The current opioid epidemic is believed to have started in 1991. During this time, officials began to notice a drastic increase in the number of prescriptions written for the use of opioids as painkillers. Doctors were falsely informed that the risk of addiction to these drugs was low. Their trust in a product they knew little caused significant harm to patients. People became addicted rather quickly and developed drug-seeking behaviors.
The doctors were prescribing these medications regularly, and pharmaceutical companies were also promoting their use. Previously, these drugs were reserved for patients with cancer. By 1999, most of the people using these prescription medications were non-cancer patients. It’s believed that 86 percent were suffering from chronic pain conditions. Areas where these drugs were accessible became the first regions to suffer from opiate abuse. Users were from all age brackets and socioeconomic groups.
In 2010, there was an increase in deaths from abusing heroin. Awareness of opiates dependency caused a decreased in prescriptions. When opiates became harder to obtain, people turned to heroin to find that familiar high. Shockingly enough, a study showed that more than heroin users started with prescription opiate addiction.
Due to the increased costs and difficulty in obtaining opiates and heroin, a synthetic drug was released to the market in 2013. Fentanyl and other related drugs are blamed for over 20,000 deaths, and it’s linked to contaminate drug abuse. Keep in mind that there is a difference between medical and manufactured fentanyl.
The problem is so out of control that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention felt it necessary to step in and put stringent monitoring practices in place. Opiates should be reserved for cancer patients, those who need chronic pain treatments, and end-of-life care only. Before prescribing these medications, an assessment should be conducted, and regular ongoing evaluations are essential.
The CDC believes that both pharmaceutical companies and those prescribing these medications must be held accountable. A US Senate Committee also got involved and found that there are many financial ties between the manufacturers of these drugs and the medical community as well as many professional cultures.
With tighter guidelines in place, those suffering from painful conditions will continue to seek relief, even if it’s on the streets. The epidemic continues to grow, and it’s destroying cities across America. Drug addiction is no respecter of persons; it affects both young and old, and rich and poor.
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.