In May 2023, CSDAP staff met with Doug Simon, Governor DeSantis’ Director of the Office of Drug Control (a job often referred to as Drug Czar). He commented on the pros and cons of Medication-Assisted Treatment for those addicted to opioids, alcohol or other drugs and what must be done to reduce the state's problems with drugs and addiction.
Over the last few years, you have perhaps noticed this trend: The media is totally on the psychedelic drug bandwagon. Scientific bodies and government agencies echo the refrain chanted by the media: They’re great for treating alcoholism, drug addiction and mental ills. This is not the first time we've heard rave recommendations for broadly increasing the use of potentially dangerous drugs: the marketing that drove us into the opioid crisis is but one example. So, is it safe to buy into the enthusiasm or should we be taking a careful, closer look at the effects of these drugs?
On a sparking Washington, D.C. day, 150 attendees and a dozen or so presenters gathered at the Miracle Theater to share news related to drug policy. Presenters included Kevin Sabet emphasizing the need for scientific evidence to lead drug policy decisions, not the popular vote; Dr. Drew Pinsky and his daughter Paulina speaking about the addictive properties of marijuana and the dangers of Delta-8; and Doug Simon, who discussed new pilot programs in Florida to break the cycle of addiction. Other speakers discussed trends in drug abuse and addiction, workplace drug testing fraud and much more.
Medication-assisted treatment is America's primary offering for those who are addicted. But implicit in the word “treatment” is recovery from an illness or other condition—as in "not suffering from that condition any longer." Is medication-assisted treatment really a recovery-oriented therapy? Or is its primary role preventing a person from relapse and overdose? These are questions those involved in addiction recovery should be asking.
According to an article in Politico, the White House held a ceremony on January 24, 2023 to sign the Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment (MAT) Act. This Act eliminated the special training requirement for doctors and other health practitioners who wanted to prescribe medication-assisted treatment to the opioid-addicted. While making medication-assisted treatment more broadly available could be a positive move, does it take into account the care that the opioid-addicted really need ?
In our interview with Dr. Amerling he expressed concerns about the pharmaceutical industry's dominance over medicine, the limitations of evidence-based medicine, and the use of medication-assisted treatment in addiction medicine. He also criticizes medical schools for compressing basic sciences and promoting arbitrary guidelines over critical thinking. Dr. Amerling advocates for physicians to take back their authority, prioritize patients' lifestyle choices and abstinence in addiction medicine, and to avoid over-reliance on pharmaceuticals.
One of the ways a subject can be altered—slowly, imperceptibly—is through a gradual redefinition of the terms used in that field. This shift may be glacially slow and can seem to be for all the right reasons. But over time, it can change the way people talk about and even understand the subject. Is this "redefinition creep" that is ongoing today in the field of addiction and recovery broadening our understanding or making it narrower? Is it positive or negative?
Government agencies like the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) are continuously involved in setting the standards for treatment of addiction. They publish guidelines for both drug rehab facilities and those seeking rehab. Therefore, the exact wording of their guidelines is of utmost importance. A subtle shift could result in unintended and undesirable changes in treatment.
Writer Karen Hadley contributed a review this book by Scott Higham and Sari Horwitz. The first half of American Cartel tells the story of how the DEA was forced to change by The Alliance, a cartel of drug manufacturers who had no intention of letting the DEA change anything about their business model. And Joe Rannazzisi stood in the way of their being able to do business exactly as they chose. So he had to go. And the only way to accomplish that goal was through changing the law in America that enabled him to do his job. So that’s exactly what they did.
In 2020, a special commission was convened to review causes and solutions for the increasing number of opioid deaths in North America. In February 2022, the Commission released its report. If the Commission proposes any effective methods of stopping this runaway freight train, those suggestions should be immediately and seriously considered.