Opioid Sadness and Hope

This week I want to share two articles about Opioids. The first article is about MLB baseball player Tyler Skaggs and how opioids played a part in his death. The second is a study about opioid use disorder from Boston-based Massachusetts General Hospital that provides hope. Below you’ll find these articles and my thoughts on their implications.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed below are those of Mark Pew, Senior Vice President of Product Development and Marketing, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Preferred Medical.

Coroner: Opioids and alcohol in Skaggs’ system

Tyler Skaggs, found unresponsive in his hotel room on July 1, had alcohol, fentanyl and oxycodone in his system. While it is not certain where he obtained the drugs (the reporting is somewhat vague as to whether they were legitimately prescribed or illicit street drugs) that are prohibited under the MLB’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, the family has launched an investigation.

Mark’s Thoughts:
BREAKING (on August 30): Whenever someone dies suddenly, many people in the US (including myself) think about an opioid overdose. Unfortunately, that fear has been realized for this baseball player. It doesn’t matter whether you’re famous or infamous, known or unknown, every life (and story) matters. The questioning of the source, and potential legal action, is a troubling twist but I can imagine how/why the family wants answers. This will continue to be a developing story. The title of an LA Times article published one day after my post says it all – “Details of Tyler Skaggs’ death could trigger legal battle with millions at stake.” So many things to consider as they search for the truth and seek accountability (similar to what the heirs of Prince have done, lawsuit still pending). But the worst outcome has already occurred in a life cut short. Unfortunately, news of another athlete’s death came on Sep 4. Northern Arizona college football player Malik Noshi died of an opioid overdose from (likely illicit, not prescription) fentanyl, Sadly, there are no shortage of stories about the devastating impact of opioids on families around the country.

1 million Americans have recovered from opioid use disorder, study estimates

A recent study analyzed data from U.S. adults who reported overcoming opioid addiction and compared it to a sample of adults who achieved long-term recovery from alcohol use disorder. It found a number of resources used by people that achieved long-term opioid recovery were more likely to be used after the first year than those who recovered from alcohol use disorder. To the researchers this pointed out “that individuals with an opioid problem might require additional treatment or additional resources to achieve longer and more stable recovery duration.”

Mark’s Thoughts:
“An estimated 1.2 million Americans have achieved long-term recovery from opioid use disorder” is a great statement of hope. To those that have not yet made that decision to pursue recovery, this is evidence that it can be done. One commenter said “Oh how I wish my son could find recovery from opioid addiction. Nothing has worked so far. That craving is strong…” Unfortunately, that is true for so many. For an example of being able to overcome all odds please read my 4/4/18 blogpost “A Woman of Integrity … in #Recovery.” For every person that has successfully recovered (a moment-by-moment decision every day) there are a number still trying to achieve long-term recovery, have not yet had that epiphany, or have lost their lives. So while 1.2 million is a great statement of hope, there is so much more to be done.

To read everything on my mind this past week, please visit me on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/marks-musings-september-3-mark-rxprofessor-pew/.

Until Next Week,