John Oliver, Fentanyl, Harm Reduction

If you have HBO, I highly recommend watching the latest episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (Season 9, Episode 5). It may be available on other platforms.

In this episode, Oliver takes on the misguided drug war approaches that have led to the massive number of overdoses due to fentanyl and advocates some serious harm reduction approaches.

Update: here is it on Youtube:

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8 Responses to John Oliver, Fentanyl, Harm Reduction

  1. Kevin R. says:

    I have another idea. As a 20 year chronic pain patient who needs opiate medications just to function and have any kind of life outside of bed, my medical treatment for the last 5 years has been dictated by federal law enforcement. Due to the poorly written 2016 CDC Opioid prescribing guidelines, I am being punished for the actions of those who misuse and abuse opioids. The DEA decides what amount of prescription opiates my pain management doctor can prescribe. If they decide that a doctor is prescribing too much, he/she can be prosecuted and sent to prison. This certainly makes it easy for the DEA to look like it’s actually doing something, as all they have to do is search through state PDMP’s until they find a doc who THEY think is writing too many scrips. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel! I mean doctors only go through years of training in order to learn how to properly diagnose and treat medical conditions! So, of course, they dare not tempt the DEA to go after them, as they can lose their livelihood. But the REAL problem, as we all know, is the explosion of illicit fentanyl on the streets. It is not, nor has it EVER been, prescription opioids causing the exponential increase in overdose deaths in this country. (Read the reporting of Josh Bloom for the truth of what’s happening.) Since everyone knows that the WAR ON DRUGS has been a complete and utter failure since day one, why wouldn’t the DEA want to take the path of least resistance and continue to sit on its’ ass, looking to bust doctors who are only trying to help relieve the needless suffering of those in pain? Because it’s easier to do that than to go after street drug dealers, who are responsible for the breathtaking rise in OD’s due to the prevalence of illicit (NOT prescription) fentanyl in almost every kind of street drug.

  2. Servetus says:

    Humans have a natural proclivity for drug use, and Congress should note the fact and go with the flow. For example, a new study supports the drunken monkey hypothesis, “that our attraction to booze arose millions of years ago, when our ape and monkey ancestors discovered that the scent of alcohol led them to ripe, fermenting and nutritious fruit.”

    1-APR-2022…The study was led by primatologist Christina Campbell of California State University, Northridge (CSUN), and her graduate student Victoria Weaver, who collected fruit eaten and discarded by black-handed spider monkeys (Ateles geoffroyi) in Panama. They found that the alcohol concentration in the fruit was typically between 1% and 2% by volume, a by-product of natural fermentation by yeasts that eat sugar in ripening fruit.

    Moreover, the researchers collected urine from these free-ranging monkeys and found that the urine contained secondary metabolites of alcohol. This result shows that the animals were actually utilizing the alcohol for energy — it wasn’t just passing through their bodies.

    “For the first time, we have been able to show, without a shadow of a doubt, that wild primates, with no human interference, consume fruit-containing ethanol,” said Campbell, a CUSN professor of anthropology who obtained her Ph.D. in anthropology from Berkeley in 2000. “This is just one study, and more need to be done, but it looks like there may be some truth to that ‘drunken monkey’ hypothesis — that the proclivity of humans to consume alcohol stems from a deep-rooted affinity of frugivorous (fruit-eating) primates for naturally-occurring ethanol within ripe fruit.” […]

    …(the study) is a direct test of the drunken monkey hypothesis… Part one, there is ethanol in the food they’re eating, and they’re eating a lot of fruit. Then, part two, they’re actually metabolizing alcohol — secondary metabolites, ethyl glucuronide and ethyl sulfate are coming out in the urine. What we don’t know is how much of it they’re eating and what the effects are behaviorally and physiologically. But it’s confirmatory.” […]

    AAAS Public Science News Release: Monkeys routinely consume fruit containing alcohol, shedding light on our own taste for booze–Study supports ‘drunken monkey’ hypothesis: humans inherited love of alcohol from primate ancestors

  3. Servetus says:

    Pain relief from cannabinoids is safe in conjunction with opioids. Anyone familiar with combining both, as I once did recovering from a broken clavicle, can confirm the research findings. Cannabinoids win again:

    Philadelphia (April 4, 2022) – Findings from a new animal study suggest that cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) might be safe for use with opioid pain relievers…a low-risk way to reduce the dose of opioids needed to relieve pain.

    “There is intense interest in using medical marijuana in patients with chronic pain because compounds in marijuana like CBD and THC may produce pain relief themselves or enhance the pain-relieving effects of opioids,” said Lawrence Carey, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio. “This means people could potentially use lower doses of opioids and still get relief from pain. Taking less pain medication could also lead to a lowered risk of addiction or physical dependence to opioids.”

    The researchers found that CBD and THC do not enhance the rewarding effects of opioids. This means that these compounds may not increase the risk for addiction when used in conjunction with opioids. […]

    AAAS Public Science News Release: Animal study shows safety of using CBD and THC with opioids–Combining marijuana compounds with opioids doesn’t increase risk for addiction

  4. Servetus says:

    Improvements in brain connectivity found in psilocybin therapy helps in treating depression, and may provide a therapy for anorexia and addiction:

    11-APR-2022…with psilocybin therapy, as measured by improved participant scores on clinical questionnaires…[a]nalysis of the brain scans revealed altered communication or connectivity between brain regions.

    More specifically, they found an increase in communication between those brain regions that are more segregated in depressed patients. They found a correlation between this effect and symptom improvement in both trials – while the strength and duration of effect varied between participants, it was strongest in those who reported an improvement in symptoms. The researchers added that while follow-up data is still being analysed for participants, initial changes in brain activity one day following treatment were a good predictor of whether a person would still show improvement at six months.

    Professor Carhart-Harris added: “We don’t yet know how long the changes in brain activity seen with psilocybin therapy last and we need to do more research to understand this. We do know that some people relapse, and it may be that after a while their brains revert to the rigid patterns of activity we see in depression.” […]

    Professor David Nutt, Head of the Imperial Centre for Psychedelic Research, said: “These findings are important because for the first time we find that psilocybin works differently from conventional antidepressants – making the brain more flexible and fluid, and less entrenched in the negative thinking patterns associated with depression. This supports our initial predictions and confirms psilocybin could be a real alternative approach to depression treatments.”

    Professor Carhart-Harris said: “One exciting implication of our findings is that we have discovered a fundamental mechanism via which psychedelic therapy works not just for depression – but other mental illnesses, such as anorexia or addiction. We now need to test if this is the case, and if it is, then we have found something important.” […]

    AAAS Public Science News Resease: Magic mushroom compound increases brain connectivity in people with depression after use

    Nature Medicine Publication: Increased global integration in the brain after psilocybin therapy for depression: Richard E. Daws, Christopher Timmermann, Bruna Giribaldi, James D. Sexton, Matthew B. Wall, David Erritzoe, Leor Roseman, David Nutt & Robin Carhart-Harris.

  5. Servetus says:

    John W. Whitehead, a constitutional law attorney, calls out no-knock warrants:

    …There was a time in America when a person’s home was a sanctuary, safe and secure from the threat of invasion by government agents, who were held at bay by the dictates of the Fourth Amendment, which protects American citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures.

    The Fourth Amendment, in turn, was added to the U.S. Constitution by colonists still smarting from the abuses they had been forced to endure while under British rule, among these home invasions by the military under the guise of “writs of assistance.” These writs gave British soldiers blanket authority to raid homes, damage property and wreak havoc for any reason whatsoever, without any expectation of probable cause.

    To our detriment, we have come full circle to a time before the American Revolution when government agents—with the blessing of the courts—could force their way into a citizen’s home, with seemingly little concern for lives lost and property damaged in the process.

    Rubber-stamped, court-issued warrants for no-knock SWAT team raids have become the modern-day equivalent of colonial-era writs of assistance. […]

  6. Servetus says:

    Hysterical police officers are in critical need of more medical science education regarding Fentanyl.

    Four years ago, three police officers were dispatched to a 911 call from a hotel in Fredericksburg, Virginia for a potential overdose.

    When they arrived, they said they saw syringes, electronic scales, loose white and tan powders, and claimed they heard a person in the bathroom flushing the toilet repeatedly. There was, in fact, no overdose victim in the room, but one person showed signs of drug intoxication.

    However, after arriving, all three officers — and one more who handled materials from the scene back at headquarters — reported symptoms of drug exposure, including dizziness and difficulty breathing. Fellow officers said at least one of the officers was experiencing signs of an overdose after being in the presence of the suspected drugs, including fentanyl, according to a video of the incident on the website of CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

    The problem? Many experts say that this was likely not an overdose at all, and that symptoms weren’t due to fentanyl exposure. They also charge that it misrepresents the risk of toxic exposure from fentanyl for officers on the job.

    “No one has explained exactly what’s happened in that video, it’s all conjecture,” said Brandon del Pozo, PhD, a drug policy and public health researcher at Brown University and former police chief. “It is surprising to see something with such a basis in conjecture being presented by an agency that has a commitment to science.” […]

    Science marches on nonetheless. There’s at least one possible explanation for this type of phenomenon.

    The yin is called a placebo, in which medical research patients believe they’re under the effect of a wonderful pain relieving drug when in fact they’ve only consumed a sugar pill. It falls into the category of a hypnotic autosuggestion. The yang is called a nocebo in which the drug in question has a dark moral cloud hanging over it as well as alleged magical powers that adversely affect anyone consuming or coming anywhere near the easily available forbidden fruit. This ill effect is more a characteristic of radioactive materials than it is of weed. Fentanyl doesn’t do this, and neither does cannabis.

    There was a story years ago of German police officers walking through a marijuana garden and being overcome by the fragrance of cannabis flowers that supposedly gave them a heady high. If only it were that easy—and economical.

  7. NorCalNative says:

    I tried explaining this and the nocebo effect to a liquor store clerk. It was like talking to a wall because he had seen a video. In my neck of the woods law enforcement is bitching about open drug markets in San Francisco as the source of fentanyl in the Emerald Triangle.

    • Servetus says:

      Talking to a wall. That sounds about right. Certain segments of state public education, largely relegated to rural evangelical outposts located in more isolated parts of the U.S., have adhoc agreements with the government creating a sort of partnership in which evangelicals dumb down pupils and thereby society so that government can make people poor and thereby socially dependent, entranced or addicted to certain whacked-out evangelical support networks. Your liquor store clerk sounds like one of the isolated and disconnected victims of the battle for separation of church and state.

      The way it works in the dystopian public school systems located in cult ridden areas of America is standard. First, the best type of propaganda is information that’s withheld. Government secrets in archives all over the world are littered with embarrassments that might bring down some corrupt political sucker. Information used to be easier to contain. The Internet changed all that. Pre internet schools in some areas of the rural hinterland were known to withhold science education from students in the K to 7 category, while making science studies optional to pursue thereafter. Some may still do it by trickier means. Traditionally, we’re talking about not allowing books about dinosaurs on primary school book shelves, because the 1926 Scopes Trial….

      Another trick of the trade for dominionist evangelicals who’ve occupied public school positions as teachers and administrators is to make any subject, oftentimes history, so boring that few are willing to pick up a better written book on historically bizarre topics that turn out to be very entertaining. Students are thus expected to be discouraged from reading troubling and divisive topics like inquisition history, books that might contain really interesting and useful points needed for survival when one finds oneself pitted against modern day inquisitions.

      Attacks upon or the abuse of intellectually promising students are common in schools riddled with dogma. Smart and imaginative kids are viewed like The Bad Seed from a tweaked out 1956 movie. Some children just seemed naturally possessed by demons (facts). Bright and inquisitive students in particular represent a potential threat to stupid, corrupt and evil cult status quos. Potential commies all. I’ve known many of them. One individual broke the chains of his community’s religious dogma by obtaining a medical degree and then fleeing the U.S. to live and work in Belgium. Before emigrating, he sublimated his frustrating experiences with cults and his cult hobbled teachers by developing a politically incorrect computer game he dubbed Mormonoids. He was featured for it in Wired Magazine.

      I think the forced ignorance of science in public schools is America’s greatest problem at this time in its history. The very devices and methods needed for survival are being thwarted by people who don’t give a damn about their own survival or anyone else’s, and who refuse to live in the present reality because reality is too hard on their little brains.

      Much of this topic has been covered before, in works like those of Richard Hofstader’s Pulitzer Prize winning book Anti-intellectualism in American Life, c. 1963, in which Hofstader illustrates not only anti-intellectualism but the persecution and belittlement of teachers whose duty it is to inform and educate in a way that can give their students an edge in the truly crazy world they’re about to encounter. The most recent episode of Bill Maher has a YouTube segment on the topic of deliberately bad public education. The video’s comments tell the same story.

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