Many people have heard about opioid dependency growing over the last 10 years. The statistics of addiction, accidental overdose, and excessive prescriptions are alarming. A recent story that was published by Bloomberg (1) revealed a shocking trend of how the opioid addiction crisis has been fueled.
Uncovering a Plot That Fueled Addiction
According to the report, a software company called Practice Fusion was receiving money in a secret deal from an unnamed drug manufacturer to design a treatment planning program for physicians to use. Although deaths from opioid overdoses had nearly tripled during the 15 years leading up to the design of the program, the software was created anyway and was used to encourage physicians to prescribe opioids to many groups of people. The program also included longer durations for prescriptions. Based on detected criteria in a patient record, an alert for a pain management plan would go off. According to court records, the alert went off an astounding 230 million times between 2016 and 2019. The existence of the program was discovered because of a government investigation.
The Subtle Tactic Undiscovered
One of the most important points to realize about this story is that while people and advocacy groups were laying blame with all drug manufacturers, a more subtle tactic was being used by a manufacturer with the help of a software company. These entities designed a feature to push opioid sales for more prescriptions and longer durations. In turn, they have caused thousands of individuals to struggle with addiction. These people could have benefitted from other treatment options instead. A Harvard professor who serves on the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis said that the drug manufacturing industry was egregious in its actions to worsen the opioid crisis, and she called this particular case subtle and nefarious.
While the offending company remains unnamed, industry authorities believe that it is Purdue Pharma. This is because the documentation for a partnership between Purdue Pharma and Practice Fusion matches the details of the case. However, the investigation is still being conducted, and the name of the company will likely be released soon. For now, Practice Fusion has agreed to pay $145 million for damages in criminal and civil cases that relate to its program. Additionally, physicians who used the program were upset to learn that they were being manipulated by a software program that should have been designed to help patients instead of pharmaceutical company profits.
The Effects of the Opioid Crisis in Orange County
In 2017, almost 55% of hospitalizations (2) in the area were due to opioids and other prescription medications. About 80% of the deaths from drug overdoses were unintentional, and nearly one-half of those were tied to opioids. Nearly 50% of recent opioid-related deaths (3) in the area were among people between the ages of 45 and 64. Last year, there were at least 1.5 million opioid prescriptions written in Orange County. (4)
Why Opioid Addiction Treatment Is Important
Addiction is a chronic disease that must be treated beyond detoxification. Ocean Hills Recovery provides people with the right strategies and tools to overcome their addiction permanently. In addition to detox, these are some of the treatment methods that we use:
- Collaborative therapy
- Twelve-step programs
The treatment plans at Ocean Hills Recovery address each person’s unique needs. If you or someone you know is struggling with opioids, please contact us to learn how we can help break the dangerous cycle of this addiction.
About the author:
Nicole earned her doctoral degree in Psychology with an emphasis on marriage and family therapy at California School of Professional Psychology. Her doctoral thesis was a grounded theory study exploring the role of alienation and connectedness in the life course of addiction. She specializes in treating addiction and trauma. She is certified in DBT and EMDR, two of the most highly regarded evidence-based methods in psychotherapy. Dr. Doss is a strong LGBT advocate and provides open and affirming support to her LGBT clients.
Dr. Doss’s earlier education included graduating cum laude from the University of California, Irvine in June of 2007 with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. While there, she received honors recognition by Psi Chi and Golden Key honor societies.
Nicole has been working with alcoholics and addicts in our California drug and alcohol rehab center as an advisor and counselor for many years. She is passionate about providing quality counseling and care to her clients. Her main focus is on integrating the 12 Step and disease models of addiction with experiential therapeutic theory. She is married to Greg; they have two adorable sons together and an energetic yellow Labrador Retriever.