IAFC 150 anniversary logo

Understanding Addiction: A Guide for First Responders

Fire chiefs, firefighters, and fire and rescue EMT first responders are, to me, the "physician extenders" of a community and exemplary communitarians providing a countless range of needed responses in diligent, dedicated, and professional service to their neighborhoods, locally and globally.   
To them, Id' like to say thank you! 

As a U.S. Naval Captain in the Medical Corps and career trauma/spine surgeon in private practice, I have treated my share of horribly painful injuries and often prescribed opioids for pain control. I understand their mechanisms of action and the continuum of pain control, toleration, dependency, and finally addiction.   

I lived through several cycles of inadequate patient pain control, excessive pain medication prescribing, and the wildly swinging pendulum in the first ten years of this century toward massive overproduction, over-prescribing, drug diversion, and their aftermath and sequelae.  However, there is good news—since 2011, this trajectory is being corrected at the prescription pad level in amount, dose, and refill frequency.  With programs like "Change the Script" in Connecticut, the prescription opioid crisis is stabilizing. 

Sadly, overdose and death rates continue to climb, and mathematical models suggest they will continue to do so for at least another six years, perhaps longer.  Why?  Primarily because the basement synthetic chemists and kitchen mixologists are winning with stronger offerings like fentanyl and carfentanil with robust Internet supply chains and distribution mechanisms, escaping detection using standard interdiction methodologies.    

After 2.5 years of studying from the best and brightest thinkers/researchers on topics of addiction, I have integrated all this science and psychology into a model which I presented at a TED talk in December 2018. This model will be presented at the 2019 Fire-Rescue International (FRI) in Atlanta. It will help you to better understand:  

  •  Safe handling for self and patient, Narcan's role in the armamentarium, and hints for directed navigation for addicted patients through the healthcare resources, your more significant role as extenders, and potential political/societal paradigm changing futures.  
  • The preconditions and pathology of addiction. 
  • The scope and scale of the 'opioid crisis'; geopolitics to chemical / behavioral brain pathways will become clear. 
  • The current concepts in the neurobiology of addiction to help you become conversant with neuroplasticity and the long-term outcomes now available for rehabilitation. 

It is my purpose to update all who labor ceaselessly in the "addiction field."  Please note, this model is hopeful, positive, and will reflect breakthroughs on which those hopes are solidly grounded.  In the hour given, we will co-design, and co-create a new movement, minds and mindsets, and end stigma starting with the FRI attendees in Atlanta.   

This lecture will take place Wednesday, August 7 from 4–5 PM in the Georgia World Congress Center, Room B404. 

Bring OPEN minds.  

Bring questions and experiences.  

Get ready to launch. 

Frank Maletz, MD is Founder and President of the HEALTHspital Foundation


Related News
You are not logged in.