ATLANTA (4-18-17) – Treating pain effectively, investing in community prevention, providing proper treatment, eradicating the stigma around addiction, and eliminating stress are keys to overcoming the nation’s opioid crisis, United States Surgeon General Dr. Vivek H. Murthy told attendees of the sixth annual National Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit Tuesday evening.
“The disease of addiction can swiftly and quickly highjack a person’s mind,” Murthy said. “We know what works. The problem is we aren’t doing enough of it.”
But as strong as science may be in battling addiction, the most important resource needed to overcome the crisis, Murthy continued, “is our ability to demonstrate compassion (because it) allows us to stop judging and start helping.”
“For far too long, millions of people have struggled in the shadows with addiction,” Murthy said. “(Your efforts) are about reaffirming the belief that every life matters … that we do better as a country when we look out for each other.”
The Summit, which began Monday evening, has drawn record attendance of nearly 2,400 people representing 48 states, the District of Columbia, and three other countries (Canada, China and Australia).
Also keynoting was Dr. Nora D. Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), who spoke about her organization’s research on the health aspects of drug abuse and addiction.
“NIDA is focused on supporting research and disseminating findings to address the widespread problem of opioid misuse and addiction that is facing our nation, while continuing to ensure relief for those suffering from pain,” said Volkow, whose work has been instrumental in demonstrating that drug addiction is a disease of the human brain.
“The best approach must include safer and more effective pain management strategies, new and innovative medications and technologies for the treatment of opioid addiction, and improved overdose prevention and reversal interventions.”
“There is a sense of urgency,” she emphasized. “We cannot afford to wait.”
General Barry McCaffrey, who served as Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy for four years under President Bill Clinton, called addiction “a disease of communities.”
“There’s only one thing that’s important,” McCaffrey told attendees, “and that’s prevention and education.”
Summit attendees also had an exclusive preview screening of HBO Documentary Films “WARNING: This Drug May Kill You” with introductions from its Director Perri Peltz; Dr. Andrew Kolodny, the documentary’s medical advisor; Dr. Volkow; and other guest speakers.
The film, which will debut May 1 on HBO, is told from the perspectives of four families devastated by opioid addiction. It features home videos and photos that put a human face on this public health crisis, along with important statistics and information about opioid use and treatment.
The Summit, which continues through April 20, is the largest national collaboration of federal, state and local professionals seeking to address prescription drug abuse, misuse and diversion.