June 3: The Local Take Discusses The Opioid Epidemic

Jun 3, 2017

Join us on The Local Take on 91.9 WCLK Saturday, June 3 at 7:00 a.m. as we discuss opioids. The opioid addiction crisis in America has been all over the news, from obituaries of average people to celebrities to overdose prevention measures by first responders. After attending last month's Opioid Prevention Summit hosted by Dekalb County Commissioner Larry Johnson, I reached out to one of the presenters to share information with our listeners. Dr. Patrice Harris is the Chair of the Board of the American Medical Association. Dr. Harris is the first African American woman to hold this position.

Some of the research presented at the summit included:

  • 80% of heroin users started with prescription drugs
  • 30% of those prescribed opioids will experience a challenge with abuse
  • In Georgia opioid overdose deaths have exceeded deaths from car accidents
  • One dose of 'street' heroin is only $10, significantly cheaper than prescription opioids
  • The USA consumes 80% of the world's production of Oxycodone.

Dr. Harris explains that our current crises is mostly due to the misuse of prescription pain pills. She emphasizes that this is a complex challenge. Doctors are attempting to help patients who suffer from pain after medical procedures or those who suffer from chronic pain. Doctors are now aware that abuse is so widespread they have begun to cut back on the number of pills prescribed and are also looking for more holistic solutions to pain management.  We discuss the concurrent research that shows doctors under-prescribing pain medication in the African American community. 

While people in our country abusing heroin is not new, in the past the number one solution was to lock up addicts as prisoners. The medical and criminal justice communities have come to understand that this isn't the best solution.  

Dr. Harris shares with us that in the USA 90 people a day die from an opioid overdose. She speaks about the synthetic heroin Fentanyl (the drug that killed Prince, among many others) which is wreaking havoc on heroin users who aren't aware that this powerful synthetic may be in the drugs that they purchase. 

Dr. Harris points out that most abuse is occurring at the medicine cabinet in our homes. She emphasizes the need for honest conversations about the use and abuse of opioids. She also shares that one challenge is the lack of facilities to treat people who are suffering with addiction. Quite often when a addict does reach out for assistance they are told to come back in 6-8 weeks because a "bed" is not available. 

For more information on Dr. Patrice Harris

For more information n the AMA and their Task Force on Opiods

For more information on the Medical Association of Georgia program 

Kiplyn Primus and Dr. Patrice Harris