the audience tonight, to those of you watching on cnn and people around the world tuning in on cnn international. our goal tonight is to dig into what's going on with prescription opioids in this country, pain pills. you've heard some statistics, they're important. but tonight we want you to hear from people behind the numbers, the real lives that have been lost and forever changed. we want you to hear the voices, see the faces of what this
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crisis looks like. we will talk to experts on the frontlines of this, each in their own way, joined on stage by dr. sanjay gupta. for the first part of the program, lee and a win from baltimore, maryland, and er physician, she declared this a public health emergency. i want to thank you for being with us. sanjay, have we ever seen anything like this in the united states? >> i don't think we've seen anything quite like this. this is a public health epidemic. but it is completely man-made. it is a manufactured epidemic. this is man-made. completely by us. it has been preventable all along. we've known the problem was festering for decades now, and we've even had solutions over time, but now it is the number one cause of preventable death in america today. >> so much of it is prescribed initially by doctors, then spirals out of control. why are they so addictive?
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>> what's interesting, it has to do with the way these effect your brain. when you take these types of medications, opiates, keep in mind your body is already making opiates, endorphins. when you start to take pills, for example, you will shut off your body's own supply. your body says i don't need to make it any more. you see how chemicals are coming in, flooding receptors there. after awhile, receptors get sort of blunted and want more and more for the same effect. what's interesting, if you stop taking the pills, no more opiates in your body, and your body hasn't been making any of its own, so you crash. you feel awful, sick, nauseated. what do you want? more pills. but you want them not to get high, just to feel normal again. so that's what dependence is like. >> we have people in the audience with personal experience. i want you to meet them and
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they'll be asking questions. meet jennifer toy. mother of a recovering addict. her son became addicted to opioids. a doctor prescribed 180 vicodin pills, that led to heroin and opioid addiction. she has a question for the doctor. >> how can we get doctors and hospitals to stop overprescribing these addictive drugs? >> 180 pills for one injury is not acceptable. this is a problem by drug companies, also a problem by doctors as well. and doctors have to own the problem. and we have to be careful ourselves about prescribing medications. there are new federal guidelines issued by centers for disease control and prevention that doctors have to follow. we're starting in medical schools. we have to get all doctors to follow these guidelines. but we also have to get patients
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involved, too. i urge for all patients to ask your doctor every time, do i need this medication. what are the side effects. what are the alternatives. there's a culture of excess. you see this, dr. gupta, not just what doctors are doing. >> the doctor at the end said do you want 30 percocet or 90? i am like i don't know that i should be determining this. i went for 30, as soon as i took it, i wished i took 90, glad i didn't. god knows what would have happened. the guidelines we talked about, the cdc, my understanding is they just put these out this year. why is it taking so long? >> this is medical culture. it has taken so long because of all of the marketing by drug companies. i feel badly now, i am an emergency physician, i prescribed so many opioids
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without thinking about what that could be doing to them in terms of causing overdose stats, in terms of causing them to be addicted. i wish i could take it back. that's why we have to start with doctors and patients working together to stop the culture of excess. >> sanjay, has the medical just been far behind on this? >> i think they have been far behind, lots of different reasons why. what i think is amazing is that much of this started 30 years ago in 1986 with a single paper, small paper of 38 patients. and that paper before that time, people were more judicious about using opiates, after that paper, the belief was that you could describe them, risk of addiction and overdose was low. i think that's what dr. wen, myself, dr. drew pin ski is here, we learned that there was no perceived harm. insurance companies loved it, it was cheaper to get a pill than do physical therapy and other
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things. pharmaceutical companies liked it, they're selling more pills, and they bought into this. much of the blame is on our shoulders. >> talking about limits. meet somebody else for whom at one point there were no limits. ray lucas is a former quarterback taking up to 1400 opioid pills a month. is that right? >> that's correct. started from a football injury, didn't have insurance. 300 turns into 600. before i knew it, 1400 pills a month, doing tv, doing the jets stuff. i was a functioning addict. >> you could function. >> day before i went on tv, i would stop taking the pills. do the show. as soon as the producer said five, four, the pain would rush back. i would go downstairs, take 15 pills right away. before i got in the truck to go home. i only live in jersey, coming from new york, i would take 15 more. at my worst, i had taken 80 a
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day, 40 a day. this was my life. and the funniest thing, i won that year, in reality, this is what i did. bankrupt my family, put my wife and kids through hell. i tell my story, i'm not ashamed. i think opiates changed the face of what people think are addicts. i am an 8 year nfl player, graduated rutgers, but i am an add ilkt. >> even though you're not using. >> absolutely. i don't wear it like i am supposed to be ashamed of it, i survived, i overcame my addiction, i tell my story so people know out there they can overcome it. >> it is incredible, people don't think of a functioning addict. >> ray, good to see you. you look well. you agree you probably had windows where you were functioning. >> like i said, day before, stop taking pills. as soon as the show was over, next three days, 40, 50 a day
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easy. >> the rest of the time there's denial, probably hiding of pills. >> funniest thing with me, i walked past the mirror, we liked to look sexy. i couldn't shave. the guy i looked at in the mirror wasn't the guy i knew. functioning. but lot of times i would be nasty. not want to shower. couldn't walk past the mirror. >> interesting term, functioning addict. so much of the time is spent thinking about pills. wake up in the morning, thinking about pills. go to bed at night, thinking about pills. >> and you need more and more. >> you need more and more. they don't give you the same effect they used to. and it is not at some point about getting high any more, it is about not feeling awful. >> immediate marine and her son. jessie's experimental drug use resulted in loss of oxygen to his brain, two cardiac arrest,
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irreversible brain damage, can't walk, eat by himself or talk. thank you for being with us. >> thank you to cnn for giving us a voice. to save a child is to save a family. this is beyond anything, the pain of people i have spoken to is beyond anything we can imagine. my question is at 16 he began to experiment with opioids with friends. he remained a clean cut, all american boy doing his activities. his gpa was high. so what are we missing is my first question. and secondly, is it inevitable that you become an addict if you experiment with opioids. >> great question. >> yeah. i'm really sorry for everything. i have three kids myself. you think about it all the time when you're parents. i don't think you missed anything. i am sure you think about that, question that. these are things that can be easy to miss because opiate
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addiction and misuse is not always obvious. and the developing brain, brain that's not fully developed is more at risk of developing a habit of misuse or abuse. 16 years old, obviously pretty young. it is hard to know what percentage of people become addicts. depends on a lot of things, biology, environment, what age you start to take pills. the best studies show 25 to 27% of people that take these could become addicts. in terms of how long it takes to become an addict, you know, within five to seven days, people can have withdrawal symptoms. >> five to seven days. which if you're prescribed it, you're prescribed it more than five to seven days. >> you have whatever number of percocet, and new guidelines from the cdc say just a few days after an operation or trauma. >> you've seen that. >> right. that's why it is important to start slow and start from the lowest amount possible, not to
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give 180 pills, but start with the lowest amount. >> traditionally is it easier for doctors, i don't want to sound like i'm just going after doctors, but to just kind of write a prescription, move on to other patients you have to deal with? >> that's part of it, but part of the expectation of the patient. you fall down, bruise the knee, you might have pain, but you don't need opioids. they're in the same class of drugs as heroin, which are incredibly addictive. that's why in baltimore we've said we know that opioids are killing people, that there are more people dying from overdose than homicide. we made our antidote medication available to every resident in the city, we believe it is a life and death issue, and everyone needs to be able to save a life. >> the next woman is here, her son started to use opioids in college, that led to heroin. she has a question. >> dr. wen, why is america
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afflicted with the opioid epidemic so disproportionately to the rest of the world. >> true. when you see the numbers, 5% of the population -- >> you wonder, are americans in that much pain that we need to consume that many more opioids. there is a problem we have in this country where we do expect a solution. i go to schools in my city, i ask high school students do you think heroin is good or bad. of course they say it is bad. if i ask them are prescription painkillers good or bad, they won't know the answer. they see their parents and care givers taking antianxiety pills every time they have an issue. then they get prescribed a medication every time they're acting up in class. we have a culture of giving a pill for every problem. this culture of a quick fix. that's something we have to change. >> where was the fda in all this? >> the fda is in a tricky spot.
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one hand, they're constantly pushed to give more drugs. oxycontin, and on one hand they say we need to provide more options to people. on the other hand, they admit they have been acting slowly. they're starting to do things now, put black box warnings on medications. as you mentioned earlier, that's just recently. another thing i want to mention about this culture of consumption, this statistic blew me away. 91% of people that overdose and survive are given another prescription for those opiates typically by the same doctor that gave it to them in the first place. we're not only making progress in that regard, we're turning a blind eye to the tragedy. >> tracy bud lost her son to overdose, became addicted
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following a football shoulder injury. her daughter has also struggled with opioid addiction, two years clean as of five days ago. we've heard so many stories of kids being overprescribed. you talked oxycodone for kids. tracy has a question. >> dr. wen, i was wondering how you think opioid prescriptions should differ for adolescents and adults. >> tricky question. this is why medicine is both an art and science. there's no one size fits all solution. we have to tailor treatment to each person, depending on their age, depending what it is they have. if an adolescent were in a bad car accident, they might need opioids, i want to clarify that there are appropriate usages of opened medication. doctors for the vast majority of doctors want to do the right thing, are horrified like myself
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by their own practices. i believe the guidelines should be stronger in saying we should be very careful about prescribing opioids and also getting narcan, the anti-medication available to every person who is at risk, that could be everyone. >> i read the statistic, i was blown away by it. 2014, 168,000 kids age 12 to 17 had an addiction to prescription pills. >> it's remarkable statistic. they're getting them all sorts of ways. legitimate reasons, could be legitimate pain that warrants that prescription for a short time. a lot of times they're getting it through a process known as diversion, from other people's prescriptions, their parents or friends or friends' parents, whoever it may be. because it is a prescription medication, i think the level of awareness, level of concern has been lower than it should be. you think this isn't heroin, not cocaine, how bad could it be. we're now seeing it.
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>> we're going to take a quick break. doctors deeply divided over whether to prescribe powerful pain pills, somewhat strict limits. other argue limits aren't fair for those with chronic conditions. prescription addiction made in the usa continues.
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welcome back. death from opioid overdoses have gone up 200% since the year 2000. it is a sobering statistic. an epidemic that sanjay points out is completely man-made. on one side are people that say look, we need serious limits on opioids, others say they need these to live a normal life to
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deal with chronic pain. dr. mark rosenberg, dr. drew penske, his is the first er in the country to implement a policy when patients come in with pain they're not immediately offered opioids. what reaction do you get from people when you essentially try to steer them another direction. >> you know, i think it all started out, i am a doctor to take care of pain and suffering. for most doctors when they would open the tool box, the medicine kit to see what medicines are available. opioids are the primary drug there. it added new medication, new treatment into the tool box, medicine box. >> there are other options. >> there are other options. when patients come to the emergency department, we have several patients that come in who are already addicted or have been addicted to openeds or
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heroin, they come specifically to the emergency department because they know they won't have to get treated with opioids and heroin. i have a story about a young man came in with back pain, kidney stone. came specifically to saint joe's because he knew he would get alternative treatmnt in getting opioids. >> drew, you have been counseling people, have you ever, in terms of how do opioids compare to other drugs in terms of a hold. >> highest recidivism, hardest to treat, it is a horrible drug to treat. easily addictive. and it is something we have been dealing with. i have been calling prescription drugs a tsunami, saw it coming ten years ago. spent the majority of my clinical life the last three to five years taking people off opiates for chronic pain. you ask them what the pain is, 18 out of 10, never 9 out of 10.
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take them off. withdrawal is awful. most doctors haven't seen them go through it. it is not that bad. week or two later, only talk about pain when provoked, and say four or five. just taken off opiates. there's not good science says opiates are effective for chronic pain. they're effective foray cute pain, but there are alternatives. there's no evidence they're useful. not saying they should be taken away from people for whom it is working. science is there. it is like saying i have a blood pressure medication, doesn't work. let's figure it out. are you kidding? it works for some people, they should get it, shouldn't be taking it away, dictating clinical practice. >> some people worsen pain if they take it. >> hyperal geez i can. >> i want you to meet kay sanford, in pain for decades, on prescription pain meds since the
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1990s. >> thank you very much. i've been on daily opioids that have given me a full and productive life for the last 25 years and i'm very careful. i have never misused or abused my medication. i am fully aware there are many alternative, nonopioid things i can do, which i do. i walk a mile and a half with my girlfriends three days a week. i swim. i pay out of pocket for massages two or three times a month. you know, i'm trying to do it right. and yet what i know is that there are many patients like me maybe thousands, tens of thousands. who have tried to do everything
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right. >> what do you say to patients like this? >> i would say good, fantastic. this is a situation no one would dream of interfering with her treatment, but that's a tiny minority. >> how is it that she's able to not -- >> everyone is different, how they respond to medication, what potential is. there's another piece of the story, adverse childhood experiences that increase risk for people pursuing opioids. we have an epidemic of that, too. this pill epidemic may be related to that. i want to say one more thing. we talk about opioid overdose, a lot to be said. remember most that die from ambien. now that i know you love percocet. >> i had a legitimate cause and i stopped. >> just saying. the point being that it is
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classified together to be fatal. it is bizarre they routine them together. >> what do you say? >> we know opioids are good, they're powerful medications, when used correctly have a great role. like to tell a quick story. have a patient of mine a 56-year-old woman with cancer that spread throughout her body. i got a call from her daughter who wanted to tell me her mom is not doing very well. she was having a lot more pain. i wanted to make sure she was taking the opioids appropriately. the answer was no, she's afraid to give them to her. look what happened to prince. as a result, she's suffering. opioids have a real role in management of pain. but sometimes you're able to prescribe alternative therapies will do or sometimes better. i'm happy you're doing massage therapy. that's an alternative therapy that can help you deal with pain
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better. hats off to you. >> there are wonderful alternatives. i had acupuncture which is wonderful. i think one of the key things we can do as patients and physicians is work together more carefully and closely. >> sounds like good advice. >> education, communication. >> i want everyone to meet joe. he has been on the program before, a recovering addict, accomplished gymnast, he was in cirque de soleil. he was in the hospital after surgery, administered opioids even though on your medical chart it said you should not get them, right? >> yeah. on my chart that i signed it said no opiates, seven years clean. as i was waking up, the nurse game me fentanyl without my permission, i was kind of asleep. and immediately felt incredible and triggered that desire, obsession to use more, to keep
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that high and not tell anyone about it. luckily i have a strong program, i didn't relapse, but i had that obsession for many months after. >> usually when my patients are reexposed, sometimes they have to, the obsession minimum two weeks to seven months, you have to plan for that in the program. you made a lot of withdrawal symptoms, the wanting, obsession, obfuscating, the disease process is activated. that's not about withdrawal, that's about the pursuit, the high. >> how does somebody like joe face something like surgery without having access to opioids. >> there are some real strategies, and it takes planning, which joe tried to do. he was diligent about informing doctors about this, said i don't want to take these medications. but for example, shoulder surgery, giving nerve blocks ahead of time, medications that not only help before the surgery and then during the surgery, but last for quite a bit of time after the operation is over as well. that can help get through that
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more acute period, giving anti-inflammatories. but another thing, one of the things i find amazing, anderson, there's been no studies looking at long term effects of opioids, as much as you talk about people taking them chronically, there aren't studies to look at what happens to the body. lawrence epstein is here from new york city and can speak to that. do you know why aren't these studies out there. and difficult to do, very omplex expensive. pharmaceutical companies won't pay for them, frankly medications are approved and have a market. nonfunded researchers can't afford to do it. and there's an ethical issue trying to study, give treatment to patients that we already have good data, there's incredible risk. little belief we will have different answers than the conclusions we have come to, minimal efficacy in long term
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use. >> i want to introduce kim, a recovering addict, runs a youth substance abuse program. has a question for one of the doctors. >> thank you, anderson. as we well know addiction is not just limited to pills and opiates, as the national conversation continues about the legalization of marijuana, are there any studies that suggest that early marijuana use can potentially be a gateway drug for opiate addiction. >> you looked into this a lot, sanjay. >> there's a lot of studies around this. a lot of people looked at this. for a long time there was concern is this a true scientific gateway, is marijuana a gateway. we know there are a lot of people that start with things like marijuana, move on to heroin, cocaine. even earlier than marijuana, may start with alcohol or smoking. in that regard, smoking or alcohol could be considered the gateway. the real question is does marijuana change your brain or prime your brain in a way that
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you then need to have, crave something else, like heroin or cocaine, and the answer to that seems to be no. that's a myth. it is a myth that's been propagated a long time, the idea that you take marijuana awhile, now you need something more powerful. scientifically doesn't hold up. >> dr. drew, do you agree? >> when i treated marijuana addicts that are really into pot, the problem is it wanes over time. they try to substitute. it is a substitution, not a gateway. >> that's somebody already. >> addicted to marijuana. small population get addicted. when they do it can be rough. >> i want you to meet terry kroll, his son overdosed on opioids, a doctor was selling them for cash. he reported the doctor to the authorities, timothy died a few months later. the doctor was arrested. she made it her mission to seek justice. attended the trial every day. only sentenced to six months in
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jail. thank you for being with us. i'm so sorry for what you've been through. >> thank you very much. i appreciate that. dr. drew, i would like to know how do we make doctors who are responsible for these prescriptions more accountable. >> programs like this, i guess. i know the dea is active in that. all of us, physicians and patients alike, if we take opiate or benzodiazepine for two weeks, there better be a very good reason. has to be done patient to doctor, understanding it is a high risk intervention, to go longer, better be a good reason and do it together. really, these are designed f for acute intervention. going more than two weeks, doctor and patient better be looking at it hard. >> i believe that we need to really look at physicians who
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are prescribing large quantity of drugs. >> and selling the drugs for cash. that's a huge problem. >> we need to come up with ways to prosecute these physicians and to monitor them and to go after them. this is not what physicians are supposed to be doing. you're supposed to be relieving pain and suffering. and this is criminal. this needs to be legislated and managed. >> bridget brennan is here. she's special narcotics prosecutor in new york city, attacking prescription addiction at the source, doctors who overprescribe the drugs. her office successfully prosecuted one doctor for manslaughter after 16 of his patients died from overdoses. thank you so much for what you're doing and for being here. >> we started looking at this when we found doctors who were acting like drug dealers. they were literally exchanging prescriptions for cash and the pills, addictive pills were
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flooding street corner markets. we found there was really little effective regulatory agencies that were looking at it. they didn't seem to have much impact. and it was a public safety crisis. >> i always thought the dea must be monitoring how many prescriptions a doctor writes. >> the dea might be monitoring it, but that's not the end of the story. we found dozens of patients were dying and really when we did the investigations, we would find letters from the health department in the files warning the doctor. but the warnings had no effect. when we saw nothing else was having impact as prosecutors, we were sort of the last line of defense and we stepped in. >> there are three ways we can address some of the issues. one is we have to decrease the pills on the street. there are several states like
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washington state and massachusetts who have information exchanges, it is exchanged through emergency departments who prescribe 4.7% of openeds, 17% of patients from the emergency department get a prescription. we need to legislate the pill mills and those types of things that are creating this problem more and more. we have a real opportunity out there to make a change. it really needs to start with keeping the pill countdown, legislating against it, and having take back programs. where can you take back medication if you used all you need, where can you take it. many of the police stations you can take it back to. it should be the pharmacy where it is easy to bring medication. >> i'm curious as well, bridget, this case seems like an obvious example. in a lot of cases, doctors think they're doing right by their
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patients, that's where it gets thorny, right? i don't think they intend for patients to overdose. when does it rise to the level of being criminal? >> when it rises to the level of being so egregious. for example, in the case we prosecuted, the manslaughter case, a doctor was literally exchanging prescriptions for cash. he had signs all over his office, cash only. and it would go up depending on milligrams. he would be called from the emergency room, told a patient had overdosed. the patient would come back, get a higher opioid prescription. and so it was egregious. far beyond mere negligence or bad judgment. it was far, far beyond that. and he is not the only doctor we prosecuted. we've seen it happen. it is an easy way to make money for some doctors that are really just drug dealers masquerading,
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that's not most of the doctors. >> obviously again unscrupulous behavior. there's a lot of doctors in between who aren't necessarily taking money but have exercised poor judgment, who have not done right by their patients because they're handing out pills. >> the generation was raised under the cradle that pain is what it is. patients that come in and picks drug off a menu, they said that's what controlled them. there was a discipline, professional discipline that had that at its core, there's a generation still infected by that. the criminals aren't creating 80% of the world's opioids on the continent, it is the rest of us. >> the undercurrent as you and i learned, we were in medical school, this wasn't a problem. you can give the medications, people weren't going to get addicted, weren't going to overdose, give as much as you needed to give. >> i screamed about it for a long time. people said i was cruel.
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we heard some deeply personal stories about the toll of opioid addiction, lives shattered, man-made epidemic. dr. sanjay gupta says it will kill more americans. we will shift the conversation to look at solutions. a little about narcan or mal objection own. >> which was prescribed in
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baltimore for those that need it. antidote for opioid overdoses. can you show people how it worked? >> yeah. it can reverse someone in the throws of an overdose. we got footage to show it in progress. what you're watching is shocking. a heroin addict named liz overdoses. that night she's with two friends that volunteer with the program in greensboro, north carolina that provides addicts with clean needles and mal objection own. >> gave her 60 units of narcan. >> it can reverse overdose from heroin and other drugs like oxycodone. another shot of narcan. and finally liz begins to come
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around. >> she wasn't breathing, she was in the throws of overdose. the advice is call 911, then you can administer narcan, it can reverse it. that was an injection. they have nasal sprays. this is it here. even if someone is not breathing, put it in their nose and go ahead and spray. and that's the medication that comes out. within a couple of minutes can reverse an overdose. this as dr. wen talked about earlier is a life saver. >> this is what she suggested for everybody in baltimore. >> get a standing prescription for it in baltimore. here in new york, you can buy it over the counter. you can buy this, have it in case someone is in middle of an overdose, you can give it. >> anyone that needs it in baltimore, and also in boston ton, massachusetts, leonard cam upon he will oh, the police chief, wrote the old war on drugs is lost and over. started a first of its kind program where the police
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department is steering addicts to treatment instead of jail. add ilkts can walk in with illegal opioids, hand them over, say i need help and get it. chief, appreciate you joining us. what made you turn around and start this project. >> i think it was community response, first of all. we heard loud and clear from the community, they didn't want their addicted people in the community to be further stigma advertised by incarceration, they wanted law enforcement to help. that's one of the things that's overwhelming, the self stigmatization that makes people stay in the shadows. in law enforcement, being on the front lines, we have a powerful voice to legitimize the fact that addiction is a disease. the war on drugs is a war against addiction. the people that are laughing are people laughing all the way to the bank. the deal is from street level to
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pharmaceutical company. >> i went in chicago to a county jail, it was full of people who had heroin addiction, some form of opiate addiction. if they had been able to break that cycle earlier, wouldn't have been in and out of jail as long as they have. >> crimes that a person commits are crimes are desperation to feed their addiction. it is no different than any other disease pathology, cancer, diabetes, long term disease. where it intersects law enforcement is the fact it is an illegal drug feeding this disease, crimes are committed because of it. >> i want you to meet someone i met in 1996, rick hurt spent decades studying effects of narcotics in america. middle aged white people, found since the beginning of the epidemic, this group is dying at a higher rate. why is it hitting this group so hard? >> i think you hit on that
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earlier, anderson, when you talked about the degree to which the pharmaceutical companies are promoting use of opiate products for pain relief. >> directly to doctors. >> yes. that's i think responsible for a lot of increase among 40 and 50-year-olds, people that have begun to get treated for pain related jobs, minor pain, they should have 3 or 4 days of prescription and get the 90 pills that you got. something that's been missed, the pain that the people -- pain relief they're getting from the pills, certainly treats the physical manifestations of pain, but they have other pain also that it dulls. psychological pain of unemployment, hollowing out of america, this is the population largely effected by this opioid epidemic, these are people effected by global shifts in the economy, or out of work. and find that opiates dull that
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pain, that psychological pain, something that they want, they seek. >> a lot of people in the audience nodding their head on this. >> i mentioned childhood experience, whatever pain, people aren't aware they're walking around but are aware when they get the relief and feel better. >> allen is a recovering addict. he has a question for dr. drew. >> my family is greatly effected by my addiction. >> how long were you addicted? i had a spinal fusion and addict ed to the percocets for six years and still fighting it, but when my family finally tried to address my addiction, it was chaotic. >> in terms of how they tried to
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do it? >> yeah. by the time they actually got to the point, they were pretty much helpless and didn't know how to the help me, and they were were frustrated and scared and so on. so, it became volatile. my most intimate relationships became destroyed. my family, you know, those who were still left, and a lot of shame and blame and so on, and so my question to you is for a family with a loved one suffering from addiction, how do you help them? >>le with, my basic advice is the same as the others. >> and to his point, so many emotion, anger, shame, frustration, fear. >> it is complicated, but the one thing i would tell family members do not go it alone. do not go it alone.
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and the little plant of "little shop of horrors" that audrey took care of? and so what i do when i walk into a room with a person with addictions, i walk in with my nurse, because it is a destructive disease, and they are not e equipped to handle it on their own. and it is not their fault or my fau fault, just as you have any neurologic diseases, can you go it alone. >> and it is everything physical from the pupils are more pinpoint with opiates as opposed to cocaine where they are more dilated.
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>> and i keep it simple, if you are going, like this, you can't explain what is going on, take a good look if it is drugs oral alcohol, and do not minimize it, and if you are aware if they are using it, and if you are a parent, it is far worse than you may know. >> yes, and hiding drugs, and all sorts of things. >> and opioids, you can walk around all of the time and not know a person is on it until it starts to unravel later. >> and we first met you crystal at a town hall in ohio, andt that town hall, crystal asked senator bernie sanders about what he would do for drug policies, and what do you want to hear from candidates, crystal? >> as a heroin addict who had started out with the pain pillsb and i started with the cash dockers or the and the pharmacy hopping, and doctor hopping to get that prescription filled and
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then it led to my heroin addiction, and what i would like to know is if it is possible to get a national database that would track the opiate prescriptions nationally, so that there is no overlapping and doctor shopping. >> that seems like a no-brainer. i would have assumed that there is. and there is not? >> well, there is a juryriged one, and every state except for missouri has the state programs where there is some tracking, and there is some monitoring of this, but there is a couple of problems, and one is that the states don't always talk to the each other, and two, it is not mandatory in all of the states. like alabama it is, and n ne, it is voluntary, and many, many times, even if the doctors know about the programs, statistics sew that half of the doctors participate in it, and input the data. a and vu to input the data or people can't find it, and it is sort of there, and not national and not always compliant with it. >> and e chief, quickly, when you started the program, did you get a lot of pushback from the community of people saying, what
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are you doing? >> we actually enacted it as a result of the community. our job is to hold accountable those we have to, and to care for those we can. and if we can intervene somewhere before the arrest process exacerbates a person with an addiction's problems already, and then i think that we have a responsibility to do that. the community support is what led to it being enacted and people came around the country, righ right? >> initially, we were the only one doing it. >> and other people from other towns were coming? >> yes, from california to massachusetts. >> that is incredible. >> and now over 105 police departments in 24 states that when somebody pick up the united states and they call gloucester pd, we have a direction that is not always in our tiny haven. >> and now, joining us is claudia who runs a addiction treatment center.
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>> thank you for taking this out of the shadows. i find that is stigma is a big blocker of helping patient, and what can we do to treat the addiction and treat it as a disease and not a crime or a character defect. >> and the stigma goes to the heart of the disease, because you won't find any stigmas with the diseases that are cared for. but stigmatization of the public and self-stigmatization is what drives us into the shadows and hurts people, and keeps them in the addiction. the voice of law enforcement has been bringing it out of the shadows. if law enforcement is able to do certain things, and approach addiction which has always been a crime to us in a way that says, look, this is a disease, then you is that legitimate voice, and a voice that has not been heard from before to promulgate more people to go on to that view and get it out of
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the shadows, and hopefully we will be seeing it coming along, i hope. >> it is a brain disease. dr. drew calls it a brain disease and dr. nguyen, and it is a brain disease and as more doctors say it out loud, the more the stigma will go away. >> we have just scratched the surface of this, and i want to say that jason simkuski was killed by the overprescription of pain while he was in a v.a. center, and yesterday the family was on capitol hill to testify to pass a bill, and this bill will forever be passed as the jason memorial safety act, and we hope it saves so p many more lives in jason's name and memory, and so thank you so much for being here. also, if you or a loved one need needs help, there are resources that you need for cnn.com/impact
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for someone whether it is you or someone that you love, and go to cnn.com and read the essay that dr. sanjay has posted on the issue tonight. i want to thank all of you who have told your stories and for those who have come tonight, and those on the stage and the audience at home. thank you very much. thank you very much. cnn with don will lemon is next. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com ill --ocaptions by vitac -- www.vitac.com ll l --ncaptions by vitac -- www.vitac.com lem --icaptions by vitac -- www.vitac.com lem --icaptions by vitac -- www.vitac.com lemo --scaptions by vitac -- www.vitac.com
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