Dr. Oz Wants to Change the Way We Talk About Addiction

By Victoria Kim 09/30/15

Dr. Oz wants to explore the current state of addiction treatment.

Dr. Oz
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The U.S. heroin epidemic was a major theme of Tuesday’s episode of The Dr. Oz Show.

Dr. Mehmet Oz met with victims of the drug war, law enforcement, activists and the drug czar, in getting to the bottom of the current state of addiction treatment in the United States.

Eva Holland, the woman who shared a photo of her late husband’s open casket, which went viral. Holland explained why she decided to post the image, in which she and her two children are posing by the open casket of Mike Holland, who died of a heroin overdose. She wanted to show the “harsh reality of addiction.”

“If you don’t get help and you don’t choose recovery every single day, that is your only way out of here,” Holland told Dr. Oz. In her Facebook post, which she read aloud on the show, she said, “Hiding the facts is only going to keep this epidemic going. The cold hard truth is that heroin kills.”

Eliminating the shame and stigma associated with addiction is essential, Michael Botticelli, the acting director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) told Dr. Oz. They are what keep people from seeking treatment, which is why language is important, he said. The national mindset must change from a “War on Drugs” to a “War for Recovery.”

It is an issue that is reaching a breaking point in the United States. The majority of people who need treatment do not receive it. Drug overdose was the leading cause of injury death in 2013, surpassing car accidents and homicide.

“We need to change the way we talk about addiction in this country,” said Dr. Oz. “This is an exploding public health crisis and people who are struggling need help and compassion, and those who have successfully reached recovery should be celebrated as examples of effective treatment. Now is the time for our country’s renaissance in how we understand, treat and describe the disease of addiction.”

Dr. Oz also explored naloxone, explaining the science behind the life-saving antidote’s ability to reverse an overdose.

Jack Cole, a former New Jersey police detective who worked undercover in narcotics for 14 years, also made an appearance on the show. Cole is a founding member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) an international coalition of police officers, judges, prosecutors, prison wardens, and others in law enforcement who believe drug prohibition is a failed policy.

Cole said U.S. drug policy, which treats addicts like criminals, is doing a lot more harm than good. “If we spend the money we’re spending on the War on Drugs to create programs that give people hope for the future, everything will change,” he told Dr. Oz.

Greg Williams, the director of The Anonymous People, a film about the 23 million people in the U.S. in long-term recovery from addiction, was also a guest. Williams appeared with Jim Hood, his fellow co-founder of Facing Addiction, an organization that serves as a voice for Americans affected by addiction.

Dr. Oz is slated to speak at their Unite to Face Addiction Rally on Sunday, Oct. 4, in Washington, D.C.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr