Local author responds to opiate crisis
HOWARD — Author Clyde Mighells, of Howard, has released a new book called Curbing the Opiate Crisis; A Call to Action, a rallying cry against the systems he says have allowed the crisis to breed, killing almost half a million people in the last decade and destroying families and communities across the country.
“Patients, the consumers of healthcare, are dropping dead by the tens of thousands. Never before have we witnessed such an egregious act toward those who sought professional help for personal needs only to end up suffering from addiction and possibly even dead. As a nation, we need to say, “Enough!“” wrote Mighells.
In 2016, 60,000 people died of overdoses. 52,000 of those overdoses were caused by opiates. The Center for Disease Control estimates 91 people die from an opioid overdose in the United States every day.
Mighells, who works part-time as a pastor at the Lighthouse Reformed Church in Howard, has worked with addicts and others affected by drug abuse for 30 years. Currently, he and his wife Beverly travel the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania providing Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs training to addiction professionals through Preferred Systems, Inc. of Erie.
“I think I have good exposure to what’s going on,” he said.
He explained that Curbing the Opiate Crisis helps readers follow the money, showing how the profitable opiate industry creates and reinforces a legal environment that allows the opiate crisis to continue.
“The book tries to look at (the crisis) from all angles,” he said.
Politicians, medical professionals, the pharmaceutical industry and social organizations have all profited from the crisis, he said, while citizens suffer.
Mighells asserts that those responsible for the crisis are not being held accountable for the damages they have caused to individuals, families, communities, the states and our country.
“Big pharma is making literally hundreds of millions of dollars” off selling opiates and their antidotes, like Narcan or naloxone, he said.
The price of naloxone has risen 520 percent over the last three years. Buying just two syringes of the brand Evzio can cost the average person $4,500. Narcan nasal spray can cost up to $130 to $140 for two.
Many politicians, Mighells said, are in the pockets of the pharmaceutical industry and would not risk losing donations to support legislation curbing opiate production and circulation. Doctors, too, are complicit when they overprescribe opioids for pain management instead of non-addictive pain relievers like Tylenol and Ibuprofen.
He referenced a CDC study, which found that people given a 10-day supply of opioids had a one in five chance of becoming long-term users. Of those given a month-long opioid prescription, one in three were still using them a year later.
Mighell also criticized what he calls our “pain-free society,” in which people demand immediate relief for short-term or chronic pain.
“The fact is: life isn’t pain free,” he said.
His book breaks down the ways our society can teach suffering people to cope with their pain, using a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy, mindful meditation and non-addictive painkillers.
“We really don’t have opportunities to teach our children to deal with pain,” he said.
But the inaction that has followed the rising death toll from the crisis really cements Mighells’ argument.
“What else in the world would we tolerate killing half a million people…and not do anything to stop it?” he said.
Everyone in society is involved in this crisis, he said; therefore, everyone can play a role in stopping it. People of faith can lead prayer groups, teachers can teach about the dangers of abuse and propose alternatives, doctors can quit prescribing addictive pain medication and regular citizens can urge their leaders to take action against the crisis.
For Mighells, “It may take a village to raise a child but it is going to take a country to curb the opiate crisis.”
The author currently holds a Bachelor of Science, a Master of Theology and a Ph.D. in human behavior. In 1990, he was seated as a scholar at the Columbia Seminary in Atlanta.
Mighells recently released another book called Fueling Your Recovery; Harnessing Spirituality.
Curbing the Opiate Crisis; A Call to Action can be purchased on Amazon and will be available in brick-and-mortar bookstores in six to eight weeks.