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Addictions Are Killing Us & Government Is Profiting From Them

Posted Jun 27 2012 1:30pm

This blogsite is all about organ donation/transplantation issues.  Substance abuse (tobacco, alcohol, drugs) kills more organs than any other cause.  That’s why we continue to bring it to your attention.  We hope you will talk about it with your elected officials. (The author, Bob Aronson, is a former smoker (1991) and a recovering alcoholic (1982).  He also received a heart transplant in August of 2007. 

I have long said that the best way to eliminate the organ shortage crisis is to reduce the demand for transplantable organs.  The only way we can do that is to live healthier lives.  But living healthier means sacrifice and for some the sacrifice is just too big, especially if you are an addict.

“Addiction Medicine: Closing the Gap Between Science and Practice.” Is a new report from The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University.  Just released it offers a harsh look devastating national problem. http://tinyurl.com/7o67a26   The largest preventable public health problem in the United States is substance abuse and addiction.  They are the leading causes of preventable death and the numbers prove it.

In 2009 about 2,5 million Americans died —  nearly 600,000 of them were attributable to alcohol, tobacco or other drugs.  600.000 of them.  Let me put that into perspective.  When the Luxury liner Titanic sank in 1912 1500 people died.  It would take 400 Titanic sinkings every year to total the 600,000 killed by alcohol, tobacco and drugs.  That is one more than Titanic sinking every day of the year.  Can you imagine the outrage if ships were headed to Davey Jones Locker that frequently.  But there is no outrage over the numbers killed by drugs, none.  Politicians don’t even talk about it, the issue is not one that comes up in political campaigns and is certainly never a topic of political debate.

As taxpayers we are concerned about how our money is spent and you will often see politicians make a huge issue out of a million dollar cost overrun but can you name one that has made an issue of the $468 billion dollar yearly cost of addiction and substance abuse?

Worse yet, the recent report from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA Columbia) indicates that  only one in 10 people with addiction to alcohol and/or drugs report receiving any treatment of any kind, ever.  None, zippo, nada, niente, nothing. . Can you imagine the outrage if the neglect included  heart or lung disease, cancer(s), asthma, diabetes, tuberculosis, or stroke and other diseases of the brain?

The Columbia University report is one of the most comprehensive ever and it clearly indicates that Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death and disability in this country…number one.  Ahh…but wait there’s more.

  • 40 % of traffic fatalities involved someone under the influence
  • Prescription drug overdose deaths are up 500 percent since 1990
  • Increased risk of heart and lung diseases
  • Cancer and sexually transmitted diseases are up
  • There’s more parental substance abuse which affects children performing poorly in school and developing behavioral problems.
  • There’s more domestic violence, child abuse, unplanned pregnancies and financial problems.

The Columbia report also points out that there are 80 million people in the U.S. that are 12 and older that are abusing substances but not yet addicted.  It says these people represent a huge opportunity to intervene before disaster strikes but there is no program for intervention so it is likely these people will just be added to the growing list of casualties.

Apparently one of the big reasons for the lack of action in the U.S. is that about a third of us believe that addiction is simply a lack of willpower and self-discipline and that people should be able to control their habits..  While the medical community long ago accepted addiction as a disease many in the public do not and that accounts for some of the lack of action.

Another reason for the lack of action is money.  Local, state and federal governments collect a lot of tax money from the sale of alcohol and tobacco.  In 2009 the Feds collected about $7 billion dollars in cigarette excise taxes.  Billions more are collected by local and state governments and while some of the money goes to smoking cessation programs it is nowhere near enough.

So here’s the dilemma.  If government makes a serious effort to get people to quit smoking or to get into treatment for other addictions these people will quit buying the products that generate tax revenue and that means they will have to raise taxes elsewhere or cut spending.  They are not inclined to do either.  All politicians like to talk about lower taxes but the taxes they will not reduce or eliminate are the ones they collect on products that are killing us.

We must get a handle on this problem because it will ruin us far more quickly than any other threat facing us.  This report is well worth reading and when you are done  take an additional step.  Get in touch with every politician you know and turn up the heat to do something about this national disgrace.

Bob Aronson of Bob’s Newheart is a 2007 heart transplant recipient, the founder of Facebook’s 1800 member Organ Transplant Initiative and the author of most of these donation/transplantation blogs.

You may comment in the space provided or email your thoughts to me at bob@baronson.org. And – please spread the word about the immediate need for more organ donors. There is nothing you can do that is of greater importance. If you convince one person to be an organ and tissue donor you may save or positively affect over 60 lives. Some of those lives may be people you know and love.

Please view our video “Thank You From the Bottom of my Donor’s heart” on www.organti.org This video was produced to promote organ donation so it is free and no permission is needed for its use.

If you want to spread the word personally about organ donation, we have another PowerPoint slide show for your use free and without permission. Just go to www.organti.org and click on “Life Pass It On” on the left side of the screen and then just follow the directions. This is NOT a stand-alone show, it needs a presenter but is professionally produced and factually sound. If you decide to use the show I will send you a free copy of my e-book, “How to Get a Standing “O” that will help you with presentation skills. Just write to bob@baronson.org and usually you will get a copy the same day.

Also…there is more information on this blog site about other donation/transplantation issues. Additionally we would love to have you join our Facebook group, Organ Transplant Initiative The more members we get the greater our clout with decision makers.


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