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Rocker Nikki Sixx Shares His Thoughts About the Opioid Epidemic in America

Sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll used to be what Nikki Sixx was all about. The guy used to consume mass quantities of cocaine, heroin, uppers, downers, and any other kind of drug he could get his hands on. Today, he’s about recovery, sobriety, and advocacy. With 16 years clean, the Mötley Crüe bass guitarist recently wrote an article for the Los Angeles Times about the opioid crisis in America. Sixx slammed President Donald Trump for his recent decisions, actions, and inactions regarding the national treatment of opioid addiction. His opinion editorial piece (known as an “op-ed”) reached millions of people in the L.A. area and around the world. And it got people talking. Good. The more conversation we are having about the opioid epidemic in the United States the better. Maybe if we talk loud enough for long enough someone will hear us and do something about it.

Sixx Speaks the Truth About the U.S. Opioid Crisis

There is a major health crisis happening within the borders of our great nation. It’s called the opioid epidemic. People are consuming opioids by the truckload in America. We are the world’s number one consumer of opioids. Trump’s response to the epidemic is what motivated Sixx to go to the L.A. Times and make his voice heard. According to Sixx, Trump isn’t doing enough to make this problem any better. Tens of thousands of people are dying from opioids every year in the United States. Approximately 33,000 people overdosed on opioids in 2015 alone. It is projected that more than half a million people will die from an opioid-related death in the next decade. Half a million people! “The numbers are devastating,” wrote Sixx. “The government estimates that 142 people a day die of drug overdoses. ODs are killing more Americans than car crashes and gun homicides combined. Prescription opioids and heroin are the prime contributors to these statistics.”

Sixx Shares His History with Heroin Addiction and Talks Briefly About Policy

Currently, millions of Americans are struggling with an addiction to opioids. It is troubling to think that this year, an estimated two million people will take opioids for the first time. This means two million unsuspecting people have the potential to become addicted in the next 365 days. What’s worse is that the federal government treats addiction like a crime, rather than a legitimate health issue. They’re locking us up, cutting our funding, and calling us junkies (though it might be behind closed doors). No doubt – we’ve got a major problem on our hands, but the government is going in the wrong direction when it comes to fixing the problem. And Nikki Sixx is sounding off about it. “Heroin nearly killed me,” he wrote in his L.A. Times article. “As a matter of fact, it did: For two minutes in 1987 I was pronounced clinically dead from an overdose.” Sixx admits that what he has been through doesn’t make him a policy expert. “But it qualifies me to judge the way the United States is handling its latest addiction crisis: Opioid abuse isn’t just making addicts sick, it’s making America sick,” he wrote.

Sixx Shares His Thoughts About Trump’s Plan for the 2018 Medicaid Budget

According to Sixx, Trump wants to slash the 2018 Medicaid budget in ways that will directly impact those who suffer from a substance abuse problem. “He’s suggesting deep cuts in funding for treatment, prevention and addiction research. And Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions wants to fill federal prisons with drug addicts instead of getting them help,” said Sixx in his op-ed piece. Clearly, this is not how you solve the opioid crisis. “Of the 2 million Americans in treatment for opioid addiction, approximately 30 percent receive Medicaid,” Sixx commented. “We must not make it harder for the most vulnerable addicts to obtain treatment.” If Trump follows through with his plans to make it more difficult for Medicaid recipients to receive health insurance benefits that would allow them to get treatment, Sixx is right. Trump is on the wrong side of the fence when it comes to treating the problem of opioid addiction as a health problem.

Trump Formed Commission to Evaluate America’s Opioid Epidemic in March

In his article, Sixx mentioned the special commission Trump convened in March to study the opioid problem in the United States. The commission came back with its findings in August and urged the president to declare the country’s opioid epidemic a national emergency. By doing so, the federal government would be able to access additional funds to address the crisis. “He has promised to declare opioid addiction a national emergency, which would free up resources for the battle. But he has failed to file the proper paperwork,” Sixx said. Shockingly, the commission revealed that approximately 142 Americans die every day from opioid addiction. With this many people dying every day, “America is enduring a death toll equal to September 11th every three weeks,” the commission said in its report. “Your declaration would empower your cabinet to take bold steps and would force Congress to focus on funding and empowering the executive branch even further to deal with this loss of life,” the report said. “It would also awaken every American to this simple fact: If this scourge has not found you or your family yet, without bold action by everyone, it soon will.” Arizona, Florida, Maryland and Virginia already have designated opioid addiction as a public health emergency.

What Nikki Sixx Recommends to Trump as Solutions to the Opioid Epidemic

While Nikki Sixx may not be a policy expert, the guy is sharp. He knows his stuff. He has offered a number of solutions to end the opioid crisis. Here they are:

  • “Congress and the administration must approve a 2018 budget that provides sufficient funding for Medicaid.”
  • “Our representatives must guarantee that, in any healthcare reform, addiction will not be not classified as a pre-existing condition that could limit an addict’s ability to receive lifesaving care for this disease.”
  • “Drug manufacturers have to be held accountable for how they market addictive drugs. We can better restrain painkiller prescriptions. Pharmaceutical companies are greedy, and the regulations are too lax.”
  • “Naloxone, a medication that can block the effects of opioids and reverse an overdose in progress, should be widely available, yet — outrageously — a puritanical debate rages over whether access to such a safety net encourages drug use.”

Sixx says that if we fail to take these necessary actions we are saying to addicts, “You aren’t worth saving.” “I am here to tell you that all addicts are worth saving,” he wrote.

Sixx Ends His Article with Some Powerful Parting Words

“I am one of the lucky ones,” wrote Sixx. “And I know my continuing sobriety is not the result of my actions alone. I have a loving family and an extensive support network. I have AA and the guidance of my sponsors. I have good health insurance. I have the money, time and resources to help me save myself.” Sixx acknowledges that so many people don’t have access to these resources. “But they are no less deserving of help. No one is a junkie by choice. And no junkie is a lost cause,” he commented. According to Sixx, addiction cannot be solved behind closed doors. “It’s a sickness, a systemic failure and a societal problem. Individuals are responsible for their own recovery, but too often, we struggle and suffer — as we sin — in secrecy and silence. Secrecy and silence do not lead to solutions.” Sixx concluded, “So I am speaking out. And so should you. Because another 142 people are going to die today.”

What are Opioids?

In case you are unfamiliar with opioids (also called opiates), they are a classification of drug derived from the poppy plant. The poppy is cultivated in Mexico, Colombia, parts of Asia and other countries around the world. Opioids are highly addictive, dangerous substances. The illegal street drug heroin is an opioid. So are prescription medications like Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, Fentanyl, and Percocet. People have been aware of the dangers of heroin for years. But only in recent times have people started to learn that prescription opioids are just as dangerous (if not more so) than street heroin.

Do You Have an Addiction to Opioids?

If you have an addiction to opioids, you could wind up overdosed like Sixx did in 1987 – only you may not be so lucky as to survive. Keep in mind that approximately 187 people are dying every day from opioid addiction. If you have a problem with heroin or prescription opiates like Hydrocodone or Oxy, you need to get help today. If you’ve been abusing opioids, you shouldn’t try to quit using the stuff on your own. You can die from opioid withdrawal. A supervised medical detoxification is the only way to go if you want to kick your opioid habit. A supervised medical detox happens at a healthcare facility like a hospital or an inpatient opioid addiction rehab. When you detox this way, a doctor or addiction specialist will give you medications to help you safely and comfortably detox. They will also monitor and evaluate your progress to make sure you don’t have any medical problems while you withdrawal. Addiction is not a choice. It is not a matter of willpower. It is a complex brain disease that requires medical attention. If you are ready to find a new way to live, find out about your treatment options.