Vim & Vigor - Winter 2020 - UVA - 25

25

Doctor Q&A: An addiction
specialist weighs in on what
started the crisis and how the
U.S. is making headway
BY SHELLEY FLANNERY

The opioid crisis came to the
attention of many Americans
in the last decade, but it's a very
old problem.
"We've had trouble with opioids
as long as opioids have been around,"
says Darrin R. Mangiacarne, DO,
a board-certified addiction medicine physician and distinguished
fellow of the American Society of
Addiction Medicine. "Some of the
earliest reports of opioid issues were
after the Civil War, when many of
the soldiers became addicted to
morphine. Back then, they called it
'soldier's disease.'"
Opioids are a class of drug
derived from the opium poppy
plant. They include prescription
pain relievers such as OxyContin
and Vicodin, as well as the illegal
drug heroin. Fentanyl is a synthetic
opioid that's 50 to 100 times more
powerful than morphine, a powerful prescription opiate.
Today's opioid crisis began in the
late 1990s, and the problem escalated quickly and tragically. Deaths
from opioid overdose increased
almost six times between 1999
and 2018 and helped fuel a rare
decrease in Americans' life expectancy, according to the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention.
Mangiacarne explains how
it all started and what must be
done next.

How did the opioid
crisis start?

PHOTO CREDIT

PHOTO BY
CREDIT
STOCKSY

Mangiacarne: Believe it or not, the

current situation developed out of
good intentions. Doctors were trying to improve pain and suffering in
their patients. There was misleading
information from the pharmaceutical industry that told doctors that
using opioids was safe and effective.
In 1980, there was a letter published
VIM & VIGOR WINTER 2020

V2_VVWI2000_24-27_QA_Opioids.indd 25

10/26/20 11:42 AM



Vim & Vigor - Winter 2020 - UVA

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Contents
Vim & Vigor - Winter 2020 - UVA - Cover1
Vim & Vigor - Winter 2020 - UVA - Cover2
Vim & Vigor - Winter 2020 - UVA - Contents
Vim & Vigor - Winter 2020 - UVA - 2
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Vim & Vigor - Winter 2020 - UVA - Cover3
Vim & Vigor - Winter 2020 - UVA - Cover4
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