On this episode of the podcast, Terry and Bob discuss how to balance the positives and negatives of opioids. They highlight how even though the Covid-19 pandemic is ending, the opioid overdose epidemic continues to rage uncontrolled, with over 93,000 Americans overdosing last year. The Covid-19 pandemic coincided with a roughly 30 percent increase in opioid overdoses. There are 168 million opioid prescriptions filled each year.
Terry and Bob explain that despite the risks of opioids, they perform an essential function for those who need them to manage their intense pain. They point out how pain can be debilitating and cause depression. They discuss their personal stories of how the opioid epidemic has touched their lives and how patients vulnerable to opioid abuse lost needed touchpoints during the pandemic. They highlight a new campaign called Reverse the Silence, which advocates for those at risk of an overdose to help turn the tide on this epidemic.
Terry interviews former Congresswoman Mary Bono, who shares policy ideas to combat the opioid epidemic and highlights overdose-reversing drugs to save lives. She explains how addiction is a disease of despair, which has been rising even before the Covid-19 pandemic began. She’s confident that President Biden and Congress can come together to tackle this issue. She discusses the major threat that fentanyl poses because it is laced in many common drugs. Once someone gets addicted to prescription opioids, they can easily switch to the synthetic opioid fentanyl.
Terry also interviews Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller, who reflects on his battle with addiction and is the spokesperson for Reverse the Silence. Darren explains how he relied on opioids to overcome feelings of inadequacy and how it took an overdose for him finally to admit defeat and enter rehab and recovery.
Patient correspondent Kate Pecora interviews Peter Morley and Rachel Brody about August being Healthcare Awareness Month. They discuss the healthcare roadshow they created in the Northeast to amplify the efforts Congress is making to help the patient community. They argue that even if you’re a private person, you should still consider becoming an advocate and telling your story because storytelling is vital to making public policy reforms that help patients with rare and chronic diseases. Such stories can inspire others to tell their own.