The Opioid Epidemic Is Still Alive And Killing

With everyone’s attention in the U.S. fully turned for the past year and a half toward the pandemic and vaccines and what one can and cannot do, there is one issue that once was in the spotlight as well as the hearts and minds of legislators and public health agencies that has completely fallen off the radar. I’m talking about the opioid epidemic.

With this thought front and center, I was not surprised to come across an article at, in which Michael Barnett, assistant professor of health policy and management at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health talked about why 2020 is likely to be the deadliest year on record for opioid overdoses. He echoes my own thoughts when he says, “The pandemic is in many ways a perfect storm for anyone who is struggling with substance use disorder. People have lost their jobs. Social and family interactions have been limited. And the pandemic itself is depressing and anxiety provoking. These are all stimuli that can stress the psyche and the finances of someone who has an addiction. In some cases, it could push a person who was getting their addiction under control back toward substance use. In other cases, the pandemic might be the trigger that actually makes someone consider initiating drug use, which could end up becoming an addiction and being harmful.”

We were making such good headway and had momentum building on the opioid crisis prior to COVID-19. Now, all the attention that has been taken away has many who have been focused on the opioid crisis feeling like we have to start from ground zero again. We have to remind people about the devastation being caused by opioids and convince them about the toll opioids are taking on millions of lives. The pandemic has increased anxiety in everyone. Mental health issues lead people to experiment with drugs to ease the tension. We must refocus our attention as healthcare providers on this deadly epidemic. Let me remind you in no uncertain terms that the death toll is rising every day.

Oxycontin Oxymoron

 I read an article recently that made me scratch my head in wonder. The title of the article is Oxycontin Maker Pleads Guilty and Shuts Down. I was very interested to read the details and thought that after reading it I would be able to cheer. However, that was not my take-away.

I’m sharing parts of the article a little further on in this piece so you can see exactly what I’m talking about. But first I want to provide definitions for the two words that make up the title of this piece.


Oxycontin: Narcotic

It can treat moderate to severe pain. High risk for addiction and dependence. Can cause respiratory distress and death when taken in high doses or when combined with other substances, especially alcohol.


Oxymoron: A figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction.

Example: Jumbo shrimp


Now To The Story  

The article I’m going to share excerpts from is about the Sackler family. That’s the family that owned Purdue Pharma which created and marketed Oxycontin and is responsible for creating the opioid epidemic, not just in this country but around the world. If you’ve been following the story, you may know that the Sacklers were considering filing for bankruptcy back in  early 2019 while they were facing “an estimated 2,600 lawsuits relating to its role in creating the opioid epidemic.”

Instead of filing for bankruptcy, “court documents reveal the Sacklers transferred more than $10 billion of the company’s funds into family trusts. They fraudulently transferred company funds into trusts and offshore accounts owned by members of the Sackler family in an effort to shield assets from litigation.

The article also mentions a New York complaint charging “Purdue with secretly setting up a new company, Rhodes Pharma, in 2007 while the company was being investigated by federal prosecutors, as a way to protect the Sacklers from the mounting OxyContin crisis and continue their profit scheme.6 Rhodes Pharma makes generic opioids, allowing the Sacklers to benefit from the opioid epidemic both in terms of brand name sales and generic sales.” And, “according to a lawsuit filed in Massachusetts,10 Purdue Pharma and the Sacklers sought to increase opioid prescriptions while simultaneously developing overdose treatment to boost its profits.”


Here’s Where It Gets Twisted

According to the article, “Purdue finally filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September 2019.11 At the end of October 2020, Purdue Pharma agreed to plead guilty to three federal criminal charges relating to its role in the opioid crisis, including violating a federal anti-kickback law, conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government and violating the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.12,13

To settle the charges, Purdue is supposed to pay $8.3 billion in fines, forfeiture of past profits and civil liability payments.14 However, the company doesn’t have enough cash to cover the payments so, instead, Purdue Pharma will be dissolved, and its assets used to erect a “public benefit company,” in other words, a government-owned and controlled drug company.

This new company will reportedly be controlled by a trust that will “balance the trust’s interests against those of the American public and public health.”15 Future earnings from this public benefit company will be used to pay off the $8.3 billion penalty, which in turn is supposed to be used to combat the opioid crisis.”

Which means, “In essence, the government will now be in the business of making and selling opioids, the profits from which will then be used to combat opioid addiction.”

Now, that’s not exactly the same as Jumbo Shrimp, but it does sound oxymoronic, loopy in fact. It sounds like the government is following in the Sacklers’ footsteps. I’m not quite sure what to do besides scratch my head in wonderment. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see how selling opioids will help combat opioid addiction.

Lack Of Understanding About Addiction Leads To Not Caring

By Dr. John Rosa


Many people don’t understand why or how other people become addicted to drugs—or to anything for that matter.

Addiction is addiction whether it is perceived as a positive or negative addiction. Most people think those who are addicted to drugs and or alcohol lack moral principles. They think those souls should exercise greater will power and that stopping is just a matter of choosing.

If anyone has been addicted to over-eating or consuming chocolate or addicted to work at the expense of their families and friends are engaged in addictive behavior. And all addiction starts in the brain.

Just Say No

Drugs actually change the brain in ways that makes quitting difficult. Drug addiction is a complex disease and more often than not, quitting – even for those who really want to quit – takes more than good intentions. Once an addiction has taken hold, just saying no is rarely good enough.

According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, “Addiction is a chronic disease characterized by drug seeking and use that is compulsive, or difficult to control, despite harmful consequences. The initial decision to take drugs is voluntary for most people, but repeated drug use can lead to brain changes that challenge an addicted person’s self-control and interfere with their ability to resist intense urges to take drugs. These brain changes can be persistent, which is why drug addiction is considered a “relapsing” disease—people in recovery from drug use disorders are at increased risk for returning to drug use even after years of not taking the drug.”

Doctor Prescribed Addictions

It has been reported that more than 11.5 million people misused prescription pain medicine in 2016. In addition, 48.5 million Americans have used illicit drugs or misused prescription drugs. And those numbers only reflect the people who were willing to admit to using drugs. It is thought that those numbers are much higher. Drug and opioid addiction are not new to this country. The history of our country’s addiction to drugs goes back 150 years when heroin, morphine and codeine were widely prescribed to treat battle wounds after the Civil War.

Today’s epidemic was brought on in part by excessive prescription of opioid painkillers after Purdue Pharma brought OxyContin to the market in 1995 and then aggressively promoted the drug as a pain-relieving godsend that boasted a low risk of addiction. And the sad truth is that knowing what we know they, they are still allowed to make and prescribe this drug.

New Opioid Killer 100 Times Stronger Than Heroin

In 2011, oxycodone ranked first in cause of drug related deaths. From 2012 to 2015, it was heroin, and in 2016, fentanyl, the relatively new kid on the block. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), is 80 to 100 times stronger than heroin or cocaine.

We’ve lost too many of our young to this epidemic. We’ve lost many talented people who gave of themselves to the world. Until it hits close to home, most people will continue to think that those addicted to opioids have a choice and that they could just simply quit. Nothing could be further from the truth. Our country needs a much deeper understanding of the effects of opioids on the brain. We need greater early education. We need to make it unappealing to try drugs in a similar way that the tobacco industry has finally made smoking unappealing.

Awareness Leads To Understanding

We need to educate people and doctors that there are other ways of treating pain that does not require pills. We need to wean our society off the idea that there is a magic pill for whatever ails you. Understanding and awareness must always come first before anything can change. I am on a mission to bring that awareness to as many individuals and organizations as I can.

If you, or someone you love is dependent or addicted to opioid drugs, please seek help before it’s too late. If you would like to learn more about the Opioid Crisis as it relates to awareness, prevention and treatment or schedule a corporate or organization seminar contact us at Here you will learn how to connect you, your company or organization with the leading experts on the crisis and how to help your community stay safe.