Talk of the opioid epidemic is all over the news, in the newspapers, and on the internet. The problem is that there are so many myths circulating that it’s hard to decipher what is the truth. Fixing a problem that few understand is difficult. The reality is that one person dies every 13 minutes from an opioid overdose, and something must be done as the problem is out of hand. Here are some common myths and the truths behind them.
Myth 1: The Opioid Epidemic Is All Hype – People Have Always Died From Drug Use
There is much truth in the statement that people have been dying from drug overdoses for decades. The problem is that the opioid crisis is different than addictions in times past because the deaths are more widespread. Currently, it’s estimated that there are more than 4.5 million people in this country that have an addiction to opioids, and most of those people are using illegal prescription medications. Not only is the person with the addiction affected, but it affects families, friends, employers, and the entire community. The justice system must pay more than $7 billion a year because of drug addiction as the incarceration and rehabilitation are expensive.
Myth 2: If a doctor prescribes medications then it must besafe
Opioid drugs are an excellent choice for a short-term pain condition, but just because a doctor prescribes them doesn’t mean they are 100 percent safe. Unfortunately, they are highly addictive. They are just as addictive as sleeping pills, barbiturates or benzodiazepines. It’s possible to become hooked by taking opioids for just a few days. The potency is not something that should be taken lightly.
Myth 3: Most opioid abuse happens in big cities like NYC or Los Angeles
It’s true that the bigger cities have a huge problem because of the number of people that live in the locale. However, it’s also a significant problem in rural areas too. The CDC states that in 2016, per 100,000 people, West Virginia had 52 deaths from opioid abuse, Ohio had 39, and Pennsylvania had 37. That same year, NYC and all it’s boroughs showed 1,374 deaths.
Myth 4: People on opioids are already addicts – it won’t affect those close
The opioid crisis is closer to home than many people imagine. Overdoses occur in every ethnic group and within every income level. It can happen to a lawyer after surgery or traumatic accident, or it can happen to a teenager who is experimenting with recreational drug use. No one is immune to this disease.
Myth 5: Addicts have no willpower
Even the strongest person is powerless under the influence of opioids. Being addicted to these drugs is a chronic condition that needs professional treatment. Having this disease is no different than having diabetes or high blood pressure.
The opioid crisis has reached epic proportions. Something must be done to save these people. Better mental health care and better awareness of the truthful aspects of the disease is an excellent place to start.
Lorne Cross, MD is a healthcare professional from Portland, Oregon, who specializes in Addiction Medicine. It’s no secret that the United States is facing an opioid crisis. There are more lives lost to overdose deaths each year than were lost in the entire Vietnam War, and new data shows that opioids now kill more people each year than breast cancer. Understanding and treating the opioid crisis is of utmost importance to this country, and Dr. Cross has chosen to specialize in Addiction Medicine and focus all of his professional attention on this critical problem.
As the Medical Director of the Willamette Valley Treatment Center, Dr. Cross is the leader of a team that provides Medication Assisted Treatment to patients with Opioid Use Disorder. Lorne Cross, MD also serves as the Medical Director of a new Opioid Treatment Program in the Yamhill County Jail. Focusing on the treatment of opiate addiction, rather than punishment, can help to prevent relapse, decrease the rate of overdose deaths, and help to lower recidivism in the jail population, putting inmates on the right path upon release. Giving patients a path to recovery ultimately sets them up for more success in their futures.
Dr. Cross is hopeful as he looks into the future of treatment opportunities for opiate addiction. He sees the expansion of treatment into jails and prisons as a necessary step towards treating the opioid crisis and preventing unnecessary overdose deaths. Treating addiction with a rehabilitative approach is one of the best ways to reach out to those who truly need it most.
Senior Medical School Class Officer
Scholastic Honors Program Graduate
John Philip Sousa Award 1988
Years' Experience in Healthcare
Years Serving as a Major in the U.S. Army Reserve
Published Research Articles
From the time he was a child, Lorne Cross, MD was always fascinated by medicine and the natural sciences. By the time he reached college he knew he wanted to attend medical school and pursue his medical degree. He graduated in the top third of his class from Loma Linda University School of Medicine and completed his medicine internship and his anesthesiology residency at Loma Linda University Medical Center. Loma Linda University is a coeducational health sciences university located in California. He is also a Magna Cum Laude graduate of the Scholastic Honors Program at Southwestern Adventist College, where he earned his Bachelor of Science in Biology. Southwestern Adventist College is a small college, with an undergraduate enrollment of around 800 students, located in Texas.
Outside of work, Lorne Cross, MD likes to maintain an active and healthy lifestyle. He is an avid cyclist and bicycle racer, while actively pursuing many other sports. Outside of spending time exercising, he also loves to travel to new locations and spend time with his two teenage children and family.