The Cycle of Opioids Addiction

Sep 19, 2017

Sound Medicine begins the new year with the return of a special program exploring the medical community’s growing awareness of opioid abuse and addiction, and the devastating consequences of prescribing opioids for pain. In this special program, we hear from expert physicians and former prescription pain addicts to explore how our use of opioids to treat pain has led to opioid abuse, and hundreds of thousands of deaths.

One of those patients, Karen, shares her story of addiction with Sound Medicine host Barbara Lewis. 

Guests include: 

Andy Chambers, M.D., a board certified addictionologist with the Indiana University School of Medicine, who treats patients struggling with addiction. He is also an associate professor of psychiatry and director of the Addiction Psychiatry Fellowship Program.

Palmer MacKie, M.D., is a former emergency room physician who now runs an integrative pain management program; an associate professor of clinical medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine. He uses alternative treatments like acupuncture and physical therapy to help wean patients off of prescription pain medication. According to Dr. MacKie, the amount of prescription pain medications prescribed in the United States has skyrocketed in the past decade, but there have been no great advances in the field of chronic pain control. 

Deborah McMahan, M.D., is the health commissioner for the Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health; a member of the statewide drug task force that tries to stop illegal opioid drug distribution throughout Indiana. According to Dr. McMahan, one in five teenagers is now taking prescription drugs for non-medical purposes. Dr. McMahan says that acquiring prescription drugs for non-medical purposes is easy; individuals are able to swipe them from a parent’s medicine cabinet, acquire them on the street, or take it from an elderly relative. 

Michael Whitworth, M.D., is a pain physician who has transformed the way he cares for patients. He is a physician at Advanced Pain Management Surgery. Dr. Whitworth says that monitoring those taking prescription drugs is the key to detecting dependency. Indiana is now using electronic systems like INSPECT to monitor those taking prescription drugs.  

Field producer Jill Ditmire interviews Paul Winchester, M.D., and one of his patients about babies who are born highly addicted to prescription drugs. Dr. Winchester oversees the neonatal intensive care unit at Franciscan St. Francis Health-Indianapolis and says instead of seeing one drug addicted baby a year, like they did in 2001, his NICU now is treating one every day. Dr. Winchester is a neonatologist and professor of clinical pediatrics at Franciscan St. Francis Health.