Tim Ryan Talks Opiate Pandemic on “The Doctors” TV Show

Grab your remotes and hop onto the couch, Thursday, Dec. 7,  Tim Ryan will appear on popular TV show, “The Doctors” to discuss America’s opiate epidemic.


Ryan has been traveling across the United States speaking to individuals about the deadly realities of the opiate epidemic and how we, as a national community, can combat it’s effects.

Tune in on Thursday to hear Tim tell his story, and learn how to arm yourself for the fight against addiction.






Buprenorphine, the new neuroleptic

In May of this year, the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of Buprenorphine (Suboxone) implants for the maintenance treatment of opiate addicts, and I’m terrified.

The implant is supposed to eliminate the potential for losing, forgetting or having the pill stolen, according to a press release by the FDA. I also believe that these implants will hopefully deter recipients from re-selling their Suboxone.

However, an implant will not prevent certain patients from using other substances on top of the Suboxone and this is where we are seeing problems. According to drugs.com, when using Suboxone with medications that suppress the nervous system, side effects can include respiratory distress, coma, or even death.

According to the FDA press release, the implants will consist of four, one-inch long rods that are implanted under the skin on the inside of a patient’s upper arm. These implants would provide Suboxone treatment for six months.

Although I can appreciate the benefits of taking away the hassle of daily pill-taking, implanting Suboxone into a patient is not fixing the Suboxone problem.

According to an article in Addiction Professional by Steven R. Scanlan MD, using Suboxone for longer than 20-25 days can initiate a strong dependence on the medication. Which could be problematic with the medication estimated to be 25-40 times more potent than morphine.  The article also stated that although Suboxone may help make the physical symptoms of addiction manageable, it actually does not address the emotional and spiritual aspects of the disease.

“Suboxone is a powerful opiate-an anesthetic to emotional pain. It immediately alleviates anxiety and depression, and makes a person feel more emotionally stable. A lesser dose of Suboxone (2 mg a day) will block an estimated 80 percent of a person’s feelings, while higher doses can make a patient practically numb,” Scanlan said in this article.

So my question is, how do we expect to treat patients suffering from addiction, when our patient is not able to access their emotions?

In my opinion, this practice is eerily similar to the use of neuroleptic-induced frontal lobotomies to control difficult patients in the early days of mental health treatment.

Implanting a six-month dose of Suboxone into patients to continually keep them numb is horrifying to me. Prescribing an addict this “mind-numbing” medication is essentially telling them their emotions are too much or too painful. These emotions may be a lot to handle and potentially painful, but that is why we have therapists and counselors working with addicts to process these emotions.

So what is more important treatment providers? Processing and working through an addicts painful emotions? Or blocking them completely?

We hug here: My first night at an opiate support group.

Carleigh Turner

Sitting in my car before walking into my first opiate support group meeting, I was shaking like a leaf.

I thought everyone in the room would feel that I did not deserve to be sitting next to them. That I had not lived my life hard enough.

I walked towards the church and was immediately introduced to “The Narcan Mom” who provides Narcan training to loved ones and addicts for free. She told me that her son had died from a heroin overdose.

“Oh my god I’m so sorry.”

Crawled up my throat, but I knew it was not enough. My apologies would not take away the grief and pain this woman has experienced.

Her warmth and welcoming nature made me feel ready to walk inside. So together, with her crate of Narcan supplies, we walked into the meeting.

People trickled into the room after finishing their cigarettes and as the meeting began, so did the body count.

Tim Ryan, founder and executive director of A Man in Recovery Foundation, from which this support group was started, is a symbol of hope to many of these individuals.

He shared with the group the names of those who had passed away and reminded everyone that the disease of addiction, is not something to mess around with.

I began to think about when someone I knew died from an overdose. I remembered walking into the funeral home with my teammates. We waited in that dreaded line so we could hug the individual’s parents and see her one last time. As I stood over my old teammate, I was filled with pure anger. She was a senior in high school, a beautiful soul, and it ended like this?

When I came home, I threw her card on the ground, and ran into my room.

I usually think people in caskets look peaceful. But, I  just could not shake the image of her swollen, lifeless face. I did not think she looked peaceful, I thought she looked horrible.

I used to feel that I was alone in this anger. But, after going to this meeting, I knew I was not the only one geared up for the war against heroin.

After introductions and a rundown of how the meeting would work, the loved ones and addicts split into separate groups. I chose to sit with the addicts because I desperately wanted to learn what they were dealing with.

There were individuals on suboxone and off suboxone. There were individuals with nine years of sobriety and some with seven days. The diversity and love in that room was palpable and Tim’s direct, no bullshit, approach was a welcomed wake up call for some individuals.

There were stories that broke my heart and stories that filled it with hope.

“We hug here.”

Was a popular phrase that night and made me feel even more at home.

I walked out of that meeting with a fervor I had not felt before. It was inspiring and humbling to watch these individuals walk through the hell that is addiction and rising above to the promise of recovery.

I cannot wait till next Thursday where I get to learn even more, and continue to join the fight against this deadly disease.