Thursday, August 9, 2018

Is big pharma to blame for the opioid epidemic? Screening in Encinitas of "Do No Harm" investigates

The state of California, like many states, is in the throes of the opioid epidemic.  According to the California Department of Health, there were 4,600 overdose deaths in California in 2015, the highest number in the nation.  While our per capita rate is lower than some states, we have been anything but immune to this epidemic.  Law enforcement is finding increased batches of heroin laced with the prescription drug fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that the DEA reports is 30-50 times more potent than heroin and 50-100 times more potent than morphine.  We can only expect that number to increase here as it has in other states where fentanyl has been in the supply chain of heroin.

Once upon a time, even among drug users and those with severe substance use disorders, heroin was "off limits" to most.  It was a drug that was only used in the most impoverished areas of the country or by celebrities who had somehow had their souls darkened by the limelight and the creative tortures that coursed through their veins.  So how did we come to a place where the predominant group that is dying from heroin overdoses is now middle class America?  How did our star athletes and kids whom had never missed choir practice end up hooked, homeless, and entrenched in the most routinely morbid of all of the drugs that are commonly misused in the United States?

This is exactly what producer and director of "Do No Harm", Harry Wiland set out to capture in his stunning documentary on this very topic.  His film shows us several areas of the country that have been decimated by the per capita death tolls.  Places that do not fit our conception of a "drugged up America."  When did Kentucky become an epicenter for heroin related deaths?  More importantly, how could this have even happened?  Wiland explores the impact of opioid prescribing, advertising, and diversion in this film.  Yes that's correct, the greatest man-made epidemic in history, the one that killed more people last year alone than the entire Vietnam war, was scratched out in bleeding ink onto prescription pads by those who have taken a sacred oath to "Do No Harm."

To bring light and community awareness to this epidemic, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence-San Diego Chapter and True North Recovery Services, an Encinitas based program for the treatment of substance use and co-occurring disorders, are doing a special screening of the documentary "Do No Harm" followed by a panel of experts and stakeholders in the fight against this epidemic.  The film will be aired at the historic La Paloma Theater in Encinitas, CA on July 11th, 2018.  The doors will open for the event at 5:30 pm and the film will begin at 6:00 pm. Tickets are available online for $10.  Immediately following the film the panel will begin.  The speakers for the panel are listed below:

Harry Wiland, Director and Producer of "Do No Harm"

Summer Stephan, San Diego District Attorney

Roneet Lev, MD, Chief of Emergency Medicine for Scripps Mercy Hospital

Lexi K., an Advocate and Youth in Recovery from addiction

Kansas Cafferty, LMFT, Chair Elect of the National Certification Commission of Addiction Professionals at NAADAC and Executive Director at True North Recovery Services

With an ever increasing death toll, incredible legislative inertia to solve the problem, and enormous community misunderstanding, this film and this event are a call to action to members of the community to get involved on every level.  It is our hope that the great citizens of San Diego will embrace the scope of this problem through seeing this film and hearing from the wonderful speakers we have lined up for you, and will come to see that they too can get involved.  That they are not powerless, but instead are influencers, agents of change, and could be lifesavers.

"Do No Harm unflinchingly exposes the role of the pharmaceutical industry in the creation of the current opioid epidemic, while also compassionately probing the suffering of its victims...who include not only those who have died or become addicted to opioids, but their grieving parents and orphaned children left behind." Anna Lembke, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, Stanford University Medical Center

To see a trailer for the film click here.

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