Author Archives: skassels


So here we are on the cusp of choosing another POTUS and what a relief it will be to finally have this election season behind us.  My only hope is that after whoever wins (and yes, I have my fingers crossed and crossed tightly for one candidate!) that we can finally get down to the issues that really matter. I would like to challenge the next POTUS to do what has been dreadfully lacking during the campaign season - to focus on the issues that directly affect the electorate's lives, that affect our communities, that are robbing our kids of their future, that is tearing apart families...need I go on!!! It is time to deal with the scourge that is taking so many lives.  It is time to further advance the War On Addiction.  This is not a War On Drugs.  Please POTUS, tell us more how you plan to destigmatize the disease of addiction, to decrease demand and your strategies to further build upon the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act .

Take a look at the links and excerpts below, which only serve to reinforce the lost opportunity by both candidates to fully address the heroin/opioid epidemic with passion, commitment and a plan that it deserves.

PBS-Frontline - February 2016:  How Would the Candidates Fix the Heroin Epidemic?

"In 2014 alone, more Americans died of a drug overdose than in any other year on record. Nearly half of those deaths – around 29,000 – involved some type of opioid — like heroin. The candidates all agree on the severity of the epidemic, but their proposals vary widely. Some say the answer is more of a focus on treatment, rather than incarceration. Others say the solution is to build a wall with Mexico."

Hilary Clinton:  “We should be saying enough is enough. It’s time we recognize as a nation that for too long, we have had a quiet epidemic on our hands. Plain and simple, drug and alcohol addiction is a disease, not a moral failing — and we must treat it as such.”

Donald Trump: “We are gonna try and help the young people and the old people and the middle-aged people and everybody that got addicted.”

The Week - September 2016:  America is Suffering from a Heroin Epidemic. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton Don't Seem to Care.

"In May, police in Springfield, Massachusetts, seized 193 bags of heroin from two middle-aged dealers. The amount of heroin itself was a remarkable testament to how much heroin is flowing through the interior cities of New England. But there was something else remarkable about this heroin. It was branded with the face of Donald Trump."

"Our political class is largely ignoring what amounts to a nationwide drug epidemic every bit as serious as the 1980s crack epidemic."

"The CDC estimates that over half a million Americans have an opioid abuse problem involving heroin."

We must all encourage our politicians to make this non-partisan issue a priority. We must all write to the next POTUS and tell her/him how we really feel!!!


Author : skassels
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For the first time in U.S. history, the Surgeon General has sent letters to each and every physician warning them about the Opioid Epidemic.

Dr. Vivek Murthy is not only asking for changes in prescription practices, but also "asking clinicians to help us change how our country thinks about addiction."

For a more in-depth analysis of the role physicians play in this health crisis, please read my blog post, "Heroin Epidemic Reason #1: Blame the Doctors".

As evidenced by the Surgeon General's warning, we must all take steps to change how the country thinks about the disease of addiction.

To that end, I am donating all my author proceeds from my novel, Addiction on Trial, to addiction treatment centers, homeless shelters and academic endeavors that support the destigmatizing of addiction.

I hope you will consider buying a copy for yourself or to give it as a gift to anyone interested in changing hearts and minds about the disease of addiction.

Please also visit my Facebook page or Twitter account to learn which organizations have been identified as the beneficiaries of this ongoing fundraising campaign.

If you would like to recommend any additional organizations that would benefit from an author-proceeds fundraising campaign, or awareness-building social media posts, please send information to me through my Contact Page.

Below, please read about how Dr. Vivek has taken unprecedented steps by sending an official Surgeon General's warning to all doctors about opioids, which he calls 'the health crisis of our generation'.

Photo Surg GenI have included below a copy of the personal letter I received. I look forward to assisting the Surgeon General in his mission to destigmatize the disease of addiction!  Remember - "It Takes a Village" and "A Thousand Points of Light".

Surgeon General's Warning

I welcome your comments, questions and insights by either clicking "Leave a Reply" below, or by answering any of my Polls about the Heroin Epidemic!

Author : skassels
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I commend Martha Bebinger and NPR for bringing forward the latest information re: implantable buprenorphine to treat patients who are opioid dependent/addicted.  The implant system has four controlled release buprenorphine rods that are placed under the skin and the effect can last up to six months. The FDA is expected to make a decision about this treatment approach within a few days.


However, just as there is no one antibiotic to treat all bacterial pneumonias, or one way to treat every person who has diabetes or depression, there also needs to be multiple approaches to treat addictive illnesses.  What commonly gets overlooked is the underlying hallmark triad of addiction with its biological, psychological and sociological components.  Medication may be an essential aspect of treatment for some, but addressing the behavioral/psycho-social aspects through counseling cannot be ignored or minimized. In fact, it is through the behavioral treatment approach that patients better understand the nature of the issues and cues that contribute to drug seeking patterns.

When treating a patient with oral buprenorphine (Suboxone), the patient receives a maximum of a thirty day prescription. In between the monthly medical visits and sometimes concurrently with the doctor visits, the patient may engage in group and/or individual counseling sessions.  So just as we as a society want quick fixes for many things, we need also to be careful how we look at new treatments.  The issue of wanting our pain totally relieved has contributed to the over prescribing of pain medication.  Immediate gratification is always enticing, but not necessarily the best approach.  Surely, implantable buprenorphine has great promise, especially if it is reasonably priced.  While some patients may need the daily structure provided at a methadone treatment center or be better served by methadone if their tolerance is exceptionally high; other patients may be better served by a prescription for oral buprenorphine and monthly or weekly medical visits; and yet others may be better served by implantable buprenorphine; but all patients will be best served by incorporating a structured behavioral component into the treatment plan.

Implantable buprenorphine is not a cure-all for opioid addiction but it will be a welcome addition for physicians to have at their disposal.

Author : skassels
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I am writing this blog to share a very exciting adventure. The University of Amsterdam has invited me to speak to the School of Communication Research.  Thank you Prof. dr. Claes de Vreese in the division of Political Communication and Journalism for the opportunity to discuss how fiction can be used as a vehicle to effect social change.




Here is the outline of my talk:

The Use of Fiction as a Vehicle to Communicate & Educate

The benefits of using  a “novel” approach to communicate and educate about multifactorial societal challenges will be discussed. The obligations of physicians and the medical community will be used to illustrate how in combination with social media, fictional works can:

  • communicate the complexity of disease states in an understandable format;
  • engage and educate a wider audience in order to effect social change;
  • destigmatize certain diseases, and specifically the disease of addiction;
  • decrease bias by connecting faces and lives to illnesses; and
  • encourage policy makers and politicians to base decisions on evidence based science and financial considerations.


Here are a few more slides I will be using during my presentation. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words; so please enjoy the following slides and please let me know if you would be interested in having me present to your group, organization or academic institution.















Author : skassels
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KasselsEggsIssuesClips from Steven Kassels on Vimeo.

I recently had the opportunity to talk at the Portland Maine Chamber of Commerce monthly meeting. I hope you will listen to my presentation, and let me know if you agree or disagree. But regardless, if we do not aggressively address this scourge to society, we will continue to spend inordinate funds on treating the consequences of addiction. As they say, "You can pay now, or you can pay more later, but you are gonna pay."

Author : skassels
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