Yes, you can say that this blog title could be seen as click bait – it is, I want people to read it! Yes, you could say this is a pun and yes, Oxy-moron is a play on words and no, people that took ‘Oxy’s’ are not morons. In fact, it’s the family, doctors, pharmaceutical companies and rehabs that helped contribute towards this conundrum; and destroyed so many lives, in fact, that one could say are halfwits and imbeciles. And finally, no this is not a joke, Oxycontin destroyed thousands of lives in the US and worldwide that led to the fentanyl epidemic …

The opioid crisis in the United States has been a devastating phenomenon over the past four decades, with Oxycontin at its epicenter. This blog post aims to shed light on the historical roots of this crisis, with a focus on the role played by the Sackler family, and how it continues to impact countless lives to this day and most importantly, the writer critically examines the rehabilitation techniques implemented to help addicts put their lives back together. 

The Opioid Conundrum: Unraveling the Oxy-moron

Yes, you may consider this title click bait. It is, indeed, a pun. “Oxy-moron” is a play on words. However, it is crucial to emphasize that individuals who used ‘Oxy’s’ are not to be labeled as morons. In reality, the responsibility lies with a complex interplay of factors: family dynamics, medical practitioners, pharmaceutical companies, and rehabilitation facilities, all of which contributed to the crisis. It is imperative to recognize that the impact has been far-reaching, affecting individuals in profound ways.

The Sackler Legacy: An Unsettling Reality

Central to this crisis is the pivotal role played by the Sackler family. Their pharmaceutical empire, while initially established to address pain management, inadvertently became a catalyst for widespread addiction. Aggressive marketing strategies for Oxycontin paved the way for a nationwide health crisis, affecting families, communities, and society at large.

The Fentanyl Onslaught: Escalation of a Crisis

As the opioid crisis escalated, the introduction of fentanyl marked a critical turning point. This highly potent synthetic opioid, often illicitly mixed with other substances, intensified the death toll and challenged medical professionals and law enforcement alike.

The Depth of the Crisis: Insufficient is an Understatement

To merely scratch the surface of this issue would be a disservice. Delving into the history of the Sackler family, the intricate web of pharmaceutical practices, and the involvement of healthcare professionals paints a more comprehensive picture. Understanding not only where we stand today, but also the trajectory we are heading towards, is essential.

Rehabilitation Realities: A Critical Examination

To elaborate further on what annoys me, I find issue with rehabilitation facilities for substance abuse and addiction. I dislike the term “clean,” which is used to describe someone who has not relapsed. It’s disheartening that individuals who have a setback are labelled as “DIRTY.” Labels like these are not conducive to a positive self-affirmation, whether it’s during a meeting or when looking in the mirror in the morning. Imagine saying, “Hi, my name is Bob, and I’m a drug addict,” which is essentially equating oneself with being either “dirty” or “clean.” It’s quite a negative way to view oneself, and I may be somewhat cynical, but it’s not helpful.

Additionally, there’s the issue of the “proverbial” revolving door theory. This means that the system seems designed for individuals to relapse, reinforcing the notion that they are “dirty” and must strive to be “clean.” The only path to achieving this, it seems, is by investing substantial amounts of money in a rehabilitation facility where individuals with varying levels of expertise offer guidance on how to live their lives. This approach is ethically questionable since therapists, psychologists, and counselors are generally not supposed to give advice unless specifically asked to do so. Even then, they aim to minimize offering advice as much as possible, adhering to principles like beneficence and non-maleficence, ensuring that their actions benefit the person and do no harm.

Rehabilitation facilities have become lucrative businesses that only succeed if the person struggling with a substance or behavioural addiction genuinely desires to get better and actively seeks help. This is in contrast to concerned family members or loved ones, like husbands, mothers, siblings, or girlfriends, who might want the individual to seek treatment. This dynamic contributes to the low retention rates seen in 12-step programs or the traditional Minnesota model compared to more effective intervention models with higher success rates. These alternative approaches include CRAFT (Community Reinforcement and Family Training/Therapy), Harm Reduction Models, Positive Reinforcement, and Dialectical Behavioural Therapy.

Beyond Labels: Effective Interventions

Emerging intervention models such as CRAFT (Community Reinforcement and Family Training/Therapy), Harm Reduction, Positive Reinforcement, and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy offer promising alternatives. These approaches empower individuals and their support networks, leading to higher success rates and sustained recovery.

Conclusion: Empowerment through Knowledge

This discourse is not about passing judgment, but rather, about presenting the unvarnished truth. The opioid crisis, fueled by Oxycontin and its counterparts, has left an indelible mark on lives and communities. Understanding the origins and potential interventions is the first step towards meaningful change. It is not about good or bad; it’s about leveraging knowledge for the betterment of countless lives. Let us embark on a path of education and empowerment.

References:

Jones, C. M. (2013). Heroin use and heroin use risk behaviors among nonmedical users of prescription opioid pain relievers – United States, 2002-2004 and 2008-2010. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 132(1-2), 95-100.

Kolodny, A., Courtwright, D. T., Hwang, C. S., Kreiner, P., Eadie, J. L., Clark, T. W., & Alexander, G. C. (2015). The prescription opioid and heroin crisis: A public health approach to an epidemic of addiction. Annual Review of Public Health, 36, 559-574.

Arria, A. M., & McLellan, A. T. (2019). Evolution of the concept of recovery: A 40-year perspective. Substance Abuse, 40(2), 152-157.

Skinner, M. L., & Haggerty, K. P. (2018). Overcoming the odds: High-risk, low-income students achieve academic success. American Journal of Education, 124(4), 353-379.