On the day actor Philip Seymour Hoffman died of an apparent heroin overdose, more than 100 other Americans also died as a result of drug overdose. Hoffman’s death prompted an avalanche of media interest in an issue that communities across the country are dealing with each day—the misuse of prescription drugs, how prescription drug users turn to heroin, and the opiate crisis.
Andrew Kolodny, M.D., Chief Medical Officer of Phoenix House, and Phoenix House founder Mitchell S. Rosenthal, M.D., both responded to the heightened interest in this issue. In the New York Times, Dr. Kolodny said we’re seeing a shift to heroin as pills become less accessible: “It’s not easy to get the opioid genie back into the bottle.” In areas with more access to medical care, the rates of addiction are especially high because doctors prescribe the addictive painkillers, Dr. Kolodny told NPR’s All Things Considered. He emphasized it’s important for doctors and dentists to prescribe opioids more cautiously.
Dr. Mitch Rosenthal spoke with Katie Couric about the treatment of heroin addiction and the need for long-term follow-up and a detailed recovery plan. Even people who have been in recovery for a long time can be vulnerable to relapse, he said.