Howard Westman, MD, FSAM

Chief Medical Officer

Townsend Addiction Treatment Centers

I’ve never done this before. But I’m doing it now. I clicked on this link and donated to funding the KickStarter movie, “Written Off.”

Why would I do such a thing? Here’s why.

Matt Edwards was a young man who got his first opioid from a doctor after toe surgery. In the car on the way home, while the medicine was just starting to kick in, Matt said to his mother, “I’ve never felt like this before. I feel like I’ve been touched by God.” That’s not a normal reaction to opioid pain medication. The opioids didn’t cause Matt’s illness, the illness caused his opioid use.

We continue to see the “opioid epidemic” the way we saw the “heroin epidemic” of the 70’s and the “cocaine epidemic” of the late 80’s. We continue to see these the way we see the “obesity epidemic” of today. What do all these things have in common? They are all caused by millions of Americans having untreated addiction. The real problem is that our “treatment” for addiction in this country isn’t treating addiction, but rather it’s treating drug use. So we cycle from drug to drug in a societal game of Whack-a-Mole, wondering why these addicts don’t just stop.

It’s because they can’t, because we haven’t treated the underlying cause, the biological brain disease called addiction. So we give them misaimed treatment, and when it doesn’t work, we write them off. Matt Edwards was written off. Today millions of Americans are being written off. The top five causes of death in America today are largely affected by addiction. The largest losses to GDP and the healthcare system are due to addiction, and still we do little for this treatable biological illness.

I urge you to stop writing off your fellow Americans. Check out Shatterproof. Check out the KickStarter movie about Matt. Get the word out about addiction: biological, largely genetic, incurable, but treatable. Let’s stop wasting the potential of 10 to 20% of our population.

I really don’t care what you do, just do something. Even if it’s tiny, you’ll have no idea the impact it will make. Just tell one person to read this, give $1 to Written Off, donate $1 to Shatterproof, tell one person that addiction is a real disease. Whatever you do will make a difference. Do something.